Ziptour at Sundance Mountain Resort, Provo

The Beehive State buzzes with meetings possibilities

It is appropriate that Utah is nicknamed the Beehive State, because the beehive symbolizes industriousness, and hard-working Utah residents pride themselves on getting things done. This applies to the state’s many business industries, including the vibrant meetings industry.

In addition to having excellent facilities and a responsive hospitality sector, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Park City and Provo are interesting cities that boast exciting nightlife and many cultural amenities. Unique team-building opportunities can be found in the diverse landscapes.

When meetings conclude, this multifaceted state has a surprising number of things for attendees to see and experience. They often take place against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty that includes Great Salt Lake, the majestic Wasatch Mountain Range and the stark yet striking formations carved by nature that visitors marvel over in Utah’s five awe-inspiring national parks.

Although Utah is a place where the Old West lives on in historic mining and ghost towns, it is also increasingly hip and contemporary, attracting high-tech events such as the first annual Thin Air Innovation Festival in Park City last month. Indeed, the Beehive State is abuzz with activity.

This buzz is occurring in its cities and towns, where proud and dedicated citizens are cherishing the old while embracing the new. It is exciting to see young and innovative entrepreneurs choose Utah as the destination to start their new tech ventures. They are discovering a surprising can-do spirit and a state very much focused on the future.

Salt Lake City: Nothing Staid About It!

Attractions-City Creek CenterShopping at City Creek Center, Salt Lake City

For two weeks in winter 2002, the whole world was watching this city of 200,000 residents. Salt Lake City’s staid and conservative image changed forever during the Winter Olympics festivities, and city leaders crafted a vision for the next 50 years. The first step was the redevelopment of 2.5 city blocks downtown. Today that project, City Creek, is a $2 billion mixed-use development with retail, residential and office space.

Over the past three years, nearly 50 new restaurants and bars have opened downtown. This fall the 2,500-seat Eccles Theater will open, bringing world-class stage and musical performances. It will further bolster Salt Lake City’s position as a leader in the arts—it is one of the few cities in America boasting professional symphony, opera and ballet companies.

Historical fact: The Ute and Shoshoni tribes were probably the first inhabitants of this region. In 1847, Brigham Young led 148 Mormons to Great Salt Lake and uttered his famous saying, “This is the right place.” Within days, the new settlers were planting crops and building houses, naming their town Great Salt Lake City.

Their settlement is now the worldwide headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet the population of Salt Lake City is actually quite diverse. Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, completed in nearby Ogden in 1869, brought in thousands of immigrant workers, as did the discovery of silver in the Wasatch Mountains. In fact, Salt Lake City has always been a patchwork quilt of ethnicities and religions.

Where to meet: Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center, aka Salt Palace, was built in 1969 and has undergone several major renovations. Today it is a modern facility with 515,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space and 164,000 sq. ft. for meetings.

The AAA Five Diamond Grand America Hotel boasts 775 guest rooms and 75,000 sq. ft. of Old World opulence downtown, while Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel offers 362 guest rooms and 33,000 sq. ft. of meeting space near Salt Palace.

Red Butte GardenRed Butte Garden, Salt Lake City

Red Butte Garden is the largest botanical-research garden in the Intermountain West, and event spaces there accommodate up to 3,000. Natural History Museum of Utah has event spaces ranging in capacity from 72 to 1,500.

Plenty to do: Salt Lake City has a vibrant downtown, with hundreds of bars (including a dozen breweries and six distilleries) and 1,700 restaurants that are interspersed with historic spots such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Temple Square.

Natural History Museum of UtahNatural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City

The Family History Library offers the largest genealogical repository in the world, and can be explored without charge. Local colleges such as University of Utah afford plenty of sports and cultural opportunities.

Nearby are six national parks (five in Utah) and dozens of national monuments and state parks. There are four notable four-season resorts in Salt Lake County and seven more close by.

“As Utah’s capital city, Salt Lake is unique in so many ways. Not only is it the most accessible meeting destination in the Rocky Mountains—our international airport is just 7 miles from downtown via car or TRAX light rail—but downtown itself offers excellent dining, nightlife, cultural arts and all the amenities meeting attendees expect. And the Wasatch Mountains provide an incredible variety of recreational and team-building opportunities.”
–Scott Beck, president and CEO of Visit Salt Lake

Ogden: A Sweet Little Surprise

25th-St-Photo-Ogden25th Street, Ogden

Ogden (population 85,000) boasts vigorous cultural and culinary scenes, and a colorful history. It’s a city with fierce civic pride, and its Historic 25th Street was ranked by the American Planning Association as One of the Best Streets in America.

