Talia Salem, Smart Meetings Magazine -- This weekend I embarked on my first journey to Utah. Snowboard in tow, I boarded my Southwest flight to Salt Lake City. (Full disclosure: this trip was for vacation, I was celebrating my birthday with my two sisters.) After an easy 90-minute trip, we descended into the state capital-and what a sight it was. It was the most beautiful view, flying over the snowy Rockies into the city-I was craning my neck to get a better look the entire time. After we landed in the valley with stunning mountain vistas all around, we hopped on a Canyon Transportation shuttle to head up to the mountain to Little Cottonwood Canyon and the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
For planners, Canyon Transportation is a great option to take your attendees on the roughly 30-minute ride to the mountains with private charters available. The friendly drivers navigated us through the canyon safely and on-time.
After we settled into the Cliff Lodge, we went to outdoor hot tub to unwind. The setting was unreal: the snow was lightly falling overhead, we were surrounded by tall trees generously frosted by gobs of snow and the picturesque peaks watched over us from above as skiers and snowboarders whizzed down the bunny slope alongside. We had arrived.
During the following days, the snow kept on falling at almost unprecedented rates. We took advantage of the hefty snowfall and hit the slopes three out of the four days. Snowbird is the epitome of ski-in/ski-out-you walk out of the first level of the hotel and ride down your first slope. This was the first time I have ever experienced this mountainside convenience and it was awesome. Although not all of the runs were open, we made the most of the baby-powder soft terrain as we hoisted ourselves up and down the mountain. The snow was so great and powdery that it didn't even hurt after I face planted on one run and did a not-so-coordinated back flip off of another, though a few times I found myself waist-deep in "pow" (as the locals call it) and frantically had to dig myself out.
The snow storm continued throughout the weekend and didn't really let up until we left with the sun in the sky (see the picture below). One night I woke up in the middle of the night thinking that there was a thunder and lighting storm going on, to later learn that the loud noise and flashes of light was in fact dynamite from the avalanche prevention efforts. We were also snowed in one night and put on "interlodge," which meant that we couldn't leave the building. Even though we were on lock-down, we were not bored. There were plenty of on-site restaurants and public spaces to keep us occupied in addition to a full-service spa. The gift shop is stocked up with games and snowy day activities, and there is a game room downstairs with a pool table, arcade games and air hockey.
The 882-room resort itself was very busy with many groups in-house to take advantage of the conference facilities and great outdoor recreation. The property offers 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, 31 meeting rooms, the 15,000-square-foot Event Center and on-site A/V and F&B. Groups can be easily contained on the resort grounds with enough options to keep attendees' attention, but with the peaceful seclusion to keep them focused. Consider allowing your attendees to ski in the morning or afternoon (and score cheaper half-day passes for them) and host a meeting in the second half of the day.
Our trip to Snowbird sadly came to a close, and as I rode back down through the canyon to the airport, I thought about something my sister said while looking at the constant flurry of snowflakes outside of our room: "It is like living in a snow globe." I guess living in a little glass bubble wouldn't be that bad if that bubble was Snowbird, just ask the hundreds of transplants we met on our journey.