Alta — Lodging
(Area Code 801)
Alta is one of the few ski areas that still has traditional ski lodges where breakfast and dinner are included in the cost. This is a super way to meet new people, particularly if you are traveling alone. Most of these lodges also have either dorm rooms or single occupancy rates available. Ask whether your room has a private bath, since some rooms do not. Rates are lower in value season, which is prior to mid-December, most of January, and April to closing.
It doesn’t get any better than the luxurious Alta’s Rustler Lodge (742-2200; 888-532-2582; $$–$$$$; above). Recently remodeled, it’s rich in colors and textures reminiscent of a private club, yet at the same time conveys the inviting feeling of home. It has an outdoor heated pool and hot tub plus a eucalyptus steam room, workout room and full-service spa. The elegant restaurant and bar have picture windows looking right out onto the mountain. Prices include a sumptuous breakfast and a savory gourmet dinner accompanied by live dinner music. The menu changes frequently and the food here is some of the best we’ve had at a slopeside lodge…anywhere. If you think the cost is a bit much for your budget, consider this: The lodge attends to your every need and everything is all-inclusive. If you like hot chocolate and latte breaks, munchies such as fondue for apres-ski, or even warm milk for your kids at bedtime, this is the place to stay. It’s midway between the Albion and Wildcat base areas and has its own chair lift.
The Alta Lodge (800-707-2582, reservations only; 742-3500; $$–$$$; left) is a 57-room inn with saunas, hot tubs and several common areas, including the popular Sitzmark Club bar with its views of the slopes. By guest preference over the years, the lodge has only one television, a large-screen unit with satellite and a video/DVD library. The Alta Lodge is simply and eclecticly furnished. Eighty percent of the guests are customers who return each year and know each other on a first-name basis, but they’re unpretentious and eager to make you feel part of the “family.” The lodge has a free kids’ program that includes transportation to and from the Alta Day Care and Children’s Ski School, after skiing activities, a kids-only dinner and after-dinner kids’ movies. Longtime Alta Mayor (until recently) Bill Levitt is the proprietor who will be happy to regale guests with tales from Alta’s storied past (and present). Breakfast and a four-course dinner are included in the price. Seating is family-style, where you join other guests at open tables, unless you prefer the privacy of a booth or a small table. But half the fun is swapping stories while you make new friends. The same chef has been in the kitchen for more than 30 years and the food is very good—even the spagetti that the owner insists be on the dinner menu every night (against the chef’s better judgement). The lodge, atop a small hill, is close to the Wildcat Base and skiers can grab a rope tow at the end of the day to get back up. The lodge also rents a luxury two-bedroom condominiums at the View, halfway between Alta and Snowbird; rates range from $350–$550 per night.
The Alta Peruvian (800-453-8488; 742-3000; $–$$$; right) has quite a history. The building was a nurses’ barracks during World War II that was sectioned, loaded onto flatbed trucks and moved to its present location at Alta 10 years after the ski area opened in 1938. The sections were re-connected and feature small but cozy rooms, some with baths, some with facilities down the hall and spacious common gathering rooms, family dining rooms and a jumping bar scene upstairs from the lobby. The Peruvian has a 75 percent return rate each year as people reconnect in this throwback, funky property with one of the only heated outdoor pools and hot tubs in the village. It’s a friendly camp sort of atmosphere. No TVs, radios and all that. Rates include lift passes, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ski out the back door. It’s a short walk from the Wildcat Base or take the lodge’s free shuttle. Don’t miss the best and smallest ski shop in the village run by a guy who’s been at Alta for 17 years. He and his staff know and have everything.
Goldminer’s Daughter (800-453-4573, reservations only; 742-2300; $$–$$$), named after a huge mining claim, is closest to the Wildcat lift. The outside resembles 1960s Soviet housing, but on the inside, it’s quite pleasant and has everything you need. Extensive renovations revamped the lobby in 2003 and rooms in 2004. Complementary wireless Internet is available in the lobby, lounge and cafe. Prices include breakfast and a remarkably good dinner.
Snowpine Lodge (742-2000; $$–$$$), Alta’s oldest ski-in/ski-out lodge, oozes with rustic simplicity. The private and dorm-style rooms cater to skiers who visit Alta to ski, rather than to party. Dinner is served in a group dining setting and there’s a made-to-order breakfast. After skiing, soak in the outdoor hot tub or take a sauna in the basement, which was where Dick Durrance taught wax clinics to the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army preparing for battle in World War II. Guests watch group television in a living room full of upholstered chairs and couches. A different video movie is played here each evening. It makes for comfortable camaraderie that extends way beyond “where are you from” conversation..
Two large condominium complexes, Hellgate (742-2020; $$$–$$$$ ) and Blackjack (800-343-0347; 742-3200; $$–$$$$) are between Alta and Snowbird, with Blackjack better situated for skiing between the two resorts. Both have van service to the ski areas. Studios, one-bedrooms sleeping four, two-bedrooms sleeping six and three-bedrooms are offered.
Canyon Services (800-862-2888) rents luxurious condos and homes with fully equipped kitchens, washers and dryers, and cable TV.
You also may want to consider lodging in Salt Lake City.
Accommodations Legend: (double room) $$$$–$200+; $$$–$141–$200; $$–$81–$140; $–$80 and less