Taking a group to the crisp, clean air of Utah's mountains is more than just a high-altitude meeting. The eclectic offerings, one-of-a-kind experiences and choice of eight ski towns and resorts within an hour of Salt Lake City make it oh so possible to match a destination to a group's culture and budget.
We elected to focus on three fairly diverse Utah locations. Park City is the largest with both a resort and a historic town, as well as the 2002 Winter Olympics attached to its moniker. Sundance and Snowbird are resort-only locations, with Sundance the most private and iconic and Snowbird known for high-end luxury.
Once there, the rate of return is high. "Forty-six percent of our group meetings are repeat business in some fashion; we've had some groups coming as long as 39 years!" shares Mark Erekson, director of sales for Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
Located just 29 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort offers some of the most accessible slopes near a major city. This visitor-friendly resort has stunning views of Little Cottonwood Canyon and a conference center with more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
With on-site conference, audio-visual and banquet teams, events for up to 1,400 can be planned easily and run smoothly with the resort's assistance. Dedicated meeting rooms number in excess of 30, and there are more than 25 outdoor banquet sites including patios, tents, pavilions and other alfresco options.
However, it's the mountaintop that is the biggest draw. "The Aerial Tram is the most popular request for groups. It can handle 125 people in a single tram and shuttle them to 11,000 feet in under nine minutes. Guests truly enjoy the views and cocktail receptions on Hidden Peak," says Mark Erekson, director of sales for Snowbird.
Another option is an Oktoberfest-style lunch, dinner or reception. "We have a 15,000-square-foot event tent with stage and authentic German festivities," he notes.
"Corporate groups love to take the tram up the mountain and explore while soaking in the great views from the top," confirms Ryan Hanley, business development manager for DVIP Inc. "We have coordinated parties of up to 275 guests and featured activities like mountain scavenger hunts, whiskey tastings and evening stargazing hikes."
And don't forget about nature's smaller wonders - the animals. "One of my favorite groups to come through was The Wildlife Society. They had 1,400 attendees, and even though these folks work with nature every day, I was still surprised about how excited they got watching deer, moose and mountain sheep walk in and around the village," Erekson says.
For some, mountaintop views come from the top of the resort's spa. "We have this one group of 1,000 people that comes every other year. They truly meet from sunup to past sunset each night," Erekson explains. "However, come 9 p.m. when the meetings get out, they flock to the top of the resort spa where we have a rooftop pool to take in the scenes and sounds of the starry nights."