Step one: land in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Step two: take in your surroundings (snow-capped mountains? Check. Reminiscent Olympic vibe? Check. Church of Latter Day Saints? Undetected, which is unfortunate because they make the best commercials ever).
Step three: make the winding, 30-minute drive up to the Deer Valley ski resort area and check in at Black Bear Lodge.
Sitting firmly at 7,200′ elevation, midway up the mountain, Black Bear Lodge is right in the heart of the Deer Valley resort. It’s steps from one of the most established rental shops in the state (go out the front doors, turn left, stay on the same side of the road and walk about one minute) and only a few steps more to a chair lift.
You’ll feel nestled into a cozy, little ski village. With lovely views both up and down the windy road that leads you to the Lodge.
The condos here are what I call rustic-luxe. They have that whole cowboy-goes-to-Hollywood-and-buys-a-ROLEX thing happening — which is fitting since this is where Robert Redford’s famous Sundance Film Festival is held each year (Park City, that is; not the Black Bear Lodge itself). It’s not hard to get comfortable in these condos, and the luxury feels relaxed and understated, but it’s definitely high-end.
Each condo has a balcony with a hot tub, which is refilled daily and heated by 4 p.m., ready for all your après needs. If you have a room with a great view, you’ll love tubbing at night with all of Deer Valley’s lights in the distance. It’s ridiculously pretty.
Your condo’s also fully equipped with a kitchen and dining room. A full-sized fridge, oven/stove, double sink and enough pots, pans, plates, glassware and cutlery for even the biggest family. OK, maybe not The Duggars or anything, but you get my drift.
Black Bear Lodge beds are very comfortable. And huge. I had a king bed all to myself (glorious!), and it was perched so high that I had to jump up to get into it. There were so many covers that I actually got too warm some nights, which is unusual for me because I’m that girl with perpetually cold feet.
Each room will also have its own ensuite, and then there was a communal third bathroom in our two-bedroom condo as well. The toiletries provided were nice, too.
I loved the decor. As I mentioned, Black Bear Lodge Deer Valley has a very rustic look and feel. I’m talking horns on the walls, wheat sheaf art, a stone hearth and bedframes made out of actual logs. It’s got high-end, back-country cabin written all over it.
You can bring your ski gear right into the condo and keep it in the front hall. No storage lockers necessary. And I much prefer this — so much more convenient than traipsing a family’s worth of skis and poles to and from a locker.
So. Much. Space. This is definitely one of the biggest condos I’ve stayed in. Between the two bedrooms and living room pullout sofa, you could sleep seven people. Then there are the three bathrooms I mentioned, plus the living room, dining room and kitchen. And two huge balconies. You won’t be tripping over yourselves or be hard-pressed to find space to unpack at Black Bear Lodge. It also means you’ll really be able to relax here. I know I did.
It’s a little thing, but I need to note how good the elevator is. It mostly seemed to open the second I pushed the button or was there in less than a minute otherwise.
There was a beautiful heated outdoor pool not 10 paces from our condo door:
Even the lobby was a nice spot to sit and read a magazine or newspaper, have a coffee and generally just plunk oneself in front of a roaring fire.
Get ready to spend. This is not econo-lodging. Black Bear Lodge’s rustic luxe-ness doesn’t come cheap. Your budget will need to handle anywhere from US$800 to $2,300 per night for one of these condos. And while I don’t ordinarily consider price a gaffe just because it’s on the higher-than-average side, I do believe that you should get premium service and experiences for a premium price tag. For an average nightly stay of US$1,500, I would expect a set of robes and slippers in each bathroom along with daily housekeeping. Without robes, it made it much colder trying to get to the pool across the hall or to après with friends on another floor. The absence of daily housekeeping meant beds weren’t made when we came back from skiing nor did we have fresh dishes to use when we wanted to eat in the condo.
The bathrooms could use a design update. But more important is the hot water situation. I was having a shower one day, and not five minutes in, I lost all the hot water. It was sudden, and IT WAS COLD. I stepped out and left it the water running for several more minutes in hope of it being just a fluctuation, but I didn’t get any hot water back. Strangely, I turned on the tap and got hot water immediately.
Black Bear Lodge is not a ski-in and -out property, though it comes close. However, with small kids in tow, you will have to carry all of your gear to the chair lift.
For visitors arriving “after hours,” you need to know that Black Bear Lodge is operated by two property management companies: Wyndham Vacation Rentals and Resorts West. Because it’s not a hotel per se, there isn’t someone at the front desk 24/7. So if you aren’t planning to arrive between, say, 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., be sure you get the check-in details from whomever you’ve booked the condo. Not exactly ideal but if you arrive knowing your check-in will differ slightly, it won’t be as much of a pain.