Shopping on Main Street since 2008! The above photo shows 2008 trip on the left and then our most recent trip in 2021.
Here’s a real quick executive summary of this post in case long form is not your thing 😊 …Inspirato likely has incredible inventory at the destinations you already love visiting with those you care most about! So keep those family traditions going strong. Inspirato’s got you! Whether it’s Vail, Deer Valley, Aspen, Los Cabos, Punta Mita, Kapalua, Florida, Tuscany, etc., chances are that Inspirato has fabulous inventory waiting for you and your family to enjoy.
Now, moving on to our latest Inspirato Pass trip…Stein Eriksen Residences, dad/daughter trip, incredible skiing at Deer Valley…this could almost be a repeat of my very first trip post with Inspirato Pass. This year’s trip was a bit different. Last year, I took my youngest daughter and another dad/daughter pairing who are dear friends of ours. That first trip with Inspirato blew all of my expectations out of the water; both the overall quality of the experience and the value that we achieved. This year, I was somehow able to sneak away to Deer Valley for a few days with both of my teenage daughters. Even with COVID-19, their schedules are crazy and it was a minor miracle that the stars aligned and the three of us could make this trip happen.
One my favorite pastimes these days is to scroll the Inspirato Pass trip list, especially when we have a reservation available. One evening while purposefully scrolling for a Deer Valley trip, a trip to Ski Haven at Stein Eriksen Residences popped up on my screen. I yelled down the hall to my girls, telling them the dates and asking if they could swing a few days in Deer Valley. My youngest yelled back, “at Stein Eriksen Residences?”, to which I replied, “yeah, same place as last year”, at which point I hear, “uh, heck yeah dad!”. As my oldest daughter didn’t make the trip last year, she didn’t entirely realize what was being offered with a trip to Stein Eriksen Residences. Nonetheless, she confirmed that she could probably make it happen. When your oldest daughter is just a handful of months away from leaving the nest and heading off to college, a trip like this is gold. And, what a treasure it was to make this trip with both of my daughters this time around. I owe a huge shoutout to my wife for encouraging us to do this trip, even though she wasn’t able to join us. Next year we’ll get the full family ski trip in!
We’ve been going to Deer Valley for years. It’s a special place for our family. Lots of nostalgia there. Shoot, I grew up going to Park City and Deer Valley with my own family for many, many years as a kid. We have family traditions at Deer Valley. My girls have beautiful memories of our times there from over many years with their Nana and Papa, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course their own parents also 😉 .
Okay, now on to some trip details and what traditions in Deer Valley look like for our family. After an easy flight from SNA to SLC, we jumped into our 4×4 Cadillac Escalade rental (Thanks to the Avis and Inspirato partnership for the upgrade!) and headed up the hill into some serious snow fall. The four-wheel drive was absolutely essential on the drive up, and actually for the duration of our trip as there was consistent snowfall during each of our days there.
Arriving in town a couple of hours before check-in time meant we’d go directly to Main Street, a quaint little street that I’ve walked up and down for over forty years now. My wife and girls love all the little cute shops. I happen to be a bit more partial to the beer and ice cream spots. I guess we all love Main Street for our own reasons. In order to take advantage of a win-win opportunity, we hit a couple little boutique stores (bought mom some gifts from the little shop she loves the most) and made the obligatory stop at Lululemon for the girls. And somehow, for the second year in a row, I managed to forget to bring ski socks on a ski trip so we went to the Sock Store on Main Street. Yep, it’s a store that only sells socks. They’ve been around a few years now so apparently I’m not the only person that continues to forget socks on ski trips. With some shopping now under our belt, it was time to hit dad’s favorite joint, Wasatch Brew Pub. As a Californian who had not been able to eat inside a restaurant in recent memory (actually it has been since our trip to Scottsdale with Inspirato in November), it was great to sit inside a warm restaurant to enjoy a meal. It was a bit different this time around with limited seating, closed off bar area, etc. But, it still felt great to be inside, especially as we watched the driving snow fall outside the window. I can’t claim that Wasatch Brew Pub has the best food ever. But, it’s…good enough. The beer, however, is excellent. I enjoyed a couple of light Hefeweizens this particular afternoon. They did the job of taking a slight edge off of a travel day, yet keeping me sharp to make the 1 mile drive from Main Street up to Deer Valley and the Stein Eriksen Residences.
Upon checking in to the Ski Haven residence, the trip was pretty much plug and play. We have our routines down. And when you ski all day, there’s neither much time nor energy remaining for other things, save for lots of eating of course.
You can read more about the details of the Stein Eriksen Residences here, but it’s extraordinary in every way. Our first evening we hit the gym and I got my treadmill miles in for the day. I had grand plans to run on the treadmill after skiing each day, but I don’t need to tell you how that ended up. Let’s just say most of my workout clothes returned home to CA just as nicely clean and folded as when they were packed. But, we skied hard each day and stayed on the slopes until closing, so my legs were toast at each day’s end.
The skiing was amazing. Deer Valley (the last ski resort that I’m aware of where snowboarding is prohibited…there must be others somewhere?) never disappoints. And one of the best things about skiing Deer Valley is hitting all of our favorite runs and chairlifts, never needing a to go through the ever so frustrating effort of unfolding and reading the mountain map with gloves on. That’s the fruit of sticking with skiing traditions. The COVID effect was felt as it related to the lodges, lunch service, etc. But, here’s the beautiful thing, when you stay at Stein Eriksen Residences, it’s incredibly easy to just ski back to your unit to grab some lunch or eat at the 7880 restaurant right on site. It made the most sense for us to avoid the lodges on this trip and Stein Eriksen Residences made that a breeze.
