Why Vail Resorts' Park City is loved by A-list skiers such as Will Smith and Justin Bieber

Elliot Wagland
Pinecone Ridge: PCMR 2015/ANDREW BRADEN

I hadn’t actually put on a pair of skis for more than 10 years, but my friends assured me “it’s just like riding a bike…” But as I careered — slightly jetlagged — down the snow-covered slopes of Utah’s Jupiter Peak, another phrase quickly sprang to mind: “how do I brake?”.

The piste is part of Vail Resorts’ world-class ski destination of Park City, where the likes of Will Smith, Justin Bieber and Michael Jordan all have homes.

When I arrived after a 12-hour flight from Heathrow to Salt Lake City, it didn’t take me long to see why it’s such a favourite with the A-list.

Park City — a 45-minute drive away from Salt Lake City — is the largest linked ski area in the United States. Made up of 7,300 acres of incredible compact snow, it has a multitude of lifts, chairs and ski paths to access the slopes.

The area hosted some of the events during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and offers top-ranked ski and snowboard facilities (I barely managed to scratch the surface in the few days I was there).

Park City ski resort is broken up into three areas: Park City Town, Park City Base and Canyons village, all linked by the new eight-passenger Quicksilver Gondola connection.

The combined mountain range can be explored by purchasing Vail’s Epic Pass that allows visitors to ski all over the valleys, including the black runs for those more experienced (and a little braver) than myself.

Park City Waldorf Astoria (www.waldorfastoriaparkcity.com)

I was staying at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria in Park City Canyons. Guests are greeted by two outdoor roaring fires and a heated outdoor swimming pool: both welcome additions, considering the sub-zero temperatures. The hotel has its own ski lift linking Park City Canyons to the base of the mountain, my time was spent exploring as many acres as I could physically cover during daylight hours.

My group was chaperoned by our two private ski instructors: Ron, a Park City local who regaled us with tales of trips to London during the summer months, and Alex, a British instructor who knew the Vail Resort like the back of his hand — or should that be ski glove. They showed us the hidden gems of the slopes.

To get the most out of a trip it’s worth spending an extra few dollars for an insider’s guide, which can be booked at the same time as you buy an Epic Pass.

At the end of a hard day on the snow, traversing across tree-lined slopes and dodging the odd deer, I was delighted to discover that we were virtually on the doorstep of Main Street.

With its twinkling lights, this is famed for the Sundance Film Festival. And if you look closely enough you may just spot a piece of street art from Banksy.

The resort even puts on a free bus service that runs through Park City, stopping at the base of the mountain, and it’s the perfect way to explore this beautiful and quaint suburb.

If you have the time, Park City even offers Yoga Adventures where you can flex your hamstrings, assume the downward-facing dog position and unwind… perfect for those feeling the strain after a day of thigh-burning activities on the slopes.

After five days of exploring this incredible part of the world, it won’t be another 10 years before I hit the slopes again. And this time I’ll know about braking.

Staying there

Ski Independence has seven nights at the Waldorf Astoria Park City from £2,290pp, based on two sharing a King Junior Suite. Price includes United flights from London Heathrow to San Francisco, then on to Salt Lake City, plus private transfers to the resort, returning from Salt Lake City to Newark, then back to Heathrow. See ski-i.com.

Skiing there

An Epic Pass offers unlimited, unrestricted skiing or riding to 15 ski resorts in the US and Canada, including Whistler Blackcomb, Park City, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek and is available to purchase for $899 (£684) until 19 November. Also includes access to 30 European resorts across Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland.

Ski lessons

Book online to guarantee the lowest price at parkcitymountain.com/Plan-Your-Trip/ski-and-ride-lessons.

Park City Yoga Adventures

Discover more about yoga and other activities available at the resort at parkcityyogaadventures.com.

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