Hosting the Winter Olympics in 2002 meant building venues, including the Utah Olympic Park in Park City for sliding and jumping events. Visitors now get to feel those same thrills.
The Caprese burger. (California Burger Co./Facebook)
Calling all foodies: The burgers in ski and snowboard country are now worthy of your attention.
Heavy rain and snow will hit places like Mad River in Ohio Friday. (Mad River Mountain/Facebook)
The East gets much warmer with a very heavy wintry mix, while the Midwest sees heavy snow, and the West stays in a favorable pattern too.
With both indoor and outdoor hot tubs, everyone can relax and unwind after a hard day on the slopes. (Airbnb)
A perusal of Airbnb shows the concept of direct online rentals has caught on in ski towns nationwide. Airbnb rentals are popular for the savings and convenience they can afford and in some places supplement limited mountain or town accommodations.
The whiskey is lined up in Park City. (High West/Facebook)
Catching a cocktail after a long day on the slopes has been a winter tradition since the beginning and, recently, the distillers are making the good stuff right at the resorts.
Sun Valley set to go with early discounts. (Sun Valley/Facebook)
Once the snow begins to fly, skiers and riders make plans to get up into the hills as soon as possible – and stay there as long as possible. As a result, many Rocky Mountain resorts lay out early season ticket and lodging deals.
Vail Resorts is working to keep Northstar snowy. (Vail Resorts/Facebook)
Vail Resorts will aggressively pursue a comprehensive sustainability commitment, called “Epic Promise for a Zero Footprint.” This undertaking commits to zero net emissions by 2030, zero waste to landfill by 2030 and zero net operating impact to forests and habitat.
This 10,000 Sq.Ft. home located in the Snow Top neighborhood in Deer Valley is listed at $5.8 million. (Summit Sotheby's International Realty)
For those thinking of purchasing a vacation home in ski country, summer is a good time to start looking.
Virtual Reality is fast-becoming an important player in the world of creative filmmaking. (Sundance Film Festival/Facebook)
It’s begun. The Sundance storm nearly rivals the actual Snowmaggedon that this ski hamlet has felt for the past month and continues to experience. Park City is bracing themselves- $100 parking lots and all- for the flood of People in Black. We are a mere day away from the extravagant parties and film premieres, the branding and “activations”.
Egyptian Theatre Marquee. (Sundance Institute/Jill Oreschel)
My parents called tonight. They're coming to Sundance. I choked a bit. I've lived in Park City since 1990 and this is a first. "Are you sure?" I queried. "Sundance is a zoo. There's no parking, all of the restaurants are booked, it's even more expensive around here than normal, the tickets are probably sold out…" Was there a Beginners Guide To Sundance out there anywhere?
"Your father and I want to see snow and Europe's too far," said Mom. "Plus, I've always wanted to stay at the St. Regis." My folks are in their 80s. Back in the day, our vacations revolved around skiing but they retired the sticks decades ago. Still, you can't help but miss the mountains in winter when you've spent almost your whole life playing in them.
I considered this new information. Parents who don't ski but love film, snow and mountains. Sundance might just be the perfect vacation. When they've visited Park City in the past they've been bored. This is a town for adventure junkies. Once you've done the outlet mall, gotten a massage and fed on the "fine dining" there's not much else for retired skiers around here.
I started my research. How then do I advise my parents, your average tourists, to make the most out of their time at Sundance? Looks like I was going to have to devise my own Beginners Guide To Sundance.
The Beginners Guide To Sundance Starts With Lodging
You won't have a place to stay if you don't have a place to stay. In other words, book your lodging early and don't be picky. Everything in Park City gets gobbled up the closer you get to those last 10 days in January. My parents aren't into crashing in a three-bedroom place with four other people so they got a room at the St Regis with timeshare points that could have bought them a month in Hawaii. You can get a place in Salt Lake City for much less but the highway commute in January can be a nightmare if it dumps. You don't want to be stuck in a whiteout on I-80 while your movie plays. BTW, the major benefit of having a condo over a hotel room is the ability to cook, so you don’t have to eat out for every meal, saving some money.
The Beginners Guide To Sundance Transportation
No, Mom, you do not need a car. Split a cab, call Uber, book a shuttle. You DO NOT want a rental car in Park City during Sundance. The city shuts down Main Street to traffic, there's zero parking available unless you want to pay $50 for lots that are normally free, and the congestion is ridiculous.
I hitched a ride from Park Avenue to the top of Main (two miles tops) last year and it took over an hour. The bright side was I got to spend that time chatting with a fascinating, charmingly abrasive, post production supervisor from New York who worked on several of my favorite films.
Park City brings in extra buses to handle the transportation. The free system runs like clockwork and rivals any you would find in a large metropolis. They run late into the night so you don't need to worry about being stranded and the cast of characters on those buses- from local ski bums to Netflix execs- are priceless.
The Beginners Guide To Sundance Ticketing
Get a Sundance ticket package if you can afford one. My parents will see as many movies as they can but if you don't plan ahead individual tickets (which go on sale Jan. 17 for non-locals) sell out fast and you wind up standing in a cold waitlist line hoping someone doesn't show.
There is a new ewaitlist system that eliminates standing in line TWICE to MAYBE get in but you'll still have to be at the theater at least 30 minutes prior to showtime. You'll also need to be somewhere with a strong signal. The waitlist opens one hour prior to the screening and if you get a number higher than 50 your chances of actually getting in are slim to none. You can often buy tickets off scalpers standing in front of the theater. Patrons wind up with extra tickets because friends or clients couldn't make it in time or they decided to go to a party instead. I've gotten many a free ticket this way.
The Festival packages are pricey for non-locals ($650) but in addition to 10 tickets ($250 value), they include Festival credentials for two peeps.
You can only plant your butt in a dark theater for so long. The pass gets you into the rocking ASCAP music café, the Cinema Café, the Filmmakers Lodge, and several other "credential-only" venues that host VIP events like cocktail receptions and filmmaker panel discussions. You also get a ticket to the opening night party, but it's only a bonus if you like blaring dance music and drunk 20-somethings.
The Beginners Guide To Sundance Dining
"We want to go to the restaurants and experience the scene," my mom added. So does everyone else, Mom. If you get to Park City without reservations you will be ordering Domino's and Davanza's. Start booking the minute you know you're coming. Three nights in town equals three reservations.
Private parties book out most of the restaurants. Still, the best spots to celeb spot if you can get in are the Riverhorse Café, Chimayo, Zoom, Yuki Yama and Prime Steakhouse. I recommended St Regis' J&G Grill to my folks for the first Saturday night of the Fest to avoid the mayhem of Main. You can also eat someplace off Main that doesn't take reservations – like Sammy's Bistro, El Chubasco, The Blind Dog and our newest yummy Ganesh Indian Cuisine. If you just want something to eat and you want out of town anyway, locals head to Kimball Junction where you have a ton of options from Five Guys to Ghidotti's.
That's it for this first leg of our journey. Stay tuned for my mom's next phone call.