For some people, the word “Sundance” conjures images of Robert Redford in the movie Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid, a mail-order catalogue, a film festival, or a cable channel. To me, however, Sundance equals a majestic mountain retreat—nestled at the foot of a in a grove of aspen trees.
Intimate, unpretentious and rustic by design, differs from o
ther resorts in more than size. Founded by Robert Redford in 1969, this 6,000-acre community preserved with ruggedly elegant guest accommodations is devoted to maintaining a balance of recreation, arts and the environment. Sundance is a short 50-minute (mostly interstate) drive from the Salt Lake City airport, yet it is a world away when it comes to atmosphere.
A gurgling creek winds through the forest and around bucolic cottages. Every detail of the property, lodge, restaurant and cottages is aesthetically pleasing. Stop to admire the mint-condition saddle at the entrance to the Owl Bar or enjoy the murals of horses and antique farm tools in the Foundry Grill over French Toast at breakfast.
Every season offers a reason to visit from summer cultural events in the mountainside amphitheater for concerts, plays and performances by the Utah Symphony to the Author Series, Film Festival and Food and Wine Festival.
Winter Wonderland. If you’re looking for a glamorous ski resort filled with action, lots of
dining options and chic entertainment, Sundance is not for you. If, like me, you enjoy nature, solitude and Native American and western décor in warm cottages, then you’ll love Sundance.
Discreetly tucked into a rugged canyon of the Wasatch Mountain Range, Sundance offers guests a lodging choice of studios, or suites with full kitchens, and living and dining areas. Twelve rental homes up the canyon’s single road are also available. I stayed in a wood-beamed Mountain Suite, with a separate bedroom, full kitchen, dining area, and fireplace. It was tastefully decorated with Native American rugs and blankets. I built a fire in the stone fireplace and could have nestled in for a week, but powder skiing beckoned.
The ski mountain, at 8,200 feet, has 41 runs. Although it is not as large or high as those found an hour away at Deer Valley, Alta, Park City, or Snowbird, it has enough expert and intermediate runs to hold the interest of skiers who want to get away from the crowds and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
After a day on the mountain, create your own piece of jewelry in the Art Shack, enjoy the warmth of a leisurely meal beside a crackling fire in the Foundry Grill, attend a yoga class, or go horseback riding.
After three days of skiing, and competing with myself on the slopes, I slipped into the art studio and let my creative self take over. After collecting pine needles and choosing my own color palette, I made the first “print” of my life. It’s frame-able in my humble opinion.
Ready to relax? Then pamper yourself shamelessly at the spa, inspired by Native American philosophy for a sacred environment for the restoration and healing of the body and spirit. In six soft-lit, natural wood rooms, massage therapists blend Native American traditions, organic products, and the human touch to bring your mind, body, and spirit back into perfect balance. I indulged in the Sage and Sweet Grass Ritual which included a Great Salt Lake Mud body wrap and essential oil re-hydration. This purifying, energizing therapy is enriched with the ritual Smudging (sweeping the smoke) of White Sage and Sweet Grass.
Why sage and sweet grass?
Sage, a powerful medicine and purifier, is burned as a protection against malevolent energies. It is used to establish a sacred boundary and to connect people with the spirit world.
Braided Sweet Grass reminds us of Mother Earth. It’s smoke is used to call blessings and send prayers to the Great Spirit (Wakan Takan). Sweet Grass is believed to carry the deep wisdom of the Earth.
The blissful body treatment was accompanied by the sound of soft Native American music and the crackling fire outside the door and the scent of burning sage.
Evening arrives and it’s time to cozy up to someone special and revel in comfort food from the distinguished chef at the Tree Room Restaurant, recipient of the prestigious AAA Four Diamond and Wine Spectator Awards. The ambiance is romantic, with soft candlelight. The walls are hung with Native American art, and the room has a museum-quality collection of Hopi Kachina dolls and memorabilia from Robert Redford’s personal collection.
In the spring and summer things really heat up in Sundance.