PARK CITY, Utah (TheStreet) -- Founded by Alan Fuerstman in 2002, Montage Hotel & Resorts has managed to create a formidable luxury brand within a relatively short time by specializing in a comfortable luxury aesthetic. What started as just a singular Craftsman-style beach resort in Laguna Beach -- albeit a very large and impressive one -- Montage now with three locations in the Western United States and has come to dominate a strip of California coast that already had no shortage of luxury brands, including St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and the newer Pelican Hill.
Montage Beverly Hills opened last year, complete with a rooftop pool and collection of pricey private residences, on a pricey strip of downtown Beverly Hills real estate. The brand didn't flinch despite the competition -- not one, but two Four Seasons-managed properties, the Peninsula and Beverly Hills Hotel -- and when its eatery, Parq, failed to become a local hotspot, it was replaced with the more stylish outpost of New York Italian eatery Scarpetta by Scott Conant.
Montage Deer Valley combines the worlds of ski and Sundance: It's only 10 minutes outside Utah's Park City, but with a ski lift literally at the back door.
Now, almost two years later, comes Montage Deer Valley, an impressive destination ski resort on the mountainside next to Empire Canyon Lodge, 10 minutes outside Utah's Park City. It is, perhaps, the most ambitious U.S. ski resort to open in a decade. At an ideal remove from much of the action of Park City, Montage Deer Valley joins no less than three other luxury brands that have debuted in the region since the 2002 Winter Olympics, including
Guests are welcomed in the heated cobblestone motor court by a dapper, mostly local staff in woolen coats and pinstripe-detailed uniforms and Montage's resident canine ambassador, Monty, a 6-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog still in full puppy mode despite his impressive size.
Heavy doors open to a baronial entry hall laid in natural stone flooring with throw rugs. There are communal seating areas under a 30-light chandelier, and a distinguished Herb Mignery bronze sculpture of a Wasatch skier by a double staircase better for Uggs than chunky ski boots.
Similar to such grand hotel palaces as the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 19th and 20th century, Montage is a destination resort defined by grand hallways and voluminous architecture. It seems solid, built to for last centuries, including the lobby lounge's vaulted ceiling with exposed beams and a roaring, cast-stone fireplace. The lobby's chocolate leather sofas with nailhead details are home to afternoon tea and evening cocktail service with trays of complimentary nibbles.
Two eateries define the culinary landscape of Montage Deer Valley. Its destination eatery, Apex, deconstructs a formal dining experience into an all-day affair, including a lounge and terrace that does a costume change between the morning buffet and dinnertime. Daly's Pub & Rec gastropub, specializing in brick-oven fare, is even more casual. It has a playful setting of billiard tables, dartboards, vintage arcade games and even a four-lane bowling alley -- the first of its kind in any American hotel.
With a ski lift literally at the back door, post-slope rejuvenation isn't far away in the Montage. There's a branded spa sprawling over 35,000 square feet -- the largest in the Park City region -- and an indoor lap pool (in addition to the outdoor resort pool) offering direct access to separate men's and women's steam rooms, sauna and whirlpools, as well as a fitness center with group fitness classes that include mountain boot camp and yoga. Ideal for last-minute bookings, the 29 treatment rooms include an upgraded couple's room with copper baths and private outdoor balcony.
A recent press review likened room decor to Pottery Barn and Ethan Allen, not really a compliment when considering that the $795-and-up per-night price tag could buy you a couch at either. The hotel's 154 guest rooms and more than 66 suites and residences are far more impressive than their retail comparisons, but do take a conservative version of luxury not dissimilar to the rooms in Laguna Beach and Beverly Hills. The more rustic Colorado mountain design inspires mountain themed-oil paintings and Audubon prints on walls, dark palettes for wooden four-poster bed, muted patterns on cushy upholstered furnishings and subtle floral print curtains. Bathrooms have endless marble details with branded toiletries, double sinks with built-in vanities and soaking tubs with complimentary candles and bathtub tray of salts and scrub brush.
With the Christmas and New Year holidays and Sundance week sold out, guest rooms can still be found midweek and on select weekends through the winter ski season for upward of $795 per night. Those preferring warmer winter locations should not fret; Montage Los Cabos in Mexico's Cabo San Lucas is already in the works.
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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.