At one time my dad worked for Netflix and took advantage of a company perk: an annual trip to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. He fell in love with the place and has made several trips back even after moving on to a new job. This year his girlfriend surprised him with a stay at the Marriott MountainSide for his birthday. This is a Marriott Vacation Club timeshare located at the base of the Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) that can also be booked with cash or Marriott Rewards points. All the kids flew in to celebrate in January.
I don’t normally stay in Marriott hotels or any sort of timeshare, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for a review. Loyalty Traveler recent did a similar review of the Hyatt Escala Lodge at the nearby Canyons ski area. Both are owned by Vail Resorts, and there are plans to link them with a gondola in the very near future.
But ski accommodations are a tricky topic. Location is possibly the most important factor, not comfort or whether the property is a part of your favorite chain. The ability to wake up and hit the slopes without commuting by car or shuttle is of huge importance.
The hotel was easy enough to find using the GPS in our rental car, and I had the advantage of visiting Park City once before. It’s probably one of the most convenient ski resorts for those flying in since it’s just a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City on a wide freeway with relatively low grade. We were already checked in, so I stopped by the front desk for a parking pass and continued to the underground garage.
Navigating the hallways was more difficult. Every room number started with “7” for some unknown reason; only the next digit told you what floor you were on. Carpeting in the hallways seemed thin, and wall treatments were sparse, but I think that was in anticipation of the heavy traffic and damage from everyone walking through with their ski gear. Like I said, ski resorts are entitled to different standards.
We eventually made it. Marsha booked us in a two-bedroom “villa” that consisted of a main kitchen area and living room with fireplace, a pullout sofa bed, a master bedroom, and a second guest bedroom. If you only wanted a one-bedroom villa, management could close the door to the guest room and rent it to someone else. But only the one- and two-bedroom villas had a washer/dryer and full kitchen. Cookware and dinnerware were provided, including plastic cups to take drinks down to the pool.
The master bedroom featured an open bathroom and a separate shower room (accessible from the living room).
The guest room that Megan and I stayed in was equivalent to a pretty average hotel room with the addition of a small refrigerator, microwave, and sink. Public laundry facilities were available down the hall. As I describe at the end, I don’t think you should stay here if all you want is an entry level guest room.
One of my personal disappointments was the lack of a bar and restaurant. As a timeshare, this is a very family-friendly destination with a large common room, movie theater, and other public spaces on the second floor near the pool deck. If you want to hang out friends for some après ski drinking you’ll probably want to go next door to one of the bars in the PCMR village.
But the pool deck is very nice. There’s a fire pit with some rocking chairs, and several heated pools and hot tubs. The hot tubs flow into each other with lots of rocks and waterfalls, providing a good opportunity to get some privacy from other guests. And you can take some drinks with you if you want — there is a plastic cup dispenser at the gate. I think it makes up for the lack of an in-house bar.
The ski valet is located at the rear of the pool deck, which makes for an awkward walk with all your gear past several pools to reach the snow. I feel like someone should have designed the building to put it closer to the gate. But it is free and better than taking our things all the way to our room. One last negative: there are no signs, so we had trouble finding it our first day when we skied down the mountain and ended up lugging our things through the main lobby before taking the elevator back up to the pool deck.
Where to Eat
Because dining options at the PMCR village are limited, you’ll want to either cook your own meals (which works fine for breakfast; there are several grocery stores after you exit the freeway) or head into town. In theory there is a complimentary town shuttle that will take you from the resort to downtown Park City where there are many restaurants and shops. But these appeared to be infrequent, and the schedule was not clearly published.
It isn’t a bad walk if the weather is good, though I recommend driving if you rented a car. Parking was relatively plentiful, and sometimes free, going just one block in either direction off Main Street. If it’s snowing, I recommend the garage underneath the Town Lift (it’s the first one you come to) because it is relatively inexpensive and is the only one that permits overnight parking.
Don’t get a taxi, at least not without negotiating the rate first. I paid $15 for a one-mile ride and never saw a meter. Drivers patrol the streets all night looking for customers who are too tired and cold to care about the price or wait for a free shuttle.
I especially liked the High West Distillery and Saloon and brought home a souvenir and a friend to drink it with. While there is a second store at the Salt Lake City airport, they don’t have a license to sell liquor for you to take home. I bought my bottle here and checked my bag. Jack got to ride in my laptop bag.
Is It Worth It?
Marriott’s website describes these as “world-class vacation villas,” though I think that description is overly generous. One only has to drive down the road to the St. Regis Deer Valley for a comparison, and I hesitate to use the word “villa” to describe anything that isn’t a detached building.
But I will say that these are some of the best ski in/ski out accommodations I’ve had the pleasure to stay in, and they appeared to be some of the best — and closest — accommodations to Park City Mountain Resort. I don’t recommend that you book with cash. Rates starting at $400 to $900 a night are simply unreasonable even taking convenience into account. But the deal gets much better using points. A guest room is 40,000 points per night, a one-bedroom villa is 45,000 points, and a two-bedroom villa is just 50,000 points. Using points is a great deal (1.8 cents per point) if you have a family and need the extra space of a larger villa.