Historical fact: Don’t let its traditional Mormon roots fool you. Ogden was once a wild frontier town with larger-than-life characters who often settled disputes with six-shooters. When the first train on the Transcontinental Railroad steamed into Ogden March 8, 1869, the whole town came out to welcome it. However, the city’s new status as a railroad hub brought in a parade of outsiders, and the streets became a cacophony of gambling, prostitution, narcotics, robbery and even murder. Just how wild was Ogden? Well, Al Capone supposedly said that it was even too wild for him.

Where to meet: Ogden Union Station was built in 1924. This beautiful building houses Utah State Railroad Museum, John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Browning Kimball Car Museum, two art galleries, a gift shop, a model-train shop, a restaurant and 22,264 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Ogden is about 8,000 miles from Cairo, but not far from Peery’s Egyptian Theater, a fully restored 800-seat facility built in 1924 in classic Egyptian style, and now part of the 70,000-square-foot David Eccles Conference Center. Speaking of history, Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel was built in 1927; it has 99 guest suites and 8,457 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Plenty to do: If the buildings along Historic 25th Street could talk, they would have some wild stories to tell. Now, however, they’re filled with atmospheric restaurants, bars, art galleries and yoga studios.

Kayak ParkKayak Park, Ogden

Ogden offers plenty of outdoor activities. Nordic Valley, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin (an Olympic site) ski resorts are nearby. Downtown, the convergence of the Ogden and Weber rivers has created two kayak parks. With nearly 300 miles of trails available, attendees can hike, bike, mountain bike, trail-run and snowshoe. There are three lakes in the city, and 170,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service property right outside of it. Indoors, the Salomon Center offers team-building opportunities such as a skydiving wind tunnel, indoor surfing, a climbing wall, an arcade and a bowling alley.

“The Ogden area is a vibrant community…and people here are really passionate about their town. Ogden offers nearly 100 independent restaurants, numerous cultural opportunities and celebrations, and breathtaking scenery, all of which provide a unique experience for meeting attendees. Here, the great outdoors is just outside your door. And Historic 25th Street is a block from our conference center and downtown meeting hotels.”
–Sara Toliver, president and CEO of Visit Ogden

Park City: Greatest Snow on Earth

Utah Olympic ParkUtah Olympic Park, Park City

Its prominent role in the 2002 Olympics elevated Park City as a preeminent ski resort. That event instigated the creation of Utah Olympic Park, transforming the city into a year-round resort. Anchored by the restaurants, shops and nightspots in the Historic District around Main Street, Park City now plays host to sophisticated international travelers who appreciate its rustic luxury.

Historical fact: The discovery of silver in the region in the late-1860s transformed a dusty frontier town into an instant city, with would-be millionaires angling for a stake. At the height of this Silver Rush, the mountains surrounding Park City yielded $400 million in silver and 23 new millionaires. During the Depression, however, silver prices bottomed out. But local folks started mining another kind of treasure. Park City eventually trademarked the term “The Greatest Snow on Earth.”

Sixty-four buildings there are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and more than 1,200 miles of old mining tunnels surround town. Those halcyon days come alive at the newly renovated Park City Museum.

Grand Summit Hotel_PoolGrand Summit Hotel at Canyons Village, Park City

Where to meet: Many of the 350 sleeping rooms at the ski-in, ski-out, AAA Four Diamond Grand Summit Hotel at Canyons Village have fireplaces or full kitchens. The property has 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection, a Marriott property, features 100 suites and 22,235 sq. ft. of meeting space; Westgate Park City Resort & Spa has 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 488 guest rooms; Waldorf Astoria Park City has 175 guest rooms and 9,259 sq. ft. of meeting space; and Montage Deer Valley boasts 220 guest rooms, 55,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and amenities that include a bowling alley. For a luxurious alpine experience, Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley features 180 guest rooms and 21,213 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Switzerland meets the American West at Zermatt Utah, 18 miles south of Park City in Midway. The magnificent AAA Four Diamond property features 325 guest rooms and 65,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibition space.

Plenty to do: Park City’s two year-round resorts, Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, offer myriad recreational options. Fly-fishing takes place virtually all year long. Hot-air ballooning is also popular, offering spectacular views of the Wasatch Range and very likely the freshest air you’ve ever breathed. Summer is festival season, with many special events.

