‘Sundance Resort is and always will be a dream. What you see, smell, taste and feel here is a dream being carefully nurtured. It’s a place of extraordinary beauty devoted to people. What we offer in the form of art and culture, spirit and service is homegrown and available to all’. – Robert Redford
Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort resort lies surrounded by magnificent forest on the eastern slopes of Mount Timpanagos, which soars to 12,000 ft. The area was once a notorious hunting ground for the Ute Indians. Redford began his love affair with Utah back in 1961 when he bought a two-acre piece of land for $500, and built a house, literally by hand. Naturally, over time, the land and house became bigger, and Redford started to buy up most of the surrounding area to save it from “out of control development”. Consequently, thanks to his vision, 25,000 acres of land surrounding Sundance is now protected.
He first conceived of building a “community for the arts” back in 1969. What Redford refers to as his “experiment in environmental stewardship and artistic expression” now comprises an institute for independent film and the arts, a resort where you can ski in winter and ride in summer, a television channel, gift shop, deli, bar, restaurants, screening room, meeting spaces including the iconic Rehearsal Hall, the Redford Conference Centre, and of course, an annual film festival.
This is our second visit to the Sundance Resort which also coincided with the Sundance Film Festival, but even in the midst of one of the busiest independent film festivals in the world, Sundance remained a quiet, peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle.
We stayed in an idyllic Sundance Resort Sundance Suite; an elegant spacious cabin tucked away in the woods, and a convenient five minute stroll from the ski base. Each one is totally unique in rustic design. Beautiful fireplaces, Native American influences, rough-hewn wood and organic toiletries create a natural soothing environment. All the practicalities have been taken care of, including complimentary WiFi. You can also choose from a Standard, Studio, Mountain Suite, Mountain Loft or a Mountain Home, all placed in a tranquil setting, surrounded by pine trees and aspen groves on the edge of an alpine wilderness.
Dining options are plentiful at Sundance with an abundance of fresh ingredients and local produce on offer, integrating the earth-to-table philosophy at all the dining venues.
The Foundry Grill pays homage to the frontier settlers, farmers and miners who settled the land, and around the room, antique farming tools are displayed on the walls. The hearty, seasonal flavor is achieved through cooking techniques centered around the open kitchen. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner here, as well as the legendary and utterly delicious Sunday Brunch.
A very pretty looking breakfast at the Foundry Grill!
The Tree Room (our personal favourite) is the Sundance Resort’s award-winning Forbes Four-Star restaurant specialising in fresh, seasonal mountain cuisine, lit by romantic candlelight centred around a real tree. The restaurant is decorated with stunning examples of American Native art from Robert Redford’s own personal collection, including a selection of his antique kachina dolls.
Another wonderful place to kick back and relax is The Owl Bar. The bar in its entirety was moved personally by Robert Redford to Sundance Resort from Thermopolis, Wyoming. The restored 1890’s bar is the original Rosewood Bar (complete with original bullet holes!) once frequented by Butch Cassidy’s Hole-in-the-Wall Gang. Redford remembers dismantling it and taking it across to Sundance “piece by piece”.
There are nods to the film, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, dotted around, making it a very atmospheric place to enjoy a cocktrail or one of the speciality craft beers. There’s always a great choice of live music during the weekends. Don’t miss the Bluebird Cafe collaborations where you can experience a little bit of Nashville when visiting musicians come and play at Sundance.
The Sioux tribe call it a Hocoka; a sacred environment where the restorative powers of nature are summoned for healing the body and restoring the spirit. At Sundance Mountain Resort , they refer to it as simply the Spa. Cocooned in a peaceful setting, the only sounds to break the tranquillity are that of an occasional Native American flute and the soothing crackle of a log fire. Respecting the healing powers of nature, and the legacy of the canyon, the Spa’s empahasis is on helping the body restore and maintain balance through the change of seasons.
Healing herbs and botanicals that are indigenous to the region are carefully selected for treatments. We sampled the Gemstone Aromatherapy Energy Balance Massage, a deeply relaxing and energy-balancing massage/body treatment where imbalances are magically brought back into alignment. Organic aromas and four gemstones which have been energized along with herb infused oils, purify, soothe and naturally oxygenate tissues to support overall balance in body and mind.
Away from the Sundance Resort Spa, there are also complementary wellness offerings available for guests. You can start your day with a guided meditation every morning seven days per week. Yoga is also available for all levels (children of ten years and older may attend); a chance to invigorate and rejuvenate your body, mind and spirit in a dynamic and flowing practice.
There is also a chance to connect with Mother Nature and the spirit of Mount Timpanagos with a sacred nature walk. Your guide will lead you on a hike along the Stewart Falls Trail whilst inspiring you with Native American traditions and legends as you wander among the trees, streams and wildlife. Or you can try a Herbal Walk and discover the secrets of plant life, and learn about the benefits of wild herbs in the area. The latter two walks are seasonal and are for all levels and all ages.
If you’re a skier, the unspoilt Sundance area is a dream. For gentle slopes, try Maverick and Rays Run before graduating to the steeper blues and blacks off Amy’s Ridge. The difficulty gradually increases towards the Bearclaw Cabin, but it’s worth it for the view from the top: breathtaking Rocky panoramas as far as the eye can see.
The Nordic Center provides cross country rentals for all ages and abilities for both classic and skating techniques. Snowshoe and boot rentals are available for all ages providing for a great family outdoor experience, and these are 15km of daily groomed trails to explore. And for the real adrenalin junkies, the Sundance ZipTour is one of the most exciting and scenic zip tours in the world, boasting over 3,870 feet of riding.
If outdoor activities are not your thing, then there are daily workshops at the Sundance Mountain Resort Art Studio with live demonstrations by local artists; you can try your hand at pottery, photography, jewellery making, soap making, print making, journal making, painting or glassblowing.
Now in its 17th year, the wonderful Sundance Author Series strives to highlight authors whose books convey a meaningful message or tell a story that impacts the lives of others. Through the years the Resort has featured notable authors, including Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Eric Schlosser, Susan Cain, Jane Mayer, Jeff Flake, and Kathryn Stockett. Sundance invites writers from all walks of life to discuss a variety of issues in order to create a forum for ideas, inspiration and creativity.
Sundance Mountain Resort is totally unique in the fact that it’s a resort that can be enjoyed all year-round. Due to its spectacular location, it’s an equally stunning place to stay no matter what the season, and it brims with cultural and sporting activities during both the winter and the summer months. Equally, there is no pressure to engage in any activity; just being in tune with glorious nature is enough. There really is something for everyone here in this ancient magical canyon.
We’re always inspired by these words by Robert Redford which have been carved out in stone (see above pic); a gentle reminder of what Sundance truly represents.
‘This place in the mountains, amid nature’s casualness toward death and birth, is the perfect host for the inspiration of ideas: harsh at times, life threatening in its winters of destruction, but tender in attention to the details of every petal of every wildflower resurrected in the spring. Nature and creativity obey the same laws, to the same end: life’. Robert Redford
For further information please visit: Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort
For more about Sundance Film Festival please visit: www.sundance.org
For our curated recommendations for Travel, Art, Culture and Design books visit the CELLOPHANELAND* bookstore
All images by CELLOPHANELAND* and Sundance Resort
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Sundance Resort