Snowmaking update from Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, 2018

I frequently have clients tell me they want to schedule their trip only when the snow is “good.” Well, first, unless you’re skiing 70 days a year, literally anything we have here in the great Rocky Mountain West is going to be ‘good.’ Second, even if we aren’t blessed by epic storm after storm, you’re going to have a great time because baby? We MAKE snow.


Snowmaking is a reasonably simple theory, a fine mist of water sprayed across a fan = snow. But the devil is in the details; the temperature needs to be below freezing (27* is premium), generally somebody has to physically walk from hydrant to hydrant to turn the water on, it could easily take an hour to begin snowmaking on say the Payday run. Since sometimes the snowmaking window is only an hour long, frequently it doesn’t make sense to start the process.

At the luncheon with Deer Valley president Todd Shallan, former president and current Alterra advisor, Bob Wheaton, and head of Vail’s Park City Resort, Bill Rock, explained some advancements that their resorts are investing in. Bill explained that investing in automation has all but solved the issue of setup time for snowmaking; rather than walking from hydrant to hydrant, they are able to simply program their snowmaking so it takes advantage of those small windows of cold temperature. Bob, with Alterra, pointed out that snowmaking technology has advanced rapidly in the last five years. It is possible, he says, to make snow when the temperature is above freezing. They use frozen microbes (USDA approved), which lowers the freezing temperature of water. They also blow a larger particle out of the snowgun, so the snow that they’re making has a lower water content and more cubic feet of snow per gallon of water. This is mind-blowing, and I can’t wait to hear more about it.

Incidentally, did you know that for the low low price of only $699 you too can have your own snowmaking machine? I’m actually pretty excited to start seeing this topic appear in HOA meeting minutes.

Ski Resort Update, 2018: Pt II, Park City Resort

At the ski resort update luncheon, and as part 2 of this series, Bill Rock, head of Vail’s Park City Mountain, explained that they have invested a tremendous amount of money into snowmaking infrastructure, including automating the process so they can take advantage of those windows of cold temperature. Keystone and Breckenridge had opened for their season the day before (!). One thing Vail really wanted to invest in was reworking the beginner area, with the goal of offering the finest teaching terrain in the country, added new adventure trails, new grading and more high-tech snowmaking. Last year they had to hand-shovel snow to keep one trail open, so this year? It’s got brand-new snowmaking. One big goal they achieved over the summer was to remodel Cloud 9, as there was always limited seating. So, they added 200 seats and huge glass walls to take advantage of the views. At the Midmountain Lodge, they repainted the building to better match the original color of the historic structure (you know this wins points with me). And, they added an official bar, so now you can get a glass of wine on mountain. They also have been reworking the built-ins and firepits to model the decks after European resorts.

Developing the parking lots is a topic of much speculation at both resorts. Bill explained that Vail tries to find partners who are in the real estate development business and then work with them to develop their real estate to enhance the skier experience. They’ve been working on a plan for the base parking area for many years but haven’t fleshed out a plan or chosen a development partner yet. But, one complaint they always receive is with the entire parking experience. So they’ve implemented a few changes that are making a difference, including making sure the people parking there are there to ski (offering remote parking locations for employees, for instance). They’ve also outsourced the day to day management to event parking professionals that handle big sporting events in Salt Lake City. Their review score went up last year over the year prior by 2 points on a 10 pt scale.

He was also proud to discuss the resort’s environmental responsibility. Taking over from Powder Corp’s initiatives, they announced last year Project Zero, whereby they aim to reduce both their carbon footprint and waste to 0. They had a huge energy audit, and have completed a full conversion to LED lightbulbs, and have dropped one-time use plastics on mountain. On the zero waste front, Salt Lake City is building a “digester” that eats up compostable trash and converts it into energy.

Ski Resort Update, 2018: Pt I, Deer Valley

Every winter, the Park City Board of Realtors wrangles up the heads of the local ski resorts for a discussion on what is up and coming at their particular resorts. It’s one of the most well-attended luncheons, and for good reason.

