Monumental feats of nature—dramatic, red rock formations and soaring, snow-capped peaks—compete for attendees’ attention in Utah. But that’s a good thing. Meeting in a state with so many wonders is sure to draw registrants, and all of the state’s attractions make for fantastic settings as well.
Named the number one state for business by Forbes magazine in 2014, Utah is packed with promising meeting amenities: LEED-certified conference centers, award-winning resorts and group-oriented hotels, and outdoor adventures that promote camaraderie between meeting-goers. In every regard, events held in Utah are geared toward success.
Salt Lake City & Northern Utah: Greater Expectations
A vibrant, constantly evolving destination with an upwardly mobile economy, Salt Lake City offers associations everything they need for productive meetings and successful events. And groups interested in exploring in the area can add excursions to the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Range.
Traveling to Salt Lake is simple—Salt Lake City International Airport is accessed by nonstop flights from 92 cities. Once there, attendees can hop on the TRAX light-rail line and be in the downtown convention district in 10 minutes. More active attendees can use GREENbike, the city’s nonprofit bike-share program, with stations located near major downtown destinations.
More than 7,500 hotel rooms are located within the city’s convention district, home to the silver LEED–certified Salt Palace Convention Center and its more than 679,000 square feet of space. Two new hotels recently opened within a block away—a 159-room Hyatt House and a 120-room Courtyard—while the adjacent, 214-room Holiday Inn Express/Salt Lake City Downtown (formerly a Shilo Inn) has been completely renovated. Omni Hotels & Resorts has been awarded the bid to build a $300 million convention hotel adjacent to the Salt Palace, which is expected to open as early as 2018. It will be Omni’s first property in Utah.
Other major meeting venues include the 56,000-square-foot EnergySolutions Arena; the Gallivan Center; the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center; and The Depot, a venue located within the landmark Union Station that welcomes groups of up to 1,200. At the University of Utah, the gold LEED–certified Natural History Museum of Utah is a top attraction; its lobby, referred to as “The Canyon,” can host up to 272 for seated dinners or up to 400 for receptions, and the museum has event space for up to 1,000. Smaller groups can meet at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.
In their free time, attendees might visit the open-air City Creek Center, a 700,000-square-foot shopping and entertainment area near downtown Temple Square. The Utah Symphony hosts performances at the 2,768-seat Abravanel Hall and the Utah Opera is housed at the 1,876-seat Capitol Theatre. Looking ahead, the Utah Performing Arts Center is scheduled to open on Main Street in 2016 with a 2,500-seat playhouse.
Associations that have recently held meetings in the greater Salt Lake City area include the American Choral Directors Association, which held its national conference in February with events at the Salt Lake Tabernacle and Abravanel Hall, and the Society for Industrial & Applied Mathematics, which held one conference in March at the convention center and has scheduled another for October at the Sheraton.
In the nearby suburb of West Valley City, the multiuse Maverik Center offers a 17,000-square-foot arena floor. To the south, in residential Sandy, the South Towne Exposition Center features 243,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 15,000 square feet of meeting space and full audiovisual services.
North of Salt Lake City, in Layton, the Davis Conference Center has 70,000 square feet of function space, including 20 breakout rooms and a ballroom. The center is attached to a 147-room Hilton Garden Inn and is a short drive from the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve.
Just 15 miles farther north, in Ogden, is the Eccles Conference Center and the connected Peery’s Egyptian Theater. Other venues include the Golden Spike Event Center, the Dee Events Center at Weber State University and the year-old Hub 801, which features 25,000 square feet of event space.
The Junction, a mixed-use development that includes the 125,000-square-foot Salomon Center recreation facility, is a fun place for team-building functions. Also on-site is Megaplex Theatres, which welcomes private events. Within walking distance is the 6,700-seat Lindquist Field and the newly renovated Courtyard/Ogden (formerly the Summit Hotel & Conference Center).
Ogden has hosted many organizations of late, including the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, the Utah Advising Association, the Association of College Unions International and the American Choral Directors Association.
Logan, a city nestled at the foot of the Bear River Range, is home to Utah State University, which works in conjunction with the University Inn & Conference Center to host events. The Cache Valley Center for the Arts offers its Ellen Eccles Theatre and its Bullen Center.
Far north, in Garden City, a high-end “glamping” resort called Conestoga Ranch is scheduled to open at Bear Lake in July. Accommodations will include eight traditional-style glamping tents and 16 custom-crafted Conestoga covered wagons. For indoors gathering, the property offers space in its main lodge.
Park City & the Heber Valley: High Value, Hot Spots
When it comes to a proven reputation for success, it’s tough to beat Park City, a mountain destination 35 miles east of Salt Lake City International Airport. As host of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games and the Sundance Film Festival, the city has hit all the high marks associated with hospitality. Planners are assisted by 125,000 square feet of meeting space, a historic downtown and some 4,000 guest rooms in the area. Notable properties include the DoubleTree by Hilton/Park City–The Yarrow (formerly the Yarrow Hotel & Conference Center), which recently wrapped up an $8.5 million renovation. And the Hotel Park City is now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
Making local news is the $50 million capital improvement plan by Vail Resorts to combine the Canyons and Park City Mountain resorts, creating the single largest ski resort in the United States. Plans include a new gondola, two new chairlifts and a new restaurant.
For off-site events and extracurricular activities, Park City and its surrounds offer something for any group. In town, the 1,270-seat Egyptian Theatre and the 486-seat Library Center Theatre are two of the larger venues used during the Sundance Film Festival. Other venues include the Kimball Art Center and The Yard. And on the north side of town is the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse. Utah Olympic Park, which offers more than a half dozen event venues, is wrapping up a $3 million modernization project.
Two local hangouts that serve as convivial spots for group events are the Red Rock Brewing Company and the High West Distillery & Saloon; the latter can accommodate events of up to 175.
Twenty miles north, in Wanship, a new High West distilling facility is expected to open in July at Blue Sky Ranch, a 3,500-acre property that already offers a variety of outdoor activities: fly-fishing and horseback riding in the summer and dog sledding in the winter. The distillery plans to offer tasting rooms and a restaurant with event space.
The Deer Valley Resort, known for upscale hotels such as the slopeside Stein Eriksen Lodge, is also just up the road from Park City. The resort recently purchased, and will be operating, the nearby Solitude Mountain Resort. Renovations are in the works, including a remodel of the Moonbeam Lodge Restaurant.
Over at Snowbird, a mountain resort community located 35 miles west of Park City, groups will find a range of accommodations as well as 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
About 17 miles south of Park City, Heber City offers activities for any season. Planners can charter the historic Heber Valley Railroad for private rides. Downtown, the Wasatch County Special Event Center features a 48,000-square-foot arena with stadium seating.
Just west, in Midway, the Homestead Resort features a redesigned golf course and the Wasatch Mountain State Park is home to two golf courses. Larger groups can spread their meetings between the Homestead and its neighboring sister property, the Zermatt Resort.
The Utah Valley: The Sporting Edge
The Utah Valley, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, offers all the natural beauty and diverse adventures and pastimes one might associate with the state. The county is home to 11 parks, five of which have event pavilions.
In Lehi, the Thanksgiving Point farm, garden and museum complex and Cabela’s have event space. For overnight stays, two new hotels offer small meeting space: a Home25Suites by Hilton and the Courtyard/Lehi at Thanksgiving Point.
Orem is perhaps best known as home of Utah Valley University. Groups can meet at the on-campus UCCU Center or the Sorensen Student Center.
Just 13 miles east, in Sundance, groups can hold camp at the Sundance Mountain Resort. Its event space includes the Redford Conference Center, with 3,500 square feet of space.
To the south, in Provo, an emphasis on quality of life has resulted in a vibrant downtown. A large network of mountain and paved trails allows for easy outdoor activity, and the FrontRunner commuter rail makes travel to the northern parts of the valley effortless. Members can also fly into Provo Airport.
For events, the city’s relatively new venues complement long-time standbys. The 160,000-square-foot Provo Recreation Center features three gyms that can be used for events, five pool areas and additional sports facilities. The silver LEED–certified Utah Valley Convention Center has 83,578 square feet of space. Also in town is Brigham Young University, which offers the BYU Conference Center for meetings. Off campus is the Victorian-style Provo Library at Academy Square. In their off time, attendees may enjoy a performance at the Provo Covey Center for the Arts, which has 42,000 square feet of available space. In nearby Spanish Fork, the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds has 130,000 square feet of space. Groups that have recently held events in the area include the Intermountain Farmers Association and the Utah Association of Counties.
St. George & Cedar City: Active Pursuits
The hub of southern Utah, St. George, is the gateway to two national parks: Zion and Bryce Canyon. But St. George and its surrounding communities are also popular for golf and spa resorts, hiking and biking trails and even dinosaur tracks. Events like the St. George Marathon and Southwest Symphony Orchestra performances round out the offerings. Fifteen minutes from downtown is the St. George Municipal Airport.
A “green community” leader, the Dixie Convention Center regularly welcomes events of up to 5,000. The National Junior College Athletic Association, the Utah Library Association and the Utah Advising Association are just a few of the organizations that have scheduled functions at the center this year.
Area resorts with event space include the Green Valley Boutique Hotel & Spa and the Red Mountain Resort & Spa on the edge of Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins. Both can host groups of up to 100.
Forty miles east of St. George, in Springdale, is the Canyon Community Center. Situated along the Virgin River, the Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens has a 750-square-foot conference room, a 900-square-foot pavilion and a new cafe and bar. From here, it’s less than a mile to the southern entrance of Zion National Park.
Fifty miles north of St. George, Cedar City does a fine job of mixing adventure and culture. Meeting spaces can be found at Southern Utah University’s Hunter Conference Center, the Sharwan Smith Center, the Festival Hall Convention Center and the Heritage Theater.
From Cedar City it’s a 30-mile drive to Brian Head, a resort town with a base elevation of 9,800 feet. The Grand Lodge at Brian Head has meeting space for up to 75 people. An option for larger groups is the remodeled Summit Mountain Lodge & Resort.
Farther north, in rural Beaver, attendees can add to their agendas a round of golf at the Canyon Breeze Course or horse racing at the Canyon Breeze Training Center. For meetings, up to 300 can gather at the Eagle Point Resort.
Moab: Revved Up in Red Rock Country
For a small resort town in eastern Utah, Moab scores high marks with the masses. In the milder months, its population of nearly 5,500 grows substantially to welcome visitors using it as a base for exploring the red rocks of Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Dead Horse Point State Park and the Colorado River. Moab is served by Canyonlands Field, which sees direct flights from Denver on Great Lakes Airlines.
Thanks to its popularity, there has been a recent surge in local hotel-room growth. A new property called 57 Robbers Roost offers five fully equipped condominiums, and a Fairfield Inn & Suites opened last fall with 89 guest rooms and meeting space for up to 40. There’s also a new 94-room Comfort Suites. However, Moab’s largest meeting hotel remains the Moab Valley Inn & Conference Center, which can host events as large as 650. Groups up for a more grounded stay might consider booking a cabin (or pitching a tent) at the brand-new ACT Campground & Environmental Learning Center, an eco-friendly camp park three miles from town whose 5,000-square-foot Learning Center may be used for group functions.
Moab’s main venues provide solid work experiences. Key are the Old Spanish Trail Arena, the Moab Arts & Recreation Center, the Star Hall and the Grand Center Additionally, Canyonlands By Night & Day offers area tours and also has a 4,140-square-foot building that can be used for events.
Northwest of town, the Bar-M Chuckwagon offers a taste of the Old West as well as a 3,600-square-foot event space. Northeast of town along the Colorado River, the Red Cliffs Lodge and the 240-acre Sorrel River Ranch Resort welcome groups with team-building activities.
Bringing out the best in attendees comes easy in Utah, with its easy access, incomparable scenery and year-round active offerings. For planners, the state’s meeting destinations have become known for offering everything that makes an event successful, and so it’s only natural that attendees are inclined to hop at the chance to attend—and enjoy themselves thoroughly.