How We Planned an Epic Large Group Ski Trip to Sundance, Utah

We are back from our combined bachelor & bachelorette ski trip to Sundance! Wow, it feels so good to have spent an entire weekend with our favorite people who have been there for us throughout our lives. I’ll go into more detail about the combined bachelor & bachelorette aspect of this trip in another post. Here, I wanted to focus on planning a large group ski trip to Sundance, Utah here. We had an epic time with incredible people, but planning a trip for this many people takes a lot of work! I’ll go into how I pieced together all aspects of the trip to make it all happen. While we stressed out about it in advance, we didn’t have any logistical nightmares, which I’m so thankful for.

Here is how we planned a large group ski trip so your next one can go smoothly!

Our Mountain Home

The most stressful part of planning a large group ski trip was finding the house to hold all of us! There were going to be about 19 of us and finding a home to host that many people is hard. I literally stressed over it for 72 hours and must have looked at more than seven different locations spread over 20+ lodging websites. To make sure we stayed on budget for everyone we chose to do a skip trip to Sundance, Utah because it was most affordable. Plus, we felt like we would get the most bang for our buck.

This home by Stewart Mountain Lodging was our mountain home for three nights and it was great! While I wish there were more bedrooms, there was plenty of room overall, it had updated finishes and the views were truly unreal. We were literally in the mountains and it felt like we woke up in a winter wonderland each morning. The back of the main level has floor-to-ceiling windows so you had unobstructed views of the mountains. I also appreciate how it is truly secluded so we didn’t see other houses or people around us. It felt private yet cozy. The first time I walked through the house, I was taken aback by how beautiful it was. Our cost for a three-night stay was around $5.5k for that weekend and once you split that with a large group, it’s quite reasonable.

One aspect I loved about this home are the open-concept living spaces! There is a large wrap-around kitchen, a centrally located fireplace, lots of seating and three living spaces. It was easy for our friends to gather around a common area to share stories or a meal, play games, relax and more.

We love how quaint is charming Sundance is, but it does lack some of the easy amenities of larger ski towns. The concierge for the home warned us in advance there are no retail shops. We placed a large grocery order at Harmons, which you can pick up or have the concierge deliver. Since we had plenty of cars and people, we did pick up ourselves and also went to pick up dinner the last night in town!

Most what you’d expect in town amenities are in Orem (10-15 min away) where you’ll find groceries, pharmacies, sports shops, restaurants, and other modern needs. 

How To Find A Vacation Rental

I used a mix of Chris Hutchins’ advice on All The Hacks and some of my old journalism skills to find this home. You’re most likely familiar with sites including Airbnb or VRBO. However, there are some others I would recommend if you want something with more modern amenities, updated finishes or a few luxe concierge details. I’ve grown to be a bit particular with lodging when it comes to trips. I’ll be honest: I love our home, I love my bed and I love our sheets. If we’re going to somewhere, it has to be on par with that or better otherwise I’m more inclined to stay at home haha! If you are going skiing, I would recommend checking if the ski resort has private residences since you’re more inclined to get a deal on a bundled package. Once you check those options, here are others:

My best recommendation would be to try and narrow down your location and then search these sites. However, I found most of these homes are managed by a management company and not the actual owner. If you find a home you love on Airbnb or VRBO they are usually listed by the management company. From there, you can google the company and chances are the prices are better when you book directly!

Another recommendation would be to google “X location villa rentals” or “X location vacation homes” since sometimes you’ll find local rental sites where you can find nice homes as well! Finally, you do have to be reasonable. Nice houses are expensive, so if you want something with modern finishes, expect to pay a certain amount, but there are ways to upgrade your experience to find the best value for what you’re spending. It just takes a bit of persistence and planning in advance helps a lot! Similar to hotels, these homes have different pricing depending on the season.

Skiing at Sundance Ski Resort

Johnny talked to a few experienced skiers about our decision to go to Sundance. They said it was pretty “out there” as far as ski places. The day before everyone arrived, we visited Olympic Park in Park City and did a little sightseeing near Empire Pass in Park City. We do dream of getting a mountain house some day, so a little scouting never hurt anybody. By the time we decided to head back to Salt Lake City, we hit “ski out” traffic at 4:30pm. (We also later learned the World Cup for skiing was happening as they were choosing the Olympic Team for Team USA!)

Looking at the line of cars, we could only imagine the traffic at the lifts. One of our friends sent us a story of her ski trip and the restaurants, resorts and lifts were jammed. There weren’t even slots to temporarily stash your skiis between runs! I can imagine that’s what a lot of Park City and Deer Valley looked like for the holiday weekend.

The experts weren’t wrong when they said Sundance was “out there.” We traveled south about an hour from Salt Lake City to get to Sundance and were right up against the mountains as we drove into Sundance. You could see the 4-6 feet of snow recently cleared from the roads. When planning a large group ski trip, we wanted a location where everyone would enjoy skiing whether they were a beginner or more advanced. Sundance did just that.

Ski Passes & Rentals

I told the wedding party about a month earlier about the “S-Pass” Sundance sells for $99, which is a discount to their usual $119 full-day lift ticket. The beauty of the S-Pass for our purposes was its discount and pay-as-you-go capabilities. Anyone who decided they wanted to ski more would be charged another $89 automatically when they go up the lift. No need to show up at the box office and pay $119 for another full-day lift ticket. Win-win and perfect for our ski trip to Sundance.

There were about 5-10 ski shops where you could rent ski gear for about $30/day. For convenience in our large group, everyone decided to rent at the Sundance Outfitters where ski rentals were between $50-65/day for boots, skis, poles, and a helmet. The helmet for $12/day isn’t required but HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Our wedding party comprised of a doctor, 2nd-year medical resident, pharmacist and two ICU nurses who all said helmets are a must. If you need to buy gloves and goggles they are about $30-40 each for the entry-level stuff. I would recommend buying these items in advance if you can! I’ll have a full blog I rented things like my ski pants, jacket, visor, and gloves from Kitlender.

There are other services such as Black Tie Ski Rentals or Ski Butlers where a crew will come to your lodging accommodations to properly fit everyone. I love this idea and it sure would have made our ski trip to Sundance much easier, but they don’t service Sundance, yet.

Ski Lift & Runs

On the first day when we all got our S-Passes and Skis, we were very happy to see the lift line was very short. We thought…maybe this is a Friday-only thing…especially on a peak ski weekend like MLK weekend. What we discovered was Sundance is a nice secluded resort that’s pretty busy. However, it’s never as packed as the ski runs you’d find in more popular names you hear such as Park City, Deer Valley, Vail, etc. It was truly perfect for our mixed crew of truly beginner skiers and intermediate/advanced skiers. This was one of the main reasons we chose a ski trip to Sundance.

With a total of 44 runs, it felt like enough to stay interesting for a few days and really give something interesting for everyone. The views were absolutely epic for both beