This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
For the fifth straight year, Deer Valley Resort has been rated the top ski resort in North America by the affluent readers of Ski magazine.
But Utah's plaudits don't end there. Three other resorts Park City, Canyons and Snowbird cracked the Top 20 in the publication's annual reader survey.
And when it comes to good snow, Utah dominated.
The Beehive State captured six of the 10 spots, with Alta leading the way at No. 1. While Wolf Creek, Colo., came in second, Powder Mountain and Snowbird were third and fourth. Brighton and Solitude were ranked sixth and seventh, and Deer Valley completed the Top 10.
"This speaks well for our whole industry in Utah," said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, marketing arm for the state's 14 resorts.
"Ski's readers are a discriminating crowd. They can go anywhere they want, and they're not influenced by price as much as most," he added. "When a resort is ranked No. 1 five years in a row, people say, 'We have to check this place out and find out why it's so great.' "
Greg Ditrinco, editor of the Colorado-based magazine, was not surprised by the public's high regard for Deer Valley and all of Utah's resorts.
"Utah does a really nice job of hosting a lot of skiers," he said. "The resorts are close to a major airport and the state is blessed with an abundance of snow."
Deer Valley has an edge over its usual rivals for the top spot Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia and Vail in Colorado because it is smaller and does not allow snowboarders, Ditrinco said.
"It's a homogenous tribe that skis there, a fairly steady client base," he explained. "But Deer Valley also does a good job of knowing its clients and works hard at delivering the goods. During the recession, a lot of resorts cut back on staffing. Deer Valley tried hard to hold that to a minimum."
There's a reason for that. Resort President Bob Wheaton credited the staff for making a trip to Deer Valley an "amazing vacation experience.
"The culture here is to put the guest first at all times," he said. "Our employees not only accomplish this every day, but enjoy it. … My hat is off to our incredibly dedicated crew. This honor goes to them."
Quality dining also lifted Deer Valley's standing among Ski's readers, who are older, wealthier and impressed by off-slope amenities as much as the skiing. Two-thirds of respondents said they were willing to pay more for high quality.
Ditrinco noted that this year's survey looked deeper at lifestyle issues, "trying to get a finer feel for why consumers decide where to ski." In terms of food and dining, Deer Valley was No. 1, followed by Idaho's Sun Valley and Whistler.
Park City Mountain Resort took first in another lifestyle category "Best place to ski with kids." That helped lift Powdr Corp's flagship resort to a No. 6 ranking overall.
"Park City does a nice job of addressing family skiing," Ditrinco said. "And it's a really good boarding mountain, which fills a key and vital niche in your state."
He also said Canyons Resort, which was 16th, is "maturing as a resort and base area. There's a huge upside to the skiing experience there."
Snowbird was No. 20.
In praising Alta's snow, the magazine described the Little Cottonwood Canyon resort as "a classic, minimalist, hard-core hill that brings in pilgrims from all over the world who are in search of one simple salvation: powder."
Ski said Brighton gets "a ton of snow, plus easy access, so you'll never miss out on a powder day." It added that Solitude, "for some unknown reason, remains under the radar. And that's a good thing."
Ski's top resorts
1) Deer Valley, Utah
2) Vail, Colo.
3) Whistler Blackcomb, B.C.
4) Snowmass, Colo.
5) Sun Valley, Idaho
6) Park City Mountain, Utah
7) Beaver Creek, Colo.
8) Steamboat, Colo.
9) Breckenridge, Colo.
10) Telluride, Colo.
16) Canyons, Utah
20) Snowbird, Utah
Source: Ski magazine