Bob Wheaton, the former President and COO of Deer Valley Resort, shared his time with the new President, Todd Shallan. Bob has been with Deer Valley Resort for over 40 years, working his way up through the organization. He is now moving into an advisory role to DV’s parent corporation, Alterra Mountain Company. He was proud to announce that Alterra’s philosophy lines up with DV’s in terms of service, community involvement, and skier experience, and noted that they look to the individual resort presidents for guidance, which is a sharp contrast to many corporations. He has long joked that three things can never change at DV: ski-only, the skier cap (limiting the number of tickets that can be sold per day), and the turkey chili. When asked if there were plans to allow boarding at Deer Valley (there are equally plausible rumors on both sides of the question), he announced that if Bill Rock of Vail didn’t do such a good job with Park City Resort, which does allow boarding, then there would be much increased pressure to allow boarding. As it stands though, there is enough quality at both resorts to give guests great options.

He was less clear on whether Alterra plans to connect Deer Valley and Solitude. Deer Valley acquired Solitude 4 years ago but when Alterra acquired Deer Valley (over the total solar eclipse, fill in your own punchline), they did not acquire Solitude. By some technical do-si-do-ing, Alterra acquired Solitude 2 months ago. My *speculation* is that Deer Valley will at some point take over winter maintenance of the state road Guardsman Pass between Empire Pass and Solitude and Brighton. The state closes this road in the winter, which means Park City area skiers that wish to ski the Big Cottonwood Canyon resorts drive to Salt Lake City, and then come back up to Solitude/Brighton (or up Little Cottonwood Canyon for Alta and Snowbird). Bob did mention that Alterra is looking to improve the experience at Solitude including lodge and dining, but he didn’t have more details.

Todd Shallan introduced himself and explained that though he had 30 years of hospitality experience, he had no ski resort experience. I see this as notable information, and I imagine that decision was made in keeping with the more diverse winter vacation needs; people don’t just take ski vacations to ski (or board). They want to have an experience, they want to live the life for a little while, they want to ski and ride the horse-drawn sleighs and go fly fishing in a frosty river and enjoy a world-class meal in a remodeled miner cabin on Main Street. I get it. And with experience managing the Hotel Del Coronado and Beach Village and the Arizona Biltmore and Spa, Todd certainly seems to have the ability to maximize that sentiment. He explained that Deer Valley has invested between $6-7M this summer, including replacing Homestake chairlift with a high speed quad, investing in snowmaking and equipment, and has his eyes set on the lodges (Snow Park, Silver Lake, and Empire Pass) and Food & Beverage, and refreshing staff training for the level of service they’re trying to achieve. One topic on everyone’s minds is the Mayflower project; interestingly, Todd volleyed the update request back to Extell, the developer who has most recently obtained master plan approval. He said they are in discussions of how that partnership will work but there’s no real timeframe as far as Deer Valley is concerned.

He also mentioned that he doesn’t see changing the skier cap as that really changes the whole equation at Deer Valley. One other question we always ask is when will the Snow Park parking lots be developed. I am expecting retail, dining and shopping on the ground floor, condos above, and underground parking (same as we’re expecting with Park City Resort). Todd reported that this development would happen with Intrawest who does a lot of development and the timing of that project is tied to Mayflower, so until there’s a master plan which will take a few years, there’s nothing really to report. He did mention that since they’re going to keep using the lots as lots for the time being, they do plan to make them more attractive.

No word on the turkey chili recipe.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II, Bill Rock of Vail Resorts

The Old Dutch Store in Sugarhouse

Sometimes it takes driving past a store a hundred times to wonder what they do in there. Sometimes it takes a sign saying “fresh stroopwafels.” And sometimes it takes a big-ass windmill on the roof.


This little gem is on Highland Drive and just north of 27th S (that’s 2700 S, come at me anti-grid bros). And on Wednesdays, they make fresh stroopwafels, which are two thin waffle-pressed cookies held together with a smear of caramel.

Yesterday, they made them into hearts for Valentine’s Day. Of course I told them to keep mine as circles because let’s not be wasteful.


As a reasonably (I thought) seasoned Norwegian, I thought I could roll in here and appropriate that joint up. NOPE. If I could identify 8% of what that store sells I’d be impressed with myself. At the back of the store is a deli case with all the northern European cheeses and meat products you could hope for.


