It seems like there are places that somehow get on a person’s travel radar over the years, and Sun Valley, Idaho, has been one of those destinations that I knew about but not a lot. In August, I had the chance to check out the results of a total renovation of the 94-room Sun Valley Lodge, built in 1936, including several of the five celebrity suites and the brand new, 20,000-square-foot spa and salon that was thoughtfully designed adjacent to the lodge.
Vail Resorts, Inc. is implementing one of the most ambitious capital plans in the history of the U.S. ski industry to connect and improve Utah’s Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort. The $50 million capital plan will create the largest single ski area in the United States with in excess of 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and upgraded infrastructure of both resorts. Examples of plans underway are the new Interconnect Gondola running from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons.
An upscale, comfort-camping experience is what Conestoga Ranch at Utah’s Bear Lake in Garden City is all about. Officially opened on July 1, the 18-acre resort can host up to 160 guests in eight high-end glamping tents with en suite bathrooms featuring hot showers and 16 custom- crafted conestogas, more commonly known as covered wagons. Resort ameni- ties include a main lodge with a restaurant and bar, game tent, bath house, Shake Shack and activities field.
It’s hard to beat a patio lunch on a sunny winter day or wrapping up with a little après ski on a favorite mountain patio. Just like beer somehow tastes even better after a round of golf in the mountains, the same can be said for suds or spirits after a full day of skiing or boarding (or being inside for meetings!). Vail Resorts, Inc. owns resorts around the Mountain West and recently shared its top decks from a handful of ski areas.
Vintage Inn in Yountville has wrapped up renovation of all 80 guest rooms, suites and villas. A color palette of white and blue grey and natu- ral wood tones carry out the country French décor that meshes with early California accents. Guest rooms are decorated with original photog- raphy that captures the beauty of California wine country and was shot by local Napa Valley artists. Accommodations feature intimate seating areas, custom-built armoires, cozy wood-burning fireplaces and private balconies or garden patios.
A multimillion dollar renovation project has upgraded Monterey’s largest luxury conference hotel with a new lobby featur- ing a fireplace and seating areas and 550 updated guest rooms with patios, walk-in rain showers and more. Throughout 2012 and 2013, more than 40,000 square feet of ballrooms and meeting spaces underwent a $6 million renovation that plays off the decorative theme of land, edge and sea. The Monterey Ballroom theme is based around the agricultural land and coastline. The edge and sea come together in the Monterey Conference Center with waves, coastal bluffs and whales.
One of the feature stories for our fall 2015 issue highlights ski areas in the Mountain West celebrating 50, 75 and 100 years. When opened, most of these were very winter-focused and probably not built with groups in mind other than perhaps ski clubs. Today, it’s a different ballgame. Ski resorts are seeing the benefits of a more year-round focus, cashing in on the beautiful mountain weather from late May through early October, and renovating and building new properties and amenities to provide great places for corporate, nonprofit and association groups to gather.
Showing clients and attendees a good time while they visit your city isn’t always easy. Standard tourist attractions can get stale and group happy hours and dinners are sometimes just not enough to ‘wow’ the group. SuiteHop, an online platform that allows users to directly book entire suites or individual seats in suites that would have otherwise gone unused, has unique access to ultra-exclusive suites at hard to get into events.
Glamping is here to stay, at least for the near future. It’s the “soft” way to camp for groups, with less grit and more glamour. Here are some great options in the Mountain West to consider.
Groups that seek peaks as backdrops also typically are looking for unique factors, outdoor diversions and top-notch facilities. We searched for convention and conference centers that deliver this trio of assets and more, offering examples in the heart of central business districts, on a college campus, minutes away from national parks and steps from the slopes.