By H. Scott Jolley
The craggy mountains of the Wasatch Range surrounding Salt Lake City hold resorts that cater to every breed of adventurer. Want undisturbed powder?The aptly named Powder Mountain (801/745-3772; www.powdermountain.com) has almost 5,500 acres of the fluffy stuff. Downhill purists can head to the 2,940-foot vertical drop at Snowbasin (888/437-5488; www.snowbasin.com). For a classic skiing experience, Alta (888/782-9258; www.alta.com) provides beautifully groomed trails with nary a brash snowboarder in sight. Daredevils will thrill to night skiing—more than 200 acres of lighted terrain—at Brighton (800/873-5512; www.brightonresort.com). With all these choices, there's plenty of room, even at the eleventh hour (just try landing a place in Aspen for a last-minute weekend). The best part of a Salt Lake sojourn, however, may be the indulgent après-ski. Forgo hot cocoa, chunky cable-knit sweaters, and a roaring fireplace for reiki rubdowns and volcanic-ash baths. The intimate year-old spa in the Grand America Hotel has shiatsu therapists and a sea-foam cocoon treatment for tight muscles. The Cliff Spa at Snowbird (800/232-9542; www.snowbird.com) has massage rooms with views of the slopes, so you can watch gliding skiers during your aromatic-oil "high-altitude" rubdown. Afterwards, pad out to the open-air heated pool, where you can soak in a bubbling tub as the snow drifts down. On second thought, bring on the cocoa.
Tavernacle (201 E. 300 South; 801/519-8900), an SLC piano bar where everybody knows your name—and the words to every song ever written.
Culture: Freeze Frame
The Sundance Film Festival (January 16-26; www.sundance.org), which started 19 years ago as a small celebration of independent movies, has morphed, Hollywood-style, into a massive 11-day orgy of films and stars (not that there's anything wrong with that). Park City, 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake, surrenders to the Tinseltown excess every January while somehow managing to stay true to its indie frontier roots. This year's festival will find upwards of 20,000 directors, actors, producers, critics, and fans trudging through the snow to see more than 120 films. Seats are always hard to come by, but the box office opens for single-ticket sales on January 7 and a few advance packages may still be available on-line.
Salt Lake City is well served by Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue.
WHERE TO STAY
Grand America Hotel The 775-room Grand America overflows with extravagant touches, such as handloomed English carpets and Murano glass chandeliers. Doubles from $225; 555 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 800/621-4505; www.grandamerica.com
Peery Hotel Dream of the Old West in the canopy beds at this landmark 1910 Prairie-style building with 73 rooms. Doubles from $129; 110 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City; 800/331-0073; www.peeryhotel.com
Armstrong Mansion A B&B in an 1893 Victorian manse. Book the sprawling top-floor room ("February Interlude"), which has a Jacuzzi in the turret. Doubles from $99; 667 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City; 800/708-1333; www.armstrongmansion.com
WHERE TO EAT
L'Avenue Bistro Located in the upscale Sugarhouse district, L'Avenue has French imports like steak frites, moules marinière, and a hammered-zinc bar from a Paris bistro. Dinner for two $50; 1355 E. 2100 South, Salt Lake City; 801/485-4494
Third & Main Seasonal American cuisine—try the bison osso buco or the pumpkin gnocchi with brown butter and sage—on a busy downtown corner. Dinner for two $50; 280 S. Main St., Salt Lake City; 801/364-4600
Wahso Sichuan honey-lacquered salmon, Thai tom kha gai, and other Pan-Asian dishes in an antiques-filled room that harks back to 1930's Shanghai. Dinner for two $90; 577 Main St., Park City; 435/615-0300