I’m hooked on Sundance, Utah. It’s a balm for what ails modern moms. If you’re like me, you keep quite a schedule managing career and kids. At Sundance you can slow down and renew your love of the outdoors and simply catch your breath. While the resort is incredibly popular as a summer destination, my first visit was this past winter. I’m hooked on the magic of this place.
The Sundance Story
Sundance started as actor/director/icon Robert Redford’s dream. He imagined it as a place for creativity and quiet. But don’t mistake that for being boring. This ski resort can be engaging and exciting. What makes this ski spot so different from other Utah ski resorts, is the setting. The manmade portions of the resort live at peace with the natural surroundings. The only thing grand and epic about this place is the views from the top.
Redford’s creative stamp AND possessions are all over this idyllic ski spot. In fact, Bob and his family still own the resort. You’ll find there is nothing corporate or contrived about this experience. From the beer (Bob’s Brew is on tap in the Owl Room bar), to the world’s largest collection of Cachina dolls on display in the Tree Room Restaurant, you’re bound to be delighted. Everything represents Bob’s personal taste. While I didn’t have a run-in with “Bob,” as the locals call him, I still felt like I totally “got” him and what he wanted to create.
The resort’s design is intentionally spread-out. Rather than build a massive lodge to hold guests, Sundance guests get tucked away in condos and houses sprinkled around the property. The wooden cabins blend with the surroundings effortlessly.
The property is quite walkable—just give yourself time to ramble. My sweet room in the Mandan area was about a 10 minute walk uphill from the base area. The cabin had a serviceable mini-kitchen (I could have prepared breakfast or a light lunch in it) but more importantly, a working fireplace. The fireplace was stocked with seasoned wood and fire-starting logs to make even a novice fire-starter capable of whipping up a roaring fire in just a few minutes.
Outside my door was the winding footpath to “base camp” where the restaurants and activities can be found. Walking beside a babbling stream is a wonderful way to get to dinner. There’s no GO GO GO attitude here. The staff want you to look, linger and love what you do and see.
Speaking of lingering, set aside some time for a spa appointment. The spa is located up in the Mandan area and has a handful of treatment rooms and a small area for repose. Make time for some post-massage chillaxation—grab a cup of herbal tea and stare at the cozy fire. What it’s missing? A sauna and steam room –both in my opinion would fit with the vibe of the resort and offer guests a bit more R&R. I get the feeling that Sundance isn’t much into guests making new friends. Most folks kept to themselves, it’s an introverts retreat.
What else is missing?
A pool. My family loves the post-ski swim. And I love my aprés-ski soak in the hot tub as flakes gently fall around me. I guess the silence and tranquility of this resort would be ruined by a big splashy pool and a overstuffed hot tub area. Yes, Bob, I get it.
Navigate the perfect day at Sundance:
7:30 a.m. Wander down to the yoga yurt for sunrise meditation. It’s a 30-miunute guided mediation in the most peaceful setting—there’s even a fireplace warming the room naturally.
8:00 a.m. If you’ve got time, add in a morning yoga class at in the same location.
9:00 a.m. After getting centered, time for breakfast. Grab your ski gear and walk to the Foundry Grill in the main hub of Sundance base camp. The foundry is all about hearty food. Dig into a delicious omelet or smoked salmon plate.
9:45 a.m. The ski day starts at Ray’s lift, just steps away from breakfast. Click into your skis and start going up, up, up. There aren’t any hi-speed lifts here. At Sundance the goal is to relax and enjoy the views.
10:00 a.m. Hop off at one of the midway points and get in a warm up run on Outlaw to the Stampede. Once you’ve got your ski legs on, it’s time to hunt down more challenging runs off the Arrowhead Lift. Sundance has plenty of bowls for advanced skiers and groomers for those not ready for too much excitement.
1:00 p.m. Take a break at Bear Claw for the best nachos in the West. They pile them high with EVERYTHING good. Step outside to get views of the Utah Valley, Wasatch Peaks and Unita Mountains. Definitely Instagram worthy photos up there.
4:00 p.m. After skiing book an appointment in the spa. Try the 60-minute signature massage.
6:30 p.m. Cocktails at the Owl Bar. They’ve got a great list of local brews on tap and a number of signature cocktails. The bar traveled a long way to come to rest in Utah—it was transported to Sundance from Wyoming where the “real” Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid threw them back in the 1890s.
7:30pm Dinner in the Tree Room. The room gets it’s name from a pine tree in the center of the room—apparently it was such a lovely tree the architects couldn’t bare to take it down (it died anyway, but the trunk is still there). The restaurant it decorated with Native American art from Redford’s collection. Don’t miss the Cachina doll display case in the center of the room near the tree. The food is American dining at it’s best. Local trout, local elk, seasonal vegetables…a localvore’s paradise.
9:00pm stroll back home and start a fire and catch up on your reading.
How they stand out
The pace of the Sundance is distinctive. You won’t find lift lines or crowds. It beats me why more locals don’t pop into Sundance for the day, but for now Sundance remains a relative secret. While my kiddos weren’t with me on this trip, it seems like a perfect place to get a child started on skis. The kids’ school is located near Ray’s lift and the beginners start off in an area secured beyond the chairlift.
Don’t forget to pop into the General Store—it’s a great spot to pick up après ski fashions and gifts for the kids.
I’m also angling (pun intended) to get in a summer visit soon. Sundance is an artist’s hub and hosts amazing live performances all summer long. This is an outdoorswoman’s paradise. There’s tons of hiking, rafting and fly-fishing for blue ribbon trout.
One disappointment on my quick trip—I didn’t get to take an art class. Next time I visit I’m going to try pottery. When I toured the art studio and saw an awesome pottery class in action I really wanted to jump in. Check out all the classes in the art studio (silversmithing, beading, painting, photography and more) here.
If you love tapping into your artsy side and want to soak in a laid back vibe, Sundance is THE spot for your ski retreat.
Get more information at www.sundanceresort.com
This is not a sponsored post. I did receive accomodations through Ski Utah