“Not only is Park City one of the most accessible mountain meeting destinations in the U.S., but it’s also an authentic mountain town with a colorful history. A short ride from Salt Lake City International Airport will bring you to a wide variety of meeting facilities, augmented by pre- and post-meeting activities including golf, fly-fishing, biking, bobsled rides, horseback riding, hiking, hot-air ballooning, concerts, art festivals and gallery strolls.”
–Bill Malone, president and CEO of Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau

Provo/Utah Valley: Miracle on Silicon Slopes

Utah Valley Convention CenterBallroom in Utah Valley Convention Center, Provo

You probably wouldn’t associate Utah Valley with technology, yet it’s become one of America’s hottest new technology areas. In fact, it’s now called Silicon Slopes. Forty-five miles south of Salt Lake City, Utah Valley is buzzing with tech start-ups. USA Today recently did a feature on the migration of tech talent and start-ups to Utah, and Forbes recently ranked Provo No. 1 on its list of Best Places for Business & Careers. The reasonable prices and growing infrastructure are key reasons why meeting groups are heading here.

Historical fact: An ancient lake called Bonneville once covered Utah Valley, providing sustenance for the prehistoric peoples who wandered there, and the Native tribes succeeding them. Spanish monks arrived during the American Revolution. In the early-1800s fur trappers came, including a French-Canadian named Etienne Provost, after whom Provo is named. Mormon settlers arrived later. The area now has 551,891 residents.

Where to meet: Utah Valley Convention Center is only four years old. Every facet of its operation is green, and with 83,578 sq. ft. of conference space, it’s ideally sized for many meetings.

Provo MarriottGuest room at Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

Great meeting hotels include Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, with 330 guest rooms and 28,000 sq. ft., and Sundance Mountain Resort, founded by actor Robert Redford, which has 95 guest rooms, 10 mountain homes and 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space. Among the unique offsite venues is Wadley Historic Farm, where attendees can wander 20 acres of gardens and vineyards, and meet in The Barn or the Old Railroad Building.

Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving PointTulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point, Lehi

Plenty to do: At Thanksgiving Point, in the town of Lehi, your attendees can roam through 55 acres of gardens and the Museum of Ancient Life, and enjoy Mammoth Screen 3D Theater, Harvest Restaurant, the Emporium and an 18-hole golf course.

Museum of Ancient LifeMuseum of Ancient Life, Lehi

Sundance Mountain Resort is a four-season recreational center that has just added a new Ziptour. Along the lower Provo River, you’ll find some of the best fly-fishing in the state. Bridal Veil Falls is a cascade of water thundering down 600-foot cliffs (and a great place for a group picnic). Brigham Young University offers a variety of interesting museums and sporting events.

“Provo is a postcard city set at the base of a scenic mountain range with countless outdoor opportunities, a booming downtown and a vibrant music scene. Over 50 locally owned restaurants and bars, along with a collection of unique shops and entertainment venues, fill historic buildings surrounding our new, LEED certified convention center. And meeting planners are telling us that Utah Valley is the perfect combination of mountain modern and historic charm.”
–Lee Adamson, director of sales for Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau

5 Spectacular National Parks

Utah national parks

Utah ranks third among the states in its number of national parks, with five (Alaska and California each have eight). But many believe Utah is second to none when it comes to spectacular national parks. Here’s why:

Arches National Park: This park is accessible from the southeastern town of Moab. Take the 40-mile scenic drive through a fantasyland of strange shapes and textures, molded into gargoyles, towers, hoodoos (tall, skinny rock spires shooting up from basins or gorges), impossibly balanced boulders and, of course arches. Keep an eye out for the color contrasts, as the blue skies seem to pierce holes in the golden rock formations.

Bryce Canyon National Park: (pictured) Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce can list alpine among its varied eco-systems, because it’s at an altitude of 8,000 to 9,000 feet. As a result, you’ll find animal and plant life there, as well as geometric formations you won’t find at other Utah parks. In fact, many groups of hoodoos seem to have been carved into red-rock amphitheaters. Some believe the color saturation is deeper here than at other Utah parks, as well.

Canyonlands National Park: Located in southeastern Utah near Moab, Canyonlands stretches across 527 square miles of gorges, canyons, buttes, mesas and spires. It contains what could amount to thousands of square miles of slick rock, and the tiny microsystems and habitats that flourish in it. This park is an artists’ palette that only nature could create. The “canvas” changes almost by the minute as the sun makes its way across the sky. Moab Adventure Center can take your group on tours of Canyonlands or Arches national parks—on foot, by bus, on rafts and even in the air.

