Robert Redford’s Touch is Everywhere at His Sundance

Saloon keeper at the Owl Bar, Sundance Resort in Utah.
Saloon keeper at the Owl Bar, Sundance Resort in Utah.

Tonight we are lodging at Sundance, once the home of the famous film festival and today an upscale resort, conference center and ski area that’s owned by the famous actor.  Everybody knows who he is, and of course, the first thing I asked our host Lucy Ridolphi was, ‘where is he?’

She said Mr Redford has a home in Calistoga California and one here at Sundance, and that he’s very involved in the day to day operations here, ever since he bought these 5000 acres back in 1969. He comes to ski, and to visit pretty regularly, and keeps in touch by phone when he’s not on the property.

“Mr Redford is very visual,” she said, “he calls the GM regularly and is involved with everything. He cares a lot about the experience for the guests. He wants them to experience a certain thing; nature, this lovely environment, and his taste is understated elegance. A sophisticated style…he has a vision of this place and that’s why the details are so important to him.”  Indeed I commend Mr Redford on his taste. Lots of wood, streamside rooms that are actually condos, and a nice balance of tasteful western decor and comfort all around.

Over an elegant dinner of roast loin of Elk and shrimp with grits in the resort’s Tree Room restaurant, I asked Lucy about Redford’s latest film project. “He just finished directing a new movie starring Robin Wright, called The Conspirator–it’s about the people who helped the man who shot Abraham Lincoln.”  The resort is tasteful and upscale…but in that way that the truly upscale places are…understated, and with service that’s the right blend of caring and taking care.  We toured the bar called the Owl Room where the wooden bar was taken  from the same bar once used by the actual Butch Cassidy.  Outside my window a stream rushes down the canyon. Tomorrow we’ll ski their slopes, it’s a pretty big mountain with 42 trails.

And as you approach this property, all you see is Mount Timpanogos, which towers above us at 11,000 feet. The ski lift is right next to the back door of the resort, and they sell season tickets for an unheard of $150 a year to local residents.  We walked down a hallway that was filled with photographs of various directors and movie stars who have spent time at the actor’s training workshops here, names like Denzel, and Alda, and Pollack and Tarentino.  And in the Owl bar, a photo of the original Butch Cassidy and his sidekick, on a replica of their wanted poster.