Skiing out of our residence in the morning, skiing in and out for lunch, and then skiing in at the end of the day created a skiing scenario that I never could have possibly imagined. I don’t know if I’m embarrassed to mention this…or somehow proud. But, here’s the deal. As we skied up to the ski-in concierge area on our last day of skiing, I kicked off my skis, picked them up and leaned them on the rack. No big deal, right? So, why is this detail interesting? Well, it was at that moment I realized that it was the first time I had actually touched my skis over our few days of skiiing! That’s right! How in the world is that even possible? I’ll be the first to say I didn’t know it was, nor would I have ever actively seeked out such an experience. It’s almost enough to make a guy feel like he may be asked to turn in his man card. But oh man, it sure made for a fantastic skiing experience. The ski rental place had our info from last year so they knew exactly what skis we needed. That meant our skis were sitting in the snow each morning ready for us to just walk into, snap into our bindings, and be on our way. Then, each time we’d come in and out, the ski concierge guys are there to grab your skis for you. You don’t even need to return them. The ski concierge takes care of all of that. You just kick out of your bindings and they do the rest. So my friends, that is how you end up skiing for three days without even touching your skis.
A quick mention of some very good times that we had during a couple of the nights we ventured out to dinner. A more recently established tradition for us is to eat dinner one of our evenings at Flanagan’s Irish Pub on Main Street. The Shepherds Pie is top notch and a pint of Harp tastes its very best after a long day on the slopes. The atmosphere is relaxed, casual, and fun. It was so much fun to eat and have some focused time just catching up on all the goings on in my daughters’ lives. I don’t know exactly why conversations tend deeper when we venture far from home and are on vacation, but it sure makes the time all the more worth it. How does one even try to attach value to rich conversations with your children? You just can’t. And Inspirato Pass, through encouraging regular vacation taking, creates so many opportunities for special family connections. It’s been so, so good for our family.
Next up…Sushi. I love it. Almost every date night out with my wife involves sushi. It’s our thing. Now, my wife wasn’t able to make this trip, but we have now successfully passed down our love for sushi to the next generation. Wanting to have some sushi and have a special last evening with my girls, we decided to try Hama Sushi at the Montage. A quick review; the sushi was as good and as fresh as you can find anywhere. The Hamachi dish was spectacular. The atmosphere left a bit to be desired as it’s sort of just a carve out from the larger lobby(ish) lounge bar area, rather than it’s own uniquely designed restaurant. That being said, we had a table right next to the window and enjoyed watching what seemed to be almost a foot of snow fall during our dinner time.
Our favorite part about our evening at the Montage was completely unplanned and a most pleasant surprise. It was snowing so hard in Park City and Deer Valley that they had closed a bunch of the roads. Shuttles were stuck all over town so we ended up waiting about an hour for ours to arrive. Thankfully, I knew I had no business trying to drive us in our rental car that evening in what I think can fairly be referred to as blizzard conditions. Once we knew we had a bit of a wait, we settled into some oversized lounge furniture next to where a woman was performing live music on the piano in the huge lobby bar area of the Montage. Things got somewhat surreal. Here we are in the mountain paradise, a blizzard outside, and sitting and listening to the voice of an angel. This young woman was off the charts talented! We felt like we had snuck into some private VIP concert. She was that good. Granted, we’d been in lockdown for a year, so our ears were a bit hungrier than usual for live music. But nevertheless, this woman was a real treat to get to listen to. My girls requested a couple of Kacey Musgraves songs, and she killed it. After close to an hour of listening pleasure, our ride arrived. The Head of Security of all Stein Eriksen properties showed up to get us home safely. Shuttles were stranded everywhere, but they made sure to get their guests back home safely. Apparently, all hands were on deck. Safely back at our residence, we reflected on our magical evening and then let the sadness settle in, knowing that we had to pack our bags and head home in the morning.
As we left the Montage, my girls and I chewed a bit on the lyrics of “Happy and Sad” by Kacey Musgraves, a song that we had just listened to just a few minutes prior…
“Is there a word for the way that I’m feeling tonight? Happy and sad at the same time, you got me smiling with tears in my eyes…and they say everything that goes up, must come down, but I don’t wanna come down.” There you have it, how I know we all so often feel on the last day of wonderful vacation times with families. “Everything that goes up, must come down, and I don’t wanna come down”…
But, as is always the case, come down is exactly what we did that next morning, both literally and metaphorically. We enjoyed one last delicious (and always complementary) breakfast at 7880 and then jumped in the Caddy to make our way back down the hill to SLC. From there, it was an easy flight to SNA and back home.
Here’s what I love about Inspirato Pass. The sting of sadness at the end of a vacation is countered by the immediate excitement of booking your next trip, which you can do the actual day of check-out! In our case, we booked a villa at Pelican Hill Resort for a family Spring Break staycation, a trip we’re enjoying right now. (I’m actually sitting on our patio looking out over the golf course and ocean as I write this)
Thank you to Inspirato for once again for creating the context that gave my girls and I another unforgettable vacation! See you next winter Deer Valley!
And as always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments here.