Deli sandwiches, named “The Bavarian,” The Copenhagen,” and “The Transylvania.” Or make your own, with meats as pedestrian as Turkey and as wild as Cervelaat (no clue). Cheese? Gouda to Butter Kase (again, no idea but I like the sound of it).


Of course I spent $10 on a jar of pickles. It’s like you don’t even know me.


German Pretzel Mix! German Bee Sting Cake Mix! Butter Cookies! Yes, ok this island I can figure out.


Not this one. Hello, culinary horizons, PREPARE TO BE EXPANDED.


And this! WTF is this? “Salmak powder, salty,” contains licorice root extract, sugar, ammonium chloride, rice flour and salt and ought not to be used by people with high blood pressure. I have actually eaten Lutefisk and I don’t have a clue what this is. There is so much googling in my future.


A huge chocolate selection of course, including Icelandic brands. And now I know where people are getting their decorative clogs and Oktoberfest hats from.


Verdict: Crazy place, full of nostalgic products and I’m sure impossible to find ingredients.

Was I out of my element? Yes.

Did I order $30 in stroopwafels? Yes.

Will I be going back? Yes (after I google some stuff though)

Do they sell Lutefisk? No. But they do get some requests for it around Christmas.

Experience the Unique

At Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, we represent some the most magnificent properties in the state of Utah. The lifestyle here on the Silicon Slopes is one of clean air, breathtaking landscapes, and hundreds of recreational opportunities right out our back door. Watch for this commercial which is part of our campaign that will be running all through the Deer Valley Music Festival.

And featured in this video you will find my listing at Stag Lodge, a brilliant ski-in/ski-out property right on Last Chance ski run at Deer Valley Resort. Click here for more details.

Summit Sotheby’s International Realty is proud to sponsor the 2017 Deer Valley Music Festival. Enjoy the world-class talent from our own Utah Symphony, paired with the best in classic rock, country, show tunes, pop, jazz, and of course, chamber and classical music galore. The festival includes 16 concerts over a five-week period, including 12 “main stage” concerts at Deer Valley Resort’s Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater in Park City and four chamber concerts at St. Mary’s Church in Salt Lake City. The Deer Valley Music Festival will open at the beginning of July with a patriotic concert, featuring Broadway and opera singer Lisa Vroman with the Utah Symphony Orchestra.

Other highlights scheduled to perform with the symphony throughout the summer include: Leslie Odom Jr., the Beach Boys and Ben Folds Five. “America’s band” The Beach Boys — synonymous with sun, surf and endless California sunshine – will perform their good-vibe music with the Utah Symphony on July 8th. Boasting three dozen U.S. Top 40 hits (the most by any American rock group), The Beach Boys’ chart-topping hits include “Surfin’,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” “I Get Around,” “Kokomo,” “Help Me Rhonda” and “California Girls.”

Happening upon Hidden Hollow

I got trapped in a cliche this weekend. Imagine, stumbling on a little hidden wooded oasis in the middle of a vibrant gentrified social center. Even the name is earnestly unironic: Hidden Hollow. IT’S TOTALLY HIDDEN IT’S A HIDDEN HOLLOW


HiddenHollow-5 This little slice of heaven is next to the Petco/Bed Bath and Beyond/Whole Foods complex and surrounds the river. Huge trees! Bridges! Ducks! Many woodland species and associated informative plaques. HiddenHollow-3

Look, I come to this complex weekly. At least. I drive past it daily. I had no idea this was here. I mean honestly, be less obtuse Kristina. Just because there’s the gigantic Sugarhouse Park across 13th East from this spot why wouldn’t there also be a little slice of wooded heaven right here in between all these businesses.
HiddenHollow-1 Look at this historical plaque! You know I love this stuff. Did you know “Sugar House” was known as the Furniture Capitol of the West? NEITHER DID I AND I AM BIG ON BOTH FURNITURE AND THE WEST. HiddenHollow-2

Like, there are two restaurants in this little cluster of walkable hipness OF COURSE THERE ARE. Just downstairs from fabulous new construction condos and just to the left of thriving commercial and office space. Surely there’s parking for them someplace and some sort of street frontage, there has to be. Right? That I’ve driven past twice a day and just not noticed? Right?


The moral of this story? There is literally cool stuff around every corner if you can just be bothered to slow down and look around. Also I need me some Vietnamese food.

