Destination park city

For five months a year, Utah’s premium ski resort becomes a family winter paradise.

Once a silver mining town, Utah’s Park City, perched at 7,000 feet above sea level, has now taken on a whole new purpose. As well as its powdery ski runs and 400 miles of trails, this hub of high-end fashion is also a magnet for vibrant cuisine and, as the home of the Sundance Film Festival, a cultural hot spot to boot. Nestled in the craggy Wasatch Mountain Range, Park City’s first-rate environs also make it the ideal location for the all-new Mazda CX-90—the Japanese marque’s newest headline SUV, itself packed with exciting moments, a high-end, premium feel, and a taste for adventure as standard.

One of Park City’s most interesting talking points is its population. Usually sitting at around 8,000 people, the city experiences a 75-fold increase in skiers and thrill seekers, gastronomists and celebrities, artists and vacationers, every single season, with around 600,000 visitors each year.

Four of these temporary Parkites are the Clerkin family: Holly and Ruairi, and their children Declan and Ronan. Each year, the family migrates northward from Palm Springs, driving the luxurious CX-90 from California via Nevada and into Utah, to get a slice of Park City’s much-lauded mountain life.  

 “I really wanted the winter to be a part of their lives.”

As Mazda’s most technologically advanced vehicle to date, it’s a welcome companion for the Clerkin family heading north to Park City, with its calming interior providing a warm welcome as they approached the comparatively chillier climes of the Wasatch Mountain Range, which was preparing for a huge dumping of snow. “We utilized the heated seats pretty often,” says Holly after the drive. “The CX-90’s all-wheel drive was brilliant across the weekend, too. I felt in control the whole time.”

With an unforgettable long weekend in Park City ahead of the family, the next few days would see them exploring what this mountainous region has to offer across its 7,300 acres. There’s plenty for this adventurous foursome, whether it’s been a typical month of snowfall at over 300 inches, or something a little less dreamlike. Whatever the weather, Park City has become a special place for their two children. A “real home from home,” Holly says.

“The CX-90’s all-wheel drive was brilliant across the weekend.”

“We’re there as often as we can be. I really wanted the winter to be a part of their lives,” she continues. “We go up [to Park City] every winter, so that the kids can ski and experience the snow.”

Due to its roots in mining, Park City was formerly known as Treasure Mountain, and, although its name has changed since its inception in the Gold Rush, there remain plenty of rich moments for the Clerkins to discover. Namely, spending the morning with some of Park City’s most enthusiastic four-legged residents: a pack of Alaskan, Kamobee, and Siberian huskies, ready and raring to give the family a new spin on the concept of horsepower away from the powerful CX-90, this time in the form of a tandem sledding experience led by a local ‘musher.’ “The kids loved it,” Holly says. “It was probably their favorite thing.” And, just for good measure, it was followed by a family snowball fight.

For the Clerkins, themselves seasoned skiers, a long weekend spent in the mountains wouldn’t be complete without an afternoon on the slopes—and this trip is no different. “I grew up skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing,” says Holly, unloading the family’s gear from the CX-90’s trunk and no stranger to a challenging ski run in subzero conditions. “We go to Park City at least once a month in the winter.” Today the Clerkins have become part of the fabric of the area’s community—with their children, Declan and Ronan, relishing the time spent among the peaks, especially when it involves a sighting of local moose crossing the road. “Skiing with the kids is my favorite thing,” Holly says. “As a family, it’s just a magical experience.”

One particular pastime that the family happily embraced is a leisurely lunch at nearby Café Galleria’s Alpenglobes, at the base of the Wasatch Mountain Range. A quick grab-and-go lunch this is not: each climate-controlled globe provides a captivating panorama that’s impossible not to enjoy—reminiscent of the CX-90’s panoramic moonroof—and the beauty of the mountainside demands an hour or two of precious family time, best served with a slice—or two, or three—of pizza.

Naturally, with something savory must come something sweet, and Park City’s Ritual Chocolate, founded by Anna Seear and Robbie Stout, is the perfect place for a pick-me-up. The duo are passionate about economic sustainability and social impact, and the workshop is aromatic with lightly roasted cacao and highlights the importance of environmentally friendly practices.

“As a family, it’s just a magical experience.”

A few bites later, it was smiles all around. With the family back in the roomy confines of the car and making full use of the Bose sound system to keep the kids entertained, conversation quickly turns to Mazda’s exciting headline act: the CX-90. “Even though we’ve just bought a new car,” Holly laughs, “the kids asked if we can get the CX-90 instead. They already wanted to trade!” High praise, you’ll agree, from some of Park City’s most enthusiastic visitors.

Words Ed Cooper / Photography Anthony Dias / Film David Allen

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