Experience Salt Lake City the Houstonian Way

Two luxurious hotels, one Park City destination, eight nonstop flights from Houston

By Jayme Lamm July 19, 2022

The summertime excursions this lodge in Salt Lake City is most known for are its Equine Experiences.

With summer in full swing, Houstonians are looking for escapes, ideally something quick and easy, with the ability to enjoy the outdoors. For your next adventure, skip the usual summertime beach destinations and jump on one of eight daily direct flights from Houston to Salt Lake City (SLC) to experience an outdoor delight.

Less than an hour from the airport and a world away in the mountains awaits a destination voted the No. 1 ski resort in the U.S. by Conde Nast Traveler. But Deer Valley and the surrounding Park City area, sometimes referred to as the Wasatch Back, aren’t just for winter: they’re a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts in every season, and summers are a wonderful time to visit.

A coveted retreat for jet-setters

Located 18 miles from Park City, The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection boasts 3,500 acres of private terrain with summertime temperatures averaging in the high 70s. This modern luxury resort offers the appeal of celebrating the outdoors with wild abandon during the day and noshing on locally sourced mountain cuisine and delicately crafted cocktails at night. Or switch up the order, It’s up to you.

Built in 2019, the cliffside wellness sanctuary has drawn such A-list celebrities as Alexander Ludwig, who eloped with Lauren Dear and spent Christmas at the resort; Dwyane Wade and Gabriel Union, Adam Demos and Russ Vitale, all of whom have all shared their experiences on Instagram.

Talk about a remote getaway. With its location set miles back into the mountains, ordering a ride share isn’t an option here. Luckily, hotel guests can select a complimentary Mercedes test vehicle from the lodge’s fleet to get into town. Not that one needs to leave the intimate 46-room property, which is perfectly surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, high alpine fields, an extensive hiking trail system and a spring-fed creek.

Quintessential Utah adventures

Wake up from your Sky, Earth or Creek room at the Lodge at Blue Sky, and adrenaline awaits just outside your door. 

Sure, hiking is fun, but at the Lodge at Blue Sky, everything is an elevated experience. For a unique pick-me-up, try heli-hiking: at a cost of $6,000 (for four guests). You can take a private helicopter ride to a remote lake or high mountain vista to explore the exquisite terrain.

Rather stay grounded? Go on a guided mountain biking excursion to explore Park City’s 450 miles of gold-rated trails. The rides are customizable based on guests’ riding styles and abilities, or guests can opt for the Park City History and Art E-Bike Tour. All biking adventures start at $250/guest for a half day.

Choose from more than 11 unique equine rides like the Cowboy Way. 

The summertime excursions the lodge is most known for are its Equine Experiences. Choose from more than 11 unique equine rides like the Cowboy Way ($750), for experienced riders only, offered June through September. The adventure teaches the “basics of natural horsemanship and cattle moving in the tradition of Ray Hunt and Buck Brannaman. Spend time helping wranglers ride out and do the real work of the ranch, checking fences, moving cows, and enjoying the scenic trails of Blue Sky.”

Horses hold a special place with the resort’s owners. In fact, the luxury at the Lodge at Blue Sky isn’t reserved only for hotel guests. The horses get to partake in the over-the-top pampering, with Mondays off dedicated to massage therapy and acupuncture.

On other days, in addition to the Cowboy Way, equestrian guests can opt for mountainside or meadow rides, private riding experiences at the on-site arena, or a one-hour breathwork session where you’ll connect your breath to the breath of the horse, helping achieve a deep level of meditation, relaxation, and connection ($275).

Other great experiences

The Sporting Clay Simulated Driven Experience ($450/guest for 2 hours) is where you can let your true Texas spirit shine at an on-site 18-stand sporting clay course. At the shooting pavilion, you’ll truly understand where the lodge gets its name, as you’ll be surrounded by nothing but blue skies. The sporting club is so popular that it offers a limited number of memberships, a handful of them held by Houstonians as a reprieve from three-digit summer temperatures back home. 

Let your true Texas spirit shine at the sporting clay course. 

 Other summertime activities include fly-fishing, outdoor yoga and meditation (of course, Heli Fly Fishing and Heli Yoga are options, too), ax throwing, archery, flower bouquet making, art classes, kids camp, spa days and more

After all of the activities, food is a must, which is another area in which the Lodge at Blue Sky exceeds expectations. The on-site restaurant Yuta, helmed by James Beard Foundation award-winning executive chef Galen Zamarra, offers impressive farm-to-table cuisine. It’s about as locally driven as one could hope, with many ingredients coming from the lodge’s on-site 1.5-acre organic farm, Gracie’s Farm.

Signature culinary offerings are matched by the resort’s outstanding wine selection, which doesn’t come cheap (the most affordable glass of wine starts at $25). Save room for carrot cake featuring locally grown heirloom carrots. It’s not big enough to share, so order accordingly.

While all of the in-room amenities are luxurious and carefully curated, it’s the private outdoor spaces, framed by stone walls made perfect for private sky-gazing, that sets the Lodge at Blue Sky apart from any other resort.

An award-winning hotel with a prime location

If you prefer to be in the heart of the action, the Goldener Hirsch, Auberge Resorts Collection is an iconic hotel nestled in the heart of Deer Valley, steps from the famed resort’s ski lifts. The Goldener Hirsch offers European tradition with a modern luxurious flair, all without being too gimmicky. One side comprises the sleek, modern residences selling for upward of $5 million, while the other side exudes the spirit of a charming Austrian ski chalet.

The inn’s 18 newly redesigned rooms and suites feature wood-burning fireplaces, vaulted ceilings and arched doorways. They range in size from 420 square feet to 1,530 square feet, including a two-bedroom signature suite that occupies the entire fourth floor. 

The Goldener Hirsch’s awards extend beyond the hotel rooms to the restaurant and après lounges, which feature menus skillfully marrying Bavarian specialties with farm-fresh fare sourced from local Park City pastures. Popular dishes include Bavarian pretzel knots and four-cheese fondue with toasted baguettes and, for dessert, you can’t go wrong by double-dipping with more fondue. It may be a bit pricey, but there’s nothing quite like dipping homemade marshmallows into a vat of chocolate fondue before indulging in a nightcap and turning in for the night.

The resort’s ideal midmountain location offers guests direct access to a whole host of summer hiking adventures, mountain biking and horseback riding. Summer adventures include a Full Moon Night Ride, in which guests explore the trails via mountain bike at night, stopping halfway to take in the full moon atop the mountain and riding back using the moon’s light as guidance. If you’d rather sip your adventures, try the Bavarian Beer Tasting or the one-of-a-kind Open Fire Culinary Experience, an immersive and interactive experience allowing diners to cultivate connections to their food, the chef and the community. 

In June, Chef Nicolas Lebas introduced the first Goldener Summer Market, inspired by the French Guinguette. The market launched in tandem with the summer mountain chairlifts every Saturday from June 18 through Sept. 3. The open-air market offers light bites by Lebas and guest chefs, as well as a unique menu of spirits, games and live music.

There’s never been a better time to explore Park City from Houston. Which adventure are you taking?


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