Home Away From Home: How Alta Redefines the Feel of a Ski Area Community
Generations of skiers keep returning to the Alta Ski Area in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains for several reasons. The more obvious attractions are the quality deep powder that never fails to blanket the mountain year after year, the challenging terrain, and the world-class mountain reserved for skiing only. But locals and frequent visitors will tell you it’s the close-knit community and purist vibe that sets this ski area apart from other resorts in the nation.
"Alta’s community spirit is special because of all of us who have chosen to live, work, and play here," says former Alta Ski Area Director of Marketing Connie Marshall, who retired this past season following 44 years at Alta.
"Many have been here for decades, but they are not shy about welcoming the newcomer. There is a spirit of authenticity, pride and appreciation of the natural place that so many spend their lives trying to preserve."
Thanks to a professional skier who scouted the area (Alf Engen), a passionate group of local businessmen who funded the cause, and an Alta miner who sold the land to relieve his tax burdens, the ski area became a reality in 1938. Since then it has been growing, evolving, and catering to the needs of ski lovers from near and far who call this place a "home away from home."
What exactly makes Alta different compared to other ski resort destinations? The ski area is made up of several local independent businesses that reflect the community culture of knowledgeable skiers, mountaineers, and adventurers. It also offers a variety in lodging and amenities to satisfy all types and groups of skiers who want to make the Alta experience their own.
The Alta Ski Area has five lodges, which boast a yearly guest return rate of 70 percent. Each lodge is individually run and owned by a family and provides different amenities depending on what you’re looking for. (Breakfast and dinner are included in the reservations at all five lodges.) Here’s a quick breakdown on what each lodge offers:
The most traditional and historic option at Alta, the Alta Lodge is best known for its ski-in/ski-out access to lifts, heated pools, saunas, and the Sitzmark Club bar. The design of the lodge literally centers on getting the most amount of skiing time while staying here. Plus, in-room boot heaters mean you’ll also ski in comfort.
The Alta Peruvian Lodge has a communal atmosphere where hearty breakfast buffets and energizing lunches are served in a cafeteria-style dining setting. There’s plenty of opportunity to meet new faces and find ski buddies here. Or simply relax and admire the surrounding natural splendor of the mountains in Alta’s largest outdoor heated pool. The Alta Peruvian Bar is a local favorite, and one of the most recognized après-ski bars in the country.
Families and even solo-traveling business professionals will appreciate this lodge the most. Alta's Rustler Lodge is known for having the best personal service, offering children’s programs, spa services (including a hot tub, steam room, and exercise room) and complimentary use of the business center with wireless Internet. There’s no such thing as not being able to both work and play while staying here.
Just as the name suggests, the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge is the most rustic out of the five. It’s located at the base of Alta’s lifts and provides the perfect getaway from life’s distractions.
After a massive renovation, the Snowpine Lodge will still maintain a cozy and intimate atmosphere with private rooms that have a private bath or dorm-style living with shared baths. After a full day of skiing, warm up in the hot tub or gather with friends around a fire pit. You’ll forget you’re staying in a hotel here.
Besides Alta’s five distinct lodges, there are also vacation home rentals dispersed throughout the ski area for those looking to get away from the crowds. Most all of the vacation rentals are located along the Alta Town Shuttle Route, making transportation a breeze, and they all feature scenic mountain views. Some even offer extra luxuries like a hot tub or a private chef.
Regardless of where you choose to stay in Alta, there’s a high probability you’ll be returning soon, whether it's the skiing, the welcoming overnight options, the vibrant community, or all three.
Written by Emily Polachek for RootsRated Media in partnership with Alta. Updated 2/6/19 by Adam Fehr.