Halloween, 2016

Every Halloween, the same.

The costumed crowd begins to form.

Pulsing, pushing, the swarm overtakes the street.


The animals, adorned and incentivized.


The humans, well-accessorized.


As dusk settles, a weariness takes hold.

Uphill they trudge with their prizes.

Towards home.

Oh, Halloween

Presuming you’re not so dim as to choose a racist costume or to go running around terrorizing people with a chainsaw (“This is Miami, he has a gun”) there is nothing not to love about Halloween. The weather is usually beautiful, the last of the leaves are about to fall, and everything is properly autumn. Soups because we’ve waited all winter. I made beef stew Saturday and pot roast yesterday and there’s not a meat in my fridge I won’t hesitate to braise because it’s finally cold overnight. We’re wearing sweaters again! Of course we have to take them off by noon but no one cares because there is a Tim Burton movie to watch when we get home.

I don’t think there’s a town in Utah that celebrates Halloween quite like Park City. Oh I know there are the pay-$20-get-lunged-at haunted houses throughout the valley, and the theme park Lagoon stays open late and has ghouls running around, and if I weren’t so old and tired I might venture over to some dance club or local theatre with my bag of toast, spray bottle, and lighter for a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show. (Just kidding, you can’t bring your own anymore. In my day you brought your own toast.)

Here in Park City, Main Street shuts down for the afternoon so that entire costumed families can show off their holiday spirit. We call it “Howl-o-ween” because there is a “dog parade” but really it’s just bedlam, but just the sort of bedlam you know Park City can guarantee

Halloween in Park City 2014


Seeing more than one legit Chewbacca costume isn’t unusual. Despite prohibitive laws, there are open containers a-plenty.

Halloween in Park City 2014


All the bars and restaurants are participating in some way. Someone is usually playing spooky music and once they tried to stage a Thriller flash mob but everyone had been drinking and nobody knew the steps anyways. Typical.

It’s also the last big holiday before we get buried in snow, so many people decorate their houses for the event. Assuming we didn’t get a freak storm of course, which is always possible. My favorite street for this is Daly Ave. You’re in Old Town, so the houses are old and spooky anyways, plus they’re close together and you get a lot of bang for your walking buck. And the kids luck out as well; they can trick-or-treat on Main at all the shops plus they can trick-or-treat the houses once it gets dark.

This is the time of year when chilly stuff is fun and optional, and the only big stress is when to turn the sprinklers off for the season and if you bought enough fun-size candy to not give out. No family ordeals, no pressure for big meals or parties or events.

Just black clothes, candy, and Christopher Lee reading “The Raven”. My kind of holiday.

*Featured photo taken by our rockstar photographers at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty. Then entire tour for that year’s parade can be seen here.

Dottie’s Kolaches

I can’t remember the first time I heard about kolaches, but I do remember first making them myself maybe 5 or 6 years ago off an archived newspaper recipe. A kolache is a beautiful little baked pastry with choose-your-own filling. They’re labor-intensive and taste best hot out of the oven, which puts them in the same category as donuts and cinnamon buns: learn to make them, appreciate them, and then pay a professional baker to make them for you.


When I was first making kolaches no one in town sold them. No one. And it blew my mind; who wouldn’t want a sweet dough full of cream cheese filling? Or a savory dough stuffed with cheddar and bacon and egg?


The old-timey fillings are always the best. Cottage cheese. Poppyseed. But literally any filling is delicious and this whole concept emerged first out of necessity. If you had cherry jam in the fridge you used that. If the apricots had been plentiful then you used those.


Lemon is always a popular filling, and it didn’t matter whether you used lemon curd or lemon pudding or lemon pie filling. Just a little homemade drizzle of powdered sugar, lemon juice and water icing on top.

And I’m pleased to say, kolache joints are FINALLY starting to crop up.


No, it’s not the same as what your Czech grandmother could whip up (but let’s be honest, nothing will ever be that good again). But they are lovely and plentiful and in some cases, offer drive-through convenience. It’s been far too long since I ate at Dottie’s, but if you live anywhere near Heber you ought to drive over and take a look at what they have to offer.


Be sure and order a cream cheese kolache for me.