Travel, United States

Sundance 2015

According to the Sundance Institute website, “In 1981, Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute to foster independence, risk-taking, and new voices in American film. That year, ten emerging filmmakers were invited to Sundance Resort in the mountains of Utah, where they worked with leading writers, directors, and actors to develop their original independent projects.

Today, our staff of 150 employees works from offices in Park City, Los Angeles, and New York City to provide 24 residential labs, grants exceeding $2.5 million, and ongoing mentorships that support more than 350 artists each year. Each January, our Sundance Film Festival introduces a global audience to groundbreaking work and emerging talent in independent film. More than 50 other public programs connect artists with audiences to present original voices, inspire new ideas, and create community around independent storytelling.

But, it hasn’t just become an important event for independent film makers, it also helps to foster connections in the entertainment industry, provide even A-list celebrities a chance to branch out into other areas of filmmaking, such as writing, directing and producing; as well as giving movie enthusiasts a close connection to the entertainment industry that few get to experience.

Year after year, I’ve seen my friends attend this (rather cold yet glamorous) event, posting pictures of them with celebrities, parties, movies and other goings on.  Year after year, I’ve longed to go.  Finally, I had an opportunity and now, I’m hooked.

Day 1: Thursday, January 22nd

Since it was a low-key night, we headed to Robert Redford’s restaurant Zoom for dinner and drinks.  It’s an incredible place!  I highly recommend the Short Rib dish.

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Day 2: Friday, January 23rd

My girlfriend and I headed over to the spa at Montage for the day (which I highly recommend – we spent the whole day there, taking advantage of the entire 35,000 Sq. Ft. facility).  Note, Montage is also the place many celebrities stay, including The Stone Temple Pilots (STP), Gwenyth Paltrow, Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon!  That evening, Montage was holding a free, live concert with STP, which was incredible (see videos below).

In the late evening, we headed over to Bistro 412 for dinner – a place I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re in for a large, loud crowd and ok service.

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 Stone Temple Pilots at Montage

Day 3: Saturday, January 24th

This was a great day to be out and about, running into celebrities (shout outs go to Alec Baldwin and his family, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Bacon, Keanu Reeves, James Franco and Zachary Quinto), taking in free/private events and generally wandering around, exploring.

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 Chase Sapphire Lounge Q&A with James Franco and Zachary Quinto

Acura Live!

Collective Party with Pras

Fun with iPhhhoto at the Collective party!

Day 4: Sunday, January 25th

On our final day in Park City, we decided to start the day out with something a little unusual but highly therapeutic – dog sledding!  We hired Racer Gibson, via All Seasons Adventures, to take us on our 50-minute ride.  It was the most incredible experience.

Through Racer Gibson, the husband and wife team have a foundation called Arctic Rescue that helps rescue huskies, which they both will foster and take on permanently.  Some of these pups have been with the team for four weeks and are already sledding.  And from personal experience, every one of these dogs is so happy, in amazing health and just wants to run!

I spent time going down the line, playing with each of them and even the elderly ones that get to go along for rides in the car or just for slower, shorter experiences.  All of them were so loving and gentle and of course, I wanted to bring them all home!

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Dog Sledding around the old mines

On our last day in Park City, we also went to brunch at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, hung out at the Lipton Sparkling Tea Lounge, listening to the amazing mixes of my friend DJ Mr Best; and explored as much of Main St. as we could before we all headed home.

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More fun with iPhhhoto at Lipton Sparkling Tea Lounge


While this was an amazing trip, there are definitely a few things I’d do differently:

Passes

No kidding, passes for 2016 will start becoming available in April of 2015.  Check out the Sundance website for more information.  All Access passes definitely provide you the best experience and while they seem costly, almost every event is free food and alcohol.

Transportation

There is no easy way around town at all – it doesn’t matter if it’s by cab, uber or car rental.

Taxis: Taxis are the MOST EXPENSIVE way to go.  To give you an example, taxis charge $120 (with tip) to get to Park city from the airport.  Ubers charge half of that (if you go with Uber X).  To give you another example, taxis were charging $45 to go one mile from our place in Deer Valley to Main St.,  Uber X was $7.

Ubers: While Ubers seem to be the cheaper option, they are not always available the way you would hope.  During the day, Uber was only deploying Acura SUVs, which had a MINIMUM rate of $35 – $50, depending on the time of day.  Uber X’s were not available until the evenings.  HINT: If you get ahold of an Uber X driver, ask for their cell #, as they will be more than happy to get you when you need a ride.

Park City Shuttle: Pending you are near a stop, this is the cheapest way to get around, as it is free!  Most shuttles run in their own loops with their main station being on Main St.  It will virtually take you anywhere you need to go, including the resorts!

Renting a Car: Depending on what you rent, this is also a great option (and one I might entertain next year).  While parking is a HUGE PAIN during most of the time on Main St. (and around $20-$25 a day), it does allow you a lot more flexibility to come and go.  The nights are so cold that waiting for a cab, Uber or a shuttle is painful.

Lodging

There are many resorts to choose from, all of which do provide free shuttle service if you are staying with them (although the rates are incredibly pricey).  The other option is to rent a house.  Deer Valley is the place to be however, if you want more inexpensive options, try looking even 20 minutes outside of the city.

Events/Parties/Eating/Drinking = LONG LINES

There is a pecking order to any place you want to get into.  All-Access get first right to entry, followed ticket holders, then  guest list attendees and then if there is availability, walk-ins.  Given that the venues are much smaller and intimate now, the latter usually do not get entry and are oftentimes, waiting outside all night.

Oftentimes, this means finding a bite to eat can be rather difficult. Most of the restaurants and bars are taken over by private events.  Make any and all reservations you can, well in advance.  Note that those establishments without parties oftentimes have a long line, since everyone wants to eat and very few places are available.  My suggestion: Either eat at your resort or go grocery shopping as much as you can.

What to Wear

I’m sure it’s no secret, I’m a fashion enthusiast, which means layering was not something that crossed my mind.  When I was putting together my outfits, I kept thinking that I’d be inside more than outside.  This is definitely not the case.  Warm, chic coats, hats and gloves are KEY.  I saw women layering a turtleneck with a fur vest AND a coat AND a scarf.  It’s possible to look amazing while staying warm 🙂 Also, note that there is ice and snow everywhere so heels are not ideal most of the time.  Reserve those for the nights out (the sidewalks on Main St. are pretty clear).

…until next year…