Living in a Colorado ski town like I do, locals always seem to know about other great ski communities. Word seems to travel, and residents traverse back and forth for outdoor recreation or a new job in a location that provides a similar lifestyle. Park City and Deer Valley have always been on my radar, and I was fortunate to visit this September with five other journalists from around the country and enjoy several activities and venues that are ideal for corporate, nonprofit and association groups that are looking for something different.
Park City’s sweet spot remains winter, so if you are looking for better price points and more availability for lodging and venues, consider summer or fall gatherings. Plus, it opens up a window for using more outdoor venues such as Westgate Park City Resort & Spa’s new rooftop deck that offers beautiful views and holds up to 152 for dinner and 190s standing. This property, located at the base of Canyons Village of Park City Mountain, is one of the largest in the area with 10,000 square feet of function space, 388 condominium-style guest rooms, and all sorts of options for time outside the meeting room like a large indoor/outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, tasty restaurants, an arcade, and immediate access to skiing, hiking and biking trails.
I’m a huge fan of integrating local products and businesses into meetings and events, and the Westgate’s location worked well for a hike with two representatives from Utah-based Altra Footwear trying out Lone Peak 4 trail shoes, which was a nice alternative to low hikers. This is a fun idea for an incentive trip or any meeting where gifts and outdoor activities are part of the equation.
The wind didn’t allow us to go up in a hot air balloon as planned in tandem with the Autumn Aloft Festival, but we did get to experience the Candlestick portion of the event, which involved the hot air balloon pilots igniting up their gas burners for a cool light show on Park City’s Main Street. However, one of the neatest things about being on Main Street that night was taking part in a new Gin Experience offered by Alpine Distilling and held at their attractive new space on the lower level of 350 Brasserie. In tandem with a four-course meal and explanations from the restaurant’s chef, we learned about gin, did a tasting and crafted our own gin, which was distilled in small copper stills and sealed in a bottle so we could take it home.
Spirits weren’t the only things we tasted. Also very memorable was the Wine Cellar Experience with a sommelier at Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley. We did a blind tasting of four wines amongst a collection of more than 10,000 bottles of wine worth more than $1 million that was followed by a terrific dinner at the hotel’s Glitretind Restaurant.
There are plenty of attractions to consider, and our group completed the fun Mine Trap at Escape Room Park City that incorporates Park City’s mining history and wandered through the museum and watched ski jumpers at Utah Olympic Park hurling themselves into a large outdoor swimming pool. Although we didn’t have time to take part in all the activities at the park (things like bobsledding, tubing and zip lining), we did experience the Adventure Park at Park City Mountain, including the alpine slide and alpine coaster. Both are fun ways to zoom down the mountain and certainly would score points when families are along for the work trip.
Another activity that planners shouldn’t be scared to add on an itinerary is fly-fishing. Many people have seen the classic movie “A River Runs Through It” starring Brad Pitt, but how many get to experience the beauty of the sport? Park City Fly Fishing Guides successfully got our group of eight on the Provo River in waders and boots (even those who had never picked up a fly rod) and built up enough confidence in everyone to catch at least one trout. Every one of us! When in Rome (or in Park City in this case) do as the Romans do. Park Silly Sunday Market and any festival in a mountain town is a great chance to get know a community better and feel a part of it. Plus many times, it’s free fun, which in this case meant strolling the vendor booths and farmers’ market and enjoying live music. Plus there was a family that stationed themselves in a downtown park so people could cuddle their sweet bulldog puppies.
This is just a sampling of how your group can really experience great mountain communities like Park City and Deer Valley.