Deer Valley: Where to Stay: Luxury: Montage Deer Valley
Montage Deer Valley
Montage is relatively young luxury hotel company—its first property opened in Laguna Beach in 2003—but one with a major reputation for lavishing attention on very spoiled hotel guests in Southern California. (The second property opened in Beverly Hills in 2008). So the owners of Montage Deer Valley don’t just aim to be the best ski property in the West—they need to live up to their brand’s own standards.
In Montage’s case, how you arrive at the hotel distinctly affects your impression. As a hotel guest, you drive high up the mountain to Empire Pass and pull up under a massive porte cochère with stone columns, soaring wood beams and flickering flame heaters. Valets usher you into the lobby, a Craftsmen show-stopper with walnut floors (check) and a bronze statue of a skier to remind you why you came. Just inside the door, there’s a sled of stuffed animals so children can choose a cuddly companion. The hotel mascot a Bernese Mountain puppy named Monty may also be present. Check-in is done in advance so you are whisked right up to your room, which has a residential mountain décor and fireplaces in every bedroom. The effect: a warm welcome. If you arrive from the slopes, however, what you notice is how massive the building is. The main building is six-stories, which is surmounted by another six-story tower housing the residential units. A ski valet will help you with your skis but you must climb steps in your ski boots to reach one of the restaurants or the lobby, which is why some locals complain that the hotel is not welcoming.
After a recent stay, I can understand both perspectives and imagine that with time the welcome will improve for everyone. Among the draws for families are a pub with bowling alleys, dart boards, pool tables and video games, a kids’ club, indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a sledding run, a 35,0000 square-foot spa and an outdoor skating rink (slated for 2012). In the summers, activities include hiking, biking and fly-fishing. Want to rent skis, book an instructor or buy gear? You can ride the elevator from your room to the ski shop, which provides lockers for all ski gear, warms boots overnight and will have your skis waiting out front for you.
The staff is still learning how to manage at peak times (to snag a table at Daly’s pub, you better arrive before noon), but they are friendly and plentiful. Touches like the superb hot chocolate served in the cafe (the secret recipe of the chef’s mother) that comes piled with mini marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate shavings soften the frustration of the kinks. Well-selected coffee-table books and oil paintings of Western landscapes adorn the public spaces as well as the 154 bedrooms and 66 suites and residences that range from one to four bedrooms. The Western rustic décor continues in the guestrooms, all of which have patios or balconies and mountain views, but feature signature Montage comforts like large stone bathrooms with heated floor tiles and Italian soaps, great linens and LCD TVs.
Overall, the Montage’s scale is imposing and unless it’s full of bustle, it can feel like you are alone rattling around in a cavernous space. However, once the property shakes off its newness and develops a lived-in warmth and becomes a gathering place for the community, it has the promise of becoming a great Western lodge, much in the vein of grand old family resorts, like the Greenbrier at its peak or the Breakers. Don’t miss the excellent, on-site restaurants, including Apex, Daly’s Pub & Rec and Vista Lounge.— Melissa Biggs Bradley 01/31/2011