Story and Photos by Laurette Veres
Locals keep this area secret. I’ve been traveling, skiing and staying in the finest accommodations around the Salt Lake City area for over 25 years. Yet, I’ve only recently heard of Alta. The best-kept secret of Utah skiing is the talk of the town since the 50 million dollar renovation of Snowpine Lodge, an original lodge built right in the mountain.
Only 25 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport, you can literally be skiing 70 minutes after landing. It’s an easy drive; shuttles are plentiful and reliable. The new Snowpine is a quaint mountain lodge with a whole new look. Grays and browns accent western artwork throughout the resort. The small, inviting lobby has a pleasant fireplace open on two sides, heating two cozy seating areas. A large inviting patio provides additional seating when the weather permits, perfect for sipping hot cocoa, cocktails or coffee as skiers zip by. Similar lobbies are found on most floors.
The lodge is family owned and built for families. Board games litter the lobby and a kid’s zone is set up on level C with video and table games, plus toys for every age. There is even a bunny slope with its own chair lift so kids can ski without leaving the hotel property.
Snowpine is located on the mountain so guests enjoy skiin-ski-out convenience. It’s a two-minute ski to the Albion basin, home to ski school, daycare, dining and two lifts. Despite our crowded Saturday in February, the kids signed up for ski school in no time! Alf Engen Ski School is first come first serve (no reservations), so plan accordingly on big snow days. This school has been called the best in Utah and year after year skiers return to their favorite coaches, who seem to stay forever. Skiing skills are enhanced with lessons on local environment, terrains and ecology. The Ski Adventure Center operates near the lifts, so it’s easy to take a peak and check on your mini-skier’s progress. As students progress it’s also super convenient to hop a lift and take skiing to the next level.
Alta has always been known as “a skiers mountain” and to this day snowboarders aren’t allowed. Ski purists love this.
When the lifts at Alta close, guests at Snowpine keep skiing off Snowpine’s new private lift. Three or four bunny slope runs are great for family skiing and extra practice for ski students. When they are finally ready to turn in, storing gear is easy with storage lockers, complete with boot and mitten warmers, await just inside the door. This amenity is included with each Floor-to-ceiling windows look over Cottonwood Canyon. Menu standouts are Short Rib Pot Pie, Scallops and Pork Schnitzel, a nod to the Austrian Alps. The Brussels Sprout Caesar salad was so good it had guests talking about it later at the bar; only the burger received more accolades. This is room. Be sure to partake in the chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal cookies, served with hot chocolate.
Swen’s is Snowpine’s eatery. The dining room is stunning and the communal dining table has views of the open kitchen as well as the mountains. Floor-to-ceiling windows look over Cottonwood Canyon. Menu standouts are Short Rib Pot Pie, Scallops and Pork Schnitzel, a nod to the Austrian Alps. The Brussels Sprout Caesar salad was so good it had guests talking about it later at the bar; only the burger received more accolades. This is a new restaurant and will soon be winning awards. Breakfast is conveniently served buffet style so you can head directly to the slopes: eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, granola and bagels are available daily. Dine a la carte or purchase a meal plan.
Accommodations are available at several price points. Our five-person family opted for a Snowpine Suite- a spacious master bed and bath, kitchenette and seating area where the couch contains a pullout bed and additional bath. See www.snowpine.com for other options and pricing.
It’s acceptable to walk around in your robe; and you should! After a long day on the slopes, Jacuzzis and massages reinvigorate tired bodies. The spa here is perfect. Very little of the original lodge is visible, until you enter the Stillwell Spa. The original bricks from the Jacuzzi/grotto have been preserved. The grotto is a constant 104 degrees and has room for 10; spa treatments start and end here. A minute in this historic grotto and you’re transported to the Austrian Alps. Every conceivable amenity is available. The provided robe is actually nicer than the one you arrived in. Steam and sauna are both available in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, so bathing suits are optional. The waiting area serves yogurt covered pretzels, salted almonds, herbal tea and water.
Brides and bridal parties are treated special at Snowpine. Gather bridesmaids for a 70-minute bridal party sip and soak or choose other treatments from their full spa menu. Speaking of weddings, the ballroom view is of the spectacular mountainside. The lawn is the perfect outdoor wedding space offering breathtaking mountain views. Alta is no longer a secret! Enjoy the luxurious, year round accommodations at Snowpine Lodge.