Meet amid the stars
Not many mountain destinations are as world-renowned as Park City, Utah—or for so many reasons. Host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the town is a mecca for sports enthusiasts who come for the snow and come back for the bicycling in summer. Since it’s an easy, 35-minute ride from Salt Lake City International Airport, it’s possible to be on the slopes, or on your bike, in an hour.
But spectacular outdoor recreation and convenience aren’t Park City’s only claims to fame. Every January, the high-profile Sundance Film Festival draws the Hollywood elite, who—to the delight of star-gazers—frequent the local shops, restaurants and clubs located up and down the area’s historic Main Street.
On that street, and throughout the city, are remnants of the city’s illustrious pre-Hollywood past: more than 64 buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They date back to the 1860s, when the surrounding mountains generated $400 million in silver, a lode that created 23 millionaires (including newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst).
The town’s enticing mix of past and present is further enhanced by its sustainability efforts. Park City has protected more than 7,000 acres of open space, and its free bus system, which transports 2 million riders annually, is fueled by biodiesel. Additionally, all new and remodeled city buildings are required to meet LEED standards and score at least 75 on the Energy Star rating scale.
Added to Park City’s “stardom” and its convenient locale are full-service meeting venues and many value seasons. “We make it easy for groups to plan events and meetings at our mountain resort destination,” says Vicki Gaebe, meeting and convention marketing manager for the Park City Chamber/Convention & Visitors Bureau (parkcityinfo.com).
Major Meeting Venues
With 4,000 hotel rooms, more than 125,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space and three world-class ski resorts—Deer Valley Resort, Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort—Park City can host a variety of meetings.
The largest, Deer Valley Resort encompasses several top-notch meeting properties, including the Montage Deer Valley, which opened last December. The 154-room, 66-suite hotel features 17,000 sq. ft. of indoor event space, as well as 31,000 sq. ft. of outdoor space. Among its attractions are ski-in, ski-out access, the 35,000-square-foot Spa Montage and activities such as falconry, archery, and culinary and wine classes that groups can take advantage of between meetings.
“[Montage] complements our existing inventory very well, and provides professional meeting planners with more great options to choose from for their next meeting,” says Tonya Sweeten, meeting and convention sales manager for the Park City Chamber/Bureau.
The nearby Five-Star, Five-Diamond Stein Eriksen Lodge (host of The Smart Meeting last summer) features 112 guest rooms and 68 suites; its meeting facilities include a 4,004-square-foot ballroom that can host up to 440 guests. The Chateaux at Silver Lake, located in Deer Valley’s mid-mountain Silver Lake Village, is another option, with 8,326 sq. ft. of meeting space and elegant condominium-style rooms designed with Old World French decor.
The Canyons Resort offers more than 19,000 sq. ft. of meeting space among its four lodging properties. The Four-Diamond, ski-in, ski-out Canyons Grand Summit Hotel offers 348 guest accommodations and a 15,000-square-foot conference center. Formerly The Dakota Mountain Lodge, the Waldorf Astoria Park City, which debuted in July 2009, features 175 guest rooms and several meeting rooms, such as the 1,134-square-foot Spruce Main Dining Room.
The St. Regis Deer Valley, located in Park City’s private Deer Crest community, features 181 guest rooms, 7,657 sq. ft. of meeting space, the 14,000-square-foot Remede Spa and numerous restaurants, all of which are overseen by celebrity chef Jean George Vongerichten.
In the heart of downtown, Hotel Park City has 100 suites and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 200 guests reception-style, among other options. (The only Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Utah is located on-site.) The Park City Marriott is another spot for planners to consider, with its 191 guest rooms, eight spacious suites and 10,000 sq. ft. of event space.
If you’re considering Park City for an upcoming event, you may be surprised about the value the destination offers. The Chamber’s Meeting and Convention Department recently launched the Site Inspection Reimbursement Program, which reimburses qualified meeting planners for their airline costs if they do a site visit and then book an event at one of the meeting properties.
It’s deals like this that appeal to Vicki Glass, director of meetings and membership for The National Association of Development Organizations in Washington, D.C. Glass planned a meeting in Park City last summer, and is currently planning the association’s board meeting to be held there again in summer 2012. “I’m excited [about Park City] because it’s a great value,” she says. “Some other resorts have sky-high prices, and that includes sky-high F&B prices. [Compared to] Washington D.C., the F&B is so inexpensive there.”
Unique Venues & Activities
Located in the spectacular Wasatch Mountains, Park City offers all the popular alpine activities—from skiing to hiking to mountain biking—but with Olympic-worthy stature. The Utah Olympic Park is a great way for groups to experience these kinds of offerings, whether planners want a space for an event or to host some team-building fun. The 3,900-square-foot Day Lodge overlooks the park’s free-style pool, where groups can watch the Flying Aces All Stars perform in summer, or attendees can try out their own athletic prowess on The Comet bobsled, which hurtles down a chute at 70 mph. Other activities to include might be an alpine slide or zipline, or a visit to the Alf Engen Ski Museum and 2002 Games exhibit.
Looking for competition at a bit slower pace? Jupiter Bowl is the answer. The bowling alley, where Sundance hosted an event, mimics the feel of a nightclub by combining hip decor and vibrant, brightly colored lighting to accent its 16 bowling lanes, billiards, video games and Wii stations. Planners can host meetings with 20–40 people in the alley’s private club and semi-private lounge, or they can buy out the whole venue, which can accommodate groups of up to 400 attendees.
During the summer, the mountains create soothing-to-the-ear acoustics ideal for outdoor concerts and music festivals. Music abounds at venues such as the Forum at The Canyons Resort and the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater at Deer Valley Resort. Deer Valley also hosts free Wednesday night concerts under the stars that spotlight the talents of local musicians.
Park City also offers visiting groups world-class cuisine and spirits. High West Distillery and Saloon, which dates back to the 1870s, was Utah’s first distillery. Perfect for whiskey and vodka enthusiasts alike, it is also the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world. It can host groups of 10–175, and Executive Chef James Dumas can customize an a la carte menu to suit your attendees’ appetites. His Western fare, especially the Rolling Hills Ranch bison rib-eye steak served with a silver whiskey porcini sauce, complements the restaurant’s various whiskeys and vodkas well.
The Viking Yurt at Park City Mountain Resort is ideal for smaller groups of 32–40. Situated at an elevation of 9,500 feet, this fine-dining experience is so remote that all the food has to be brought to the restaurant by snowmobile. Guests can only get to the domed, tent-like structure by sled, and to cope with chilly rides, the staff suggests downing shots of Aquavit or Jaegermeister served from an antique ski.
Attendees can also ride the Red Pine Gondola up to Canyons Resort’s 4,000-square-foot Red Pine Lodge, where they can meet and eat amid the Wasatch Mountains. This rustic lodge offers gourmet pizzas, grilled entrees and a carving station, as well as various local and domestic beers from the Red Pine Draft House.
With the Wasatch Range as its backdrop, Park City is a breathtaking destination all year round. And with its star-studded offerings, convenient location and reasonable prices, it’s a place any meeting planner will want to host their own red carpet-worthy event.
Park City is a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport, where more than 800 flights are scheduled daily.