Enrich the family experience.
By Jane Gendron
The funicular ride sets the tone. It’s fun. It’s unique. Its appeal spans generations. Once aboard the tram-like car, a few genteel moments of ascent reveal a hawk- eye view of the hotel’s surroundings—a playground of trails, peaks and western- inspired adventure. In this context, “family friendly” is not just coloring pages served up with mac & cheese. True to its “bespoke” (a.k.a. tailored) tradition, The St. Regis is redefining “family friendly.”
In a quest to “enrich the family experience,” as activities supervisor and naturalist by avocation Robbie Preece puts it, the resort gives guests a wide range of mountain adventure. Outings tend to incorporate a fun or unusual twist. Hiking isn’t just hiking. It’s an alpine education in flora, fauna, history and even a lesson in how to be a “locavore.” The hotel’s popular nature hike, which starts at the terrace and loops back in roughly an hour, includes tidbits on geology, local plants and animals and the area’s mining history—plus a post-hike cup of freshly brewed Douglas fir tea (yes, guests collect the refreshing, aromatic needles along the way).
In the autumn, Preece makes the most of the changing aspens and scrub oaks in a “fall foliage tour.” The hike’s pièce de resistance is a tree tunnel of golds, oranges and reds. Wildlife lovers may choose to join a mid-October jaunt to track down elk as they are in the midst of courtship bugling. Rather than stumbling across the herd, guests pile into an Escalade and head toward where a herd was last spotted. Preece plays a recorded elk bugle over the car’s sound system and, typically, a bull will bugle back a warning to keep away from his harem.
“What’s great about elk herds is that you don’t have to see them to appreciate them,” says Preece. Of course, he’s happy to facilitate wildlife viewing by taking guests a couple of miles down the road to view the resident osprey family or pausing along the trail to watch a red-tailed hawk. Animal experts, such as Wild Wonders Utah (an animal rescue non-profit), regularly bring their feathered, furry and reptilian creatures to the resort for up-close-and personal encounters and education.
Aside from adventurous excursions, the resort has plenty of onsite, family-oriented fun. The infinity pool and extensive, techie gaming options cater to all ages. Families also receive welcome and farewell treats—candy apples or brownies or cupcakes or gummy worms. Although there is a certain all-age- inclusiveness to The St. Regis’ family programming, parents can always enlist babysitters or take advantage of neighboring Deer Valley Resort’s camps and daycare.
The family-oriented programming ranges from storytelling with “Stetson: Street Dog of Park City” author (and St. Regis concierge) Jeanine Heil and photography lessons to stargazing on the terrace and family movie night. There is a plein air painting class with artist Joy McManaman, photo ops with Olympic freestyle skier and St. Regis Ski Ambassador Shannon Bahrke, stand-up paddle boarding with Trent Hickman and the “crown jewel” of all outings: paragliding.
Outfitted by Super Fly Utah, the “exhilaration at altitude” adventure begins with a motorboat tow on the Jordanelle Reservoir. When the paragliding duo (instructor and passenger ride in tandem) reach an altitude of 2,000-plus feet, then they may free themselves from the tether and resume a mild or adrenaline-pumping flight. The lofty thrill is followed by a lakeside continental breakfast.
The list of fun and unique programming doesn’t end. Preece’s collection of hikes and outings are multiplied by a hearty assortment of concierge- facilitated area activities and the creative ways to spend time together as a family just continue to grow.
“These programs are infinitely customizable,” says Preece. “With enough notice, I can do almost anything.” Horseshoe tournament? No problem. A hike with world-renowned athlete Shannon Bahrke? Sure. Pint-sized bathrobes? Absolutely. Consider family friendly redefined.