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Savvy Traveler: Sunny skies, deep snow in Utah

BY BOB AND SANDY NESOFF

Mention Utah to anyone and thoughts immediately go to the great Mormon religion and Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival.

But there is so much more.

Flying out of JFK via Delta Airlines was a no-brainer. It was an opportunity to test-fly our new Delta Skymiles/American Express Gold Card. The lure of 40,000 bonus miles for signing up and other perks was too much to pass up.

Since skiing was going to be a main focal point of this trip, being able to take along a checked bag was of critical importance. The new card not only offers priority boarding, but provides one free checked bag for the holder and up to eight others traveling on the same reservation. That’s quite a saving.

Utah is arguably one of the most visitor-friendly destinations in the world. That may be a strong statement but not when you note that the majority of ski areas and vacation resorts lie within an hour’s drive of the airport. Many, such as Park City-Deer Valley, are just a bit more than a half hour drive.

The Zermatt Resort in Midway is something straight out of the Swiss Alps. The music that greets visitors could have been bouncing off the Matterhorn. Personnel are on the spot to help and could win an award for personality.

.  Directly across the road from the resort is one of the more unique spots that should be on a “must see” list — the Homestead Crater.

The crater sits under a huge, natural dome and is hollow. Inside is a natural hot spring that fills the crater with a humid fog. Swimmers loll around even though outside temperatures hover just below freezing. Add to that the opportunity to scuba dive in the middle of a field and you’ve come up with one of the most unusual vacation opportunities anywhere.

If you are intent on skiing, there is a bit of a drive from Zermatt to the areas of Park City, Deer Valley and The Canyons. These three rival anything the Alps can offer. One run at Deer Valley is some five miles long with easy turns and a view that goes on forever.

While Zermatt and the Park City area are wide open, Redford’s Sundance Resort is tucked away into a small valley. There is a narrow road off the main highway leading directly to Sundance, bordered by steep mountains on both sides.

Redford has crafted one of the most eco-friendly resorts in the world. The accommodations fit neatly into the natural surroundings and virtually everything is either recycled or made on premises to minimize the footprint.

Dining at Sundance is an experience with a variety of wild game offered, prepared by the hands of expert chefs. While the restaurants are toward the bottom of the mountain,   Sundance offers shuttle service. Just pick up the phone in your room and the van is there in minutes.

As spring beings to approach and the snow creeps slowly up the mountains, Utah takes on a new role for vacationers. The sign is out — “Families Welcome” as well as adults only.

For more information, check out www.visitutah.com.

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