Capitol Reef National Park: With broad vistas stretching for miles, no sign of human life (or automobiles), stark geometric forms shooting straight up, rock ridges flowing gently and rocks that somehow form swirls, Capitol Reef appears almost out of a science fiction movie about life on another planet. It’s less visited than the more-famous parks in the state, which means it sometimes feels as if you have it all to yourself.

Zion National Park: It has 147,000 acres of high plateaus, deep canyons and stark formations. One of the best ways to experience it is by stepping into the Virgin River and looking up; you’ll see the colorfully delineated strata and sediment that came from millions of years of wind and rain. Zion is known for the immense walls of red and white Navajo sandstone that shoot 2,000 feet up. Take a guided interpretive walk or challenge yourself to high-adventure in narrow slot canyons.

Discover Davis County

Davis County, located just minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), is a prime destination for organizers due to its abundance of affordable event space. Davis Conference Center in Layton has more than 70,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space. A Hilton Garden Inn is attached to the center, with eight other nationally branded hotels within walking distance. There are more than 60 restaurants in the hotel district.

Legacy Events Center in Farmington is just 15 minutes north of Salt Lake City. It boasts breathtaking mountain views and 38,400 sq. ft. of indoor floor space, in addition to more than four acres of groomed outdoor event space.

When meetings conclude, there is plenty for attendees to do in Davis County. Lagoon, located in Farmington, is America’s largest family-owned amusement park, with more than 55 rides and attractions. Group discounts are available.

Davis County repeatedly wins acclaim as a top birding and wildlife-viewing destination, thanks to the Great Salt Lake wetlands. Nature lovers can also swim, hike, bike or horseback ride in the 28,000-acre Antelope Island State Park, which houses a herd of more than 500 free-roaming bison.

Smart Dispatch

Utah Olympic Park 1

Utah Olympic Park: Where Wannabe Olympians Test Their Mettle

Although it’s been almost 14 years since Park City, Utah, hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics, the memory of that seminal event is still strong in the beautiful mountain town. Sports fans can relive the experience at Utah Olympic Park, which boasts a fantastic collection of photographs and memorabilia from the global games, including actual gold medals.

Rather than destroy the infrastructure after the games concluded, the nonprofit Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation elected to preserve the 389-acre park as an official Olympics training center. Today, athletes from around the world come to the facility to perfect their Nordic ski jumping, and bobsled, skeleton and luge racing skills. But what is really exciting is that the historic park is also open to the general public, who can test their mettle on the actual tracks used by Olympians. The less adventurous can “go for the gold” via virtual video games that simulate the experiences.

Planners can use Utah Olympic Park year-round for meetings, receptions and offsite team-building activities. For an unforgettable experience, gather your group at the K120 Start House, located at the top of the Nordic Ski Jump. Brave attendees can peer down and experience the same stomach-dropping view that professional jumpers see before liftoff.

While attendees can’t try the K120 Jump, they can take part in many athletic challenges. Extreme thrill-seekers can battle G-Force on the Comet bobsled, which twists and turns at speeds of up to 70 mph. Other exhilarating options include alpine skiing and jumping, ziplines, and the Canyon and Summit courses, which test strength, agility, balance and coordination. The terrifying 65-foot-tall Drop Tower will challenge the mental fortitude of your toughest attendees.

Armchair adventurers can enjoy a freestyle show featuring the Flying Ace All-Stars, professional athletes who soar high and perform aerial tricks. In the winter they do it on snow-covered slopes; in the summer they race down slick ramps and plunge into a gigantic pool. Planners can arrange private shows, as well as motivational talks and meet-and-greets with former Olympians. Daily guided tours are offered year-round, and offerings can be customized. Whatever you choose, Utah Olympic Park is a gold medal winner.

−Susan Jacobs

Major Meeting Venues


Ben Lomond Suites Historic HotelBen-Lomond-ExteriorConstructed in 1927; 99 guest suites; 8,457 sq. ft. of meeting space; multi award-winner; two restaurants, including an Irish pub; near attractions.

Courtyard by Marriott
Near Weber State University and Ogden Eccles Conference Center; 193 guest rooms; 12,532 sq. ft. of meeting space; fitness center; pool; Bistro restaurant; onsite convenience store; free Wi-Fi.

David Eccles Conference Center & Peery’s Egyptian Theater
Modern brick conference center; large windows; spectacular views; 70,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; Peery’s Egyptian Theater, built in 1924, seats 800.

Hilton Garden Inn Ogden
Downtown hotel with indoor pool, hot tub and fitness center; 120 guest rooms; 3,249 sq. ft. of meeting space; complimentary Wi-Fi; 24-hour business center; Great American Grill.

Ogden Union Station
Home to Utah State Railroad Museum, John M. Browning Firearms Museum, Browning Kimball Car Museum; art galleries; 22,264 sq. ft. of event space.

Park City

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City
Modern 182-room hotel 3 miles from Deer Valley ski area; 11,837 sq. ft. of versatile function space includes ballroom and outdoor courtyard; restaurant, sports bar with terrace; free Wi-Fi.

Grand Summit Hotel at Canyons Village
350 guest rooms, many with balconies, fireplaces, hot tubs and kitchens; 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; complimentary Wi-Fi; outdoor pool; spa.

Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection
AAA Four Diamond property alongside ski slopes and an 18-hole golf course; 100 guest rooms; 22,235 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Montage Deer Valley
Lavish and refined resort; 220 guest rooms; 55,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; five dining options; world-class spa; bowling alley; tubing.

Newpark Resort A Destination Hotel
Adjacent to 1,200-acre Swaner Nature Preserve; 124 guest rooms; 7,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.

Park City Marriott
Near Main Street and skiing; 199 guest rooms, 9,803 sq. ft. of meeting space; fitness center; free Wi-Fi.

Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley
Award-winning ski-in, ski-out property exudes alpine luxury; 180 guest rooms; 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; gourmet dining.

Waldorf Astoria Park City
Contemporary, elegant Forbes Four Star hotel; 182 guest rooms, 9,259 sq. ft. of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space; spa; Powder Restaurant.

Westgate Park City Resort & Spa
AAA Four Diamond ski-in, ski-out resort; 488 guest rooms, 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; Edge Steakhouse; Utah’s largest indoor/outdoor pool.

Provo/Utah Valley

Hyatt Place Salt Lake City/Lehi
Upscale hotel; free Wi-Fi and breakfast; 131 guest rooms; 3,000 sq. ft. of customizable meeting space; 24-hour fitness center.

Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
Steps from Utah Valley Convention Center; 330 guest rooms; 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including Garden Patio; fitness center; pool; Slate Restaurant.

Sundance Mountain ResortSundance Mountain ResortFounded by actor Robert Redford; 95 guest rooms, 10 mountain homes; 12,000 sq. ft. of indoor meeting space; 5,000 outdoor acres; six dining options.

Utah Valley Convention Center
LEED Silver certified building, opened in 2012; rooftop garden offers breathtaking views of Wasatch Range; 83,578 sq. ft. of flexible space.

Wadley Historic Farm
A slice of old, authentic Utah; 20 acres of lush gardens, orchards and vineyards; The Barn holds 100 for dinner, 350 for receptions; Railroad Building accommodates 40 for dinner and 100 for receptions.

Salt Lake City

Grand America Hotel
Grand-America-outdoor-pool-1AAA Five Diamond property; 10 minutes from airport; 775 guest rooms; 75,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; Grand Spa; elegant afternoon tea.

Hilton Salt Lake City Center
Downtown location convenient to convention center; 499 guest rooms; 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space; fitness room; business center; 19 breakout rooms.

Little America Hotel
Longtime downtown landmark; 850 guest rooms; 25,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; fitness center; indoor/outdoor pool; retail shops.

Salt Lake Marriott City Center
AAA Four Diamond hotel downtown; 342 guest rooms; 22,624 sq. ft. of meeting space; fitness center; indoor pool; La Bella Piastra restaurant.

Salt Palace Convention Center
Renovated state-of-the-art facility; 679,000 sq. ft. of meeting and exhibition space; has one of America’s largest solar rooftops.

Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel
Convenient to convention center; 362 guest rooms; 33,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space; fitness center; free local shuttle service; complimentary Wi-Fi.

Renovation included $35 million in capital improvements, including newly opened Summit mountaintop event space; 830 guest rooms; 98,627 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space; 17 eateries; The Cliff Spa.

The Leonardo at Library Square
Museum offers 12 meeting rooms; theater seats 194; can host receptions for up to 500.