Sorry glitterati, no Sundance for you!
COVID has canceled — like so many other things — the superstar studded in-person film festival that turns Park City, Utah, into Beverly Hills every January.
While that’s terrible news for the Hollywood who’s who, that’s great for us Joe Schmoes who use this winter wonderland retreat, 33 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, as intended.
Just don’t expect to score a deal now that Park City is sans celebs. Will festival-goer cancelations mean bargain room rates? “No,” Dan Howard, Visit Park City’s vice president of communications, told The Post.
“Room rates should drop slightly as there will likely be increased availability, but January still represents peak winter ski season,” said Howard.
A half-hour drive from Main Street, and wrapped in pure canyon beauty, the Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection’s winter season room rates are around $1,349 per night. During a normal in-person Sundance season, however, starting rates jump to around $1,899.
Better yet, amenities meant for the rich and famous are now available to us well-heeled riffraff.
For instance, Blue Sky’s cockle-warming Japanese donabe hot pot pop-up, Usu-Zan by SingleThread (courtesy of Californian farm-to-table “it” chefs Kyle and Katina Connaughton) was planned around Sundance, but the seven-course dining extravaganza, Jan. 20 to 30, isn’t canceled, said a hotel rep.
Still, this is one pricey noodle stew costing $800-$900 per person, depending on main course selection, but including drink pairings.
A-Lister haunt, the ski-in/ski-out St. Regis Deer Valley, located above Park City’s bustling Main Street, has its winter glow on, with cozy fires in sumptuous suites that offer a 24-hour private butler. Après-ski in the just-opened Vintage Room where the nightly sabering of the cork off a bottle of fine champagne is quite a show. Room rates during a normal Sundance start at $1,899 per night; winter season rates are around $1,349.
The Waldorf Astoria Park City — a favorite for celebs arriving to Park City via helicopter — has slope-side access to Park City Mountain, the largest ski resort in the United States, and suites with fireplaces and breathtaking views. Book a snowshoeing session and hike deep into snowy terrain. Winter room rates start at about $1,500 per night; during Sundance, rates start at $1,800.
In town, the Washington School House is an intimate boutique hotel set in one of the United States’ last surviving original 19th-century schoolhouses. Dating to 1889 and a National Historic Registry landmark, winter sports fans enjoy its ski valet and après-ski around the heated mountainside outdoor pool and fire pit. Winter rates start at $975 per night, with breakfast, afternoon bites and drinks in the stunning living room, and nightly turndown service with treats included. Due to its highly sought-after 13-room intimacy, Sundance rates are, well, through the roof.
Sundance Mountain Resort is the more low-key, western rustic resort owned by Sundance Film Festival founder Robert Redford. Like that isn’t some Hollywood star power right there! Surrounded by 6,000 picturesque acres of wilderness in the shadow of Utah’s 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos, interiors cop cowboy chic furnishings while Native American art from Redford’s personal collection is on display.
Take a ski lift up to the resort’s Bearclaw Cabin, the only mountaintop lodge in Utah, and soak in spectacular views of the Heber and Utah Valleys, and the surrounding Wasatch Mountains, while supping on Mexican comfort food. Winter rates run from $408 per night, jumping to a modest (for Sundance) $800 or so.
Part of super-deluxe Montage International, Pendry Park City is due to open this January, joining big sister Montage Deer Valley, another luxe spot with a fun pub with bowling lanes, darts and vintage arcade games. Outside, the heated pool and hot tubs — and an outdoor terrace with fire pits — are perfect for stargazing. Montage Deer Valley winter rates run from $1425 per night; festival rates leap to $2995 and up.
With no studio and corporate buyouts, seats should be easier to find at high-profile eateries and drinkeries like High West Distillery, a hand-crafted whiskey, bourbon and rye-making ski-in distillery right by the ski lifts, which has a Western-style saloon; Riverhorse on Main, a top-ranking steak and seafood joint; Grappa, an Italian-inspired restaurant set in a former saloon and brothel; and Wahso, a chic Asian bistro with a western bent.
There is no doubting that Sundance puts Park City on the celeb map each January, but Visit Park City’s Howard says businesses will take the cancelation in its stride.
“We lived through this when Sundance went fully virtual in January 2021,” added Howard.
“The result last year was that Sundance movies were screened by more people worldwide than ever before, and Park City hotels were utilized by recreation seekers looking to ski and enjoy the outdoors.”