Just a short drive through the mountains from Park City lies the namesake of the international film festival that descends upon the mountain town each year: Sundance. While the name alone may evoke the parties and exclusive screenings, the actual place couldn't be more different. Tucked into the base of the stunning Mount Timpanogos, Sundance Resort is more than just a mountain resort—though it does offer 450 acres of varied terrain blanketed in that famous light Utah snow—it's a wilderness-rich setting that fosters creativity and rejuvenates the body and soul. Owner and chairman Robert Redford, who acquired the resort and surrounding land in 1969, says it best: "This place in the mountains, amid nature's casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas."
One of the resort's key values is to nurture the balance between art, nature and community. This is not your typical destination ski resort decked out with condos and high-rise hotels. Sundance has the feel of the Old West—there are few pretensions and everything from the landscape to the lodge has a rugged, humble beauty to it. Looking out over the Wasatch Range, the feeling of immersion in the dramatic alpine beauty gives Sundance an inspiring quality rare in resorts just an hour's drive from a major airport.
While the location and scenery are stunning enough, it's the resort's focus on creativity that truly sets it apart. The art studio—just steps from the base of the mountain surrounded by tranquil ponds and mountain creeks—offers several one-off or series of classes including wheel-thrown pottery (with a skilled instructor) or photography. Painting, drawing and printmaking classes allow guests to draw on the natural surroundings for inspiration.
Each of Sundance's classes is tailored to the abilities of the students and include close instruction and all the materials needed. There's a true yoga-esque feeling of no judgements and no expectations, which means it's both genuinely relaxing and creative. After throwing a pot in ski boots as the sunset cast orange light across the studio, the standard aprés routine gives way to a much more productive one.
Even though Sundance's home-like vibe is one of its draws, it's not short of luxe amenities. On-site fine dining options offer hearty alpine-inspired fare. There's an aged feel to all of the bars and restaurants at the Sundance base, and there's some serious history in that old wood. The resort's bar—originally built in the 1890's and relocated to the Utah resort from Wyoming—was once frequented by Butch Cassidy and his gang. Rumor has it there are even a few bullet holes in the 120-year-old bar. For a lighter touch, a full-service spa is on hand with private accommodations dotted around the valley floor.
For a full look at Sundance Resort's year round activities visit them online.
Photos by Hans Aschim