A Relaxing Staycation at Cliff Lodge
By Skimum Paula
When you have over a half dozen ski resorts in your backyard, it’s tough to leave home. OK, before you out-of-towners start throwing snowballs, know that one of the problems is that you Californians, Texans and Floridians take up all the seats on most flights! Honestly, many Utahns choose to stick around during the winter months to play in the snow. We throw our ski gear in the car, head up to Snowbird for a few hours (no, we don’t ski all day; someone has to pick up the kids from school), and then head back to make dinner and go to a varsity volleyball game. While it’s fun – a lot of fun – it’s not a vacation.
Snowbird Premium Pass holders who purchased early got a special treat this season – a free night at Cliff Lodge. Family Pass holders received two nights or two rooms. So, after cleaning up the Thanksgivmakkah dinner, we piled our gear, PJs and toothbrushes into the car and enjoyed a staycation at the Bird. It was very, very different and very, very good.
Instead of swinging into the Gad Valley parking lot, we pulled into the heated entrance of the Cliff Lodge, gave our keys to the valets who unloaded our suitcases, handed them off to the bell captain and then whisked away our ski gear to Lodge’s private locker room. Our hands were not only warm but empty leaving us to proceed to check-in with ease.
As hubby was getting the room keys, I was chatting with the concierge, who not only told me about mountain conditions but what was going on inside the Lodge – big screen movies, board games to borrow, game room downstairs, heated family pool and hot tub next to Chickadee. My non-skiing teen stopped moping; my other skiing kids starting planning their après ski activities. Of course, the Cliff Spa is on the roof (I’ve written about that in a prior post), but I wouldn’t make it there this trip. I can come up anytime for a stone massage. Put that snowball down!
After getting settled in our adjoining rooms, we all … relaxed… together. The TVs stayed off and everyone just took a few moments to read, text a friend, listen to music, and even talk to each other! It was surprisingly peaceful though. No fighting. No whining. No, “I’m bored!” We were entering vacation mode.
By the way, the beds in the rooms are amazing! Super comfy. Almost Heavenly. Great pillows.
We decided to have dinner upstairs at The Aerie Restaurant. I always forget how much I like The Aerie. The food and service are terrific. It’s beautiful with its two-story windows facing the mountain. Oh, and to please the kids or sports fans, there are a few “TV Tables”, booths with a screen discretely placed behind a curtain. While I’m not normally a proponent of “tech at the table,” if it keeps the peace and keep everyone at the table longer, then why not? It’s vacation! Hubby and I planned to sneak to the Aerie Lounge, an incredibly stylish, adults-only refuge, after the kids went to bed, but we fell asleep early! J I guess we’ll just head up during the week some time. It has a yummy après ski menu as well as a sushi bar and is open to everyone.
The next morning involved more food, of course. The Atrium Restaurant has a fantastic buffet as well as a la carte items giving you plenty of fuel for a big ski day. I must admit that the hit was the hot chocolate – rich chocolaty yumminess with a thick mountain of whipped cream on top. Ridiculously good!
We hadn’t seen our ski gear since we got out of the car. They were stowed in the Lodge Locker Room on the first floor. Big tall private lockers are available to guests free of charge. The attendants are very … attendant! They’ll even help you put on your boots. From there, you ski out the door to Chickadee. How easy is that?
The skiing was great, but when one kid was done, it didn’t end the day. He went in to meet the non-skiing sibling, and they had lunch at El Chanate, the Mexican restaurant on the lower level of the Lodge and then hit the game room next door. They were happy, we were happy. We met them there, played some video games together and even winning a few (we did grow up with Donkey Kong, after all).
Maybe the best part of the trip was that it only took us 20 minutes to get home. No airports, security, traffic or potty stops. While Warren Miller famously said, “The family that skis together, bitches at one another.” I doubt he was talking about those who vacation or staycation at Snowbird.