You probably don’t need an excuse to plan a luxurious grown-up getaway this fall or winter, but just in case, I’ve got the ultimate: a stay at Sundance Resort. An easy commute from Salt Lake City, Sundance is located in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains directly under the shadow of dramatic Mt. Timpanogos. It’s affectionately known as ‘Bob’s place’, for founder and owner Robert Redford. And yes, he still spends ample time here.
In summer and fall, Sundance is a prime location for hiking, biking, and generally communing with nature, and in winter, its ski resort offers 450 acres of terrain. All year round, guests can enjoy Sundance’s stellar spa, art studio (with classes), yoga, meditation, and fine dining.
Why I recommend Sundance for the grown ups:
Don’t get me wrong: Sundance Resort is equipped to accommodate kids. It has refreshingly low lift ticket rates, which appeal to families, and the woodsy setting will certainly make kids feel at home. The thing is, you may not want them there. Sundance’s vibe is decidedly serene, with an emphasis on self-reflection, revitalization, and pampering. Imagine yourself sliding into your private jacuzzi tub or chilling on your deck in an adirondack chair, cocktail in hand…without kids to supervise.
The feeling of relaxation starts before you arrive. The drive from Salt Lake City (I came from the airport) takes about 45 minutes, the last few winding through a slotted canyon as you climb into the mountains. Immediately, you feel isolated from the bustle of the valley, a feeling that’s reinforced when you visit the reception center then wind uphill to find your accommodation tucked into the trees. The entire resort feels very intimate and manageable: you won’t see big parking lots or lodge buildings.
Lodging at Sundance:
I stayed in a studio suite about a 10 minute walk from the reception area. Lodging ranges from rooms and condos (of which there are 100) to a smaller selection of mountain homes. Condos range from studios to three-to-four bedrooms. My studio included a kitchenette (microwave, sink, coffee maker, and mini-fridge with counter space), a wood-burning fireplace, sitting area, large bathroom with jacuzzi tub, bedroom area with one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in, and a porch with chairs overlooking a creek and woods. The entire space was decorated with purpose: it was artsy, warm, and inviting.
Dining and shopping:
Sundance is known for boutique shopping, high dining, and outdoors-pursuits. In the central area at the base of the hill (by the reception area) is Sundance’s main shop, with everything you’d find in the Sundance catalogue, from jewelry to boutique clothing to logo items. Across the street, the small art studio offers classes as well as fine art. In fact, Sundance hires two glassblowers to be on staff seasonally, who make all of the resort’s glassware.
Sundance has a marketplace with items like sandwiches, smoothies, and pastries, plus candy and snacks to buy a la carte. The Foundry is what Sundance calls its ‘casual’ dining restaurant, but I might beg to differ (in a good way). The log cabin feel of the room is both warm and elegant; don’t miss the wall-to-wall mural at the back. You can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner here; we ate a wonderful breakfast before skiing.
Sundance’s signature restaurant is the Tree Room, where I dined surrounded by the private art and native artifact collections of Robert Redford himself. The dining experience here is exquisite, with impeccable service and a deep wine list. Expect to pay at least $30-40 per entree, but also prepare to be very satisfied with the experience. The atmosphere in the Tree Room is certainly refined, but not in a stuffy way. We had a lively group who loved socializing, and we felt right at home.
Also not to be missed: The Owl Bar, located adjacent to the Foundry. This rustic (yet again, somehow elegant) bar is the ideal apres ski spot, with craft cocktails served over the bar that once stood in Thermopiles, Wyoming during the late 1890s. Its most famous guests back in the day: Butch Cassidy and his gang. You can get appetizers and small plates in the Owl Bar, as well as beer on tap.
The Spa at Sundance:
My massage therapist at Sundance told me that she has clients who fly into Sundance and book a stay solely for the spa. After the most in-depth facial I’ve ever had, I can see why. The spa is located amid the lodging rooms at Sundance, and like the rest of the resort, it’s small and intimate. When I arrived, I was shown a place to change and given a Sundance tote bag to store my belongings (no locker rooms here). I was next directed to a chair by the fireplace, where I enjoyed a hot stone foot soak pre-treatment. The spa has a full line of services.
Outdoor recreation at Sundance:
Every day during our stay, complimentary yoga and meditation classes were offered at the yoga yurt at Sundance. There are also numerous walking and jogging trails. In summer, you’ll find horseback riding, mountain biking, and golf. In winter, there’s both a downhill skiing resort and nordic center for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The downhill resort has just one base area (right by the shop and Foundry), with its own rental center, small pro shop, and lift. Three additional lifts connect the first to a total of 45 runs.
Would I come for the skiing? Maybe not…after all, Sundance has some stiff competition in that department in the region. However, at Sundance, it’s about the overall experience: no lift lines, great service, wonderful food, a relaxed atmosphere. I’d be hard pressed to name a more beautiful ski area, as you ski directly below stunning Mt. Timpanogos. If you go, absolutely take a ski break at the top for some nachos at Bearclaw Cabin; you’ll feel as though you’re at the top of the world.
Rates begin at about $395 per night, and go upward from there. However, rates vary widely by season and room type, and come with major perks: rooms come with two complimentary lift tickets, as well as first tracks privileges. You also get free yoga and other wellness classes. Some rooms do include full kitchens and lofts for kids; if you do bring the family, you’ll want this amenity because eating every meal out would get very expensive. Without the kids, I’d splurge on the wonderful dining opportunities.
Sundance is located at 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road . From Salt Lake City, get onto I-80 east. Then turn right onto I-215 heading south. Next take I–15 South towards Provo. Continue on I-15 to exit #272 (which is 800 North in Orem) turn left heading east. Stay on 800 North through Orem to the mouth of the canyon. Stay in left hand lane, which will drop onto Hwy 189. Continue up the canyon approximately 7 miles to Scenic Route #92 which is the first left after the tunnel. Sundance is 2 miles up the canyon on the left.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Sundance Resort for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.