Get away to it all!
A region of high-desert landscapes dotted with attractive mid-sized communities like Provo and Orem, the Utah Valley epitomizes a locale where you can get away from it all without leaving it all behind.
Set right in the heart of the state around the inviting, fresh-water Utah Lake, the area also provides planners with easy accessibility and a surprisingly varied selection of meeting venues to complement its diverse offerings.
“Whether your attendees are seeking recreation, culture, dining or great accommodations, it’s all here,” says Joel Racker, president and CEO of the Utah Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I really think that it’s the tremendous variety of things to do when people aren’t in the meeting room that makes the area such an ideal place to mix business with pleasure.”
Racker cited the International Double-Reed Society, which held their annual conference at Provo’s Brigham Young University in July, as a group that was drawn by the area’s natural allure among other factors.
“They picked Utah Valley for the beauty, convenience and the diversity of attractions and activities,” he says. “A lot of people came early or stayed late, and built their vacations around the event.”
Ron White, commissioner of the SouthWest Youth Hockey League, has also become an admirer of the region following his numerous visits. “We’ve been doing events in the Valley for five-to-six years, and have always enjoyed our time there,” says the California resident, adding that his groups typically stay at the Provo Marriott and conduct their events at The Peaks Ice Arena, where White is a huge fan of owner Max Rabner and the staff. Groups can use the facility for private ice rentals or exclusive ice shows—with skating and dancing performed—or gather for business in the arena’s Olympic Meeting Room.
MAJOR MEETING VENUES
The Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center comprises 330 rooms and suites, plus 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and 21 function rooms. The property also has a handy downtown locale, views of the Wasatch Mountains, two concierge levels and a private, members-only club lounge. Several quality restaurants are within a short walk, in addition to the hotel’s own American Grille.
For an unbeatable blend of regal and rustic, Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort in Sundance is a can’t-miss choice. The 6,000-acre retreat at the base of Mount Timpanogos has 106 guest rooms, 10,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, several scenic outdoor venues and a Native American-inspired spa.
Thanksgiving Point, in Lehi, is a truly unusual offering—a blend of championship golf, eclectic shopping, dining and entertainment, and the sprawling Museum of Ancient Life, home to the largest dinosaur display in world. Altogether the intriguing non-profit compound showcases more than 28,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, plus over 60 acres of pristine gardens available for outdoor dining, events or team-building endeavors. Other highlights include the biggest man-made waterfall in the Western Hemisphere, an array of restaurants and a multiplex cinema.
The brand-new Noah’s, launched in Lindon recently, is a unique “one-stop shopping” compound of event spaces and recreational facilities. Your group can host a small board meeting, large reception, basketball tournament or rooftop ice-skating party, among other events, and catering facilities are also available. Each of the diverse spaces are rented separately in hourly blocks, allowing groups to pick-and-choose depending on their specific needs.
The Covey Center for the Arts, in Provo, has an interesting mix of spaces for rent, from boardrooms to performance halls to dance studios, and also hosts numerous live dramatic performances, local musicians and nationally known acts.
When it comes to savoring Utah’s great outdoors, it doesn’t get much better than Uinta National Forest, essentially encompassing Provo with endless miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian paths. Utah Lake State Park, also in Provo, is built around the nearly 100,000-acre eponymous freshwater lake.
Another can’t-miss way for your group to appreciate the stupendous scenery is via a ride on the Historic Heber Valley Railroad, based in Heber City. It’s a blast into the past, riding along in a vintage passenger car while a 1907 steam locomotive hauls you past pretty lakes and through rugged canyons; special seasonal events range from a summertime raft-and-river combination (where passengers float downstream after a train ride upstream) to “haunted canyon” jaunts in October.
The Springville Museum of Art, housed in an exquisite Spanish-Moroccan-style structure, has a focus on Utah artists, plus an impressive collection of 20th-century Russian masterworks. Docent-led tours are available, and the museum also has some very nice rentable spaces—including an attractive garden atrium—that can be used for events in the daytime or after-hours.
The 600-acre campus at Brigham Young University is an excellent locale both for casual exploration or more-organized group visits. The well-manicured grounds display a widely varied mix of architectural styles, and a host of museums includes the acclaimed Museum of Art, the Museum of People and Cultures and the Earth Science Museum—with a focus on fossils. A strong performing arts scene and several spectator sports options round out the school’s diversions.
Groups should also be sure to venture into at least one of the historic downtown areas speckled throughout the region. It’s surprising to see how little these throwback districts have changed since the turn of the 20th century, particularly those in Provo, Payson and Lehi.
The Tree Room at the Sundance Resort is a true dining experience, serving imaginative creations in an inviting setting adorned with Native American artwork and artifacts. The restaurant has been selected as best in the state, and Sundance’s Foundry Grill and Old West-style Owl Bar—an 1890’s tavern actually restored and moved here from Wyoming—are top-notch as well. The bar is embellished by numerous photos of Redford and Paul Newman, and was once a favorite of the actual Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and their “Hole in the Wall Gang”; today it’s the perfect place to bring your own gang of attendees to relax and enjoy.
The Chef’s Table in Orem is another winner, with classy continental dishes running the gamut from macadamia-crusted halibut to gorgonzola-stuffed beef tenderloin. And for something unexpected, Provo’s Tucano’s Brazilian Grill is a lively establishment with a fun menu and exotic cocktails—better-suited for a group celebration than a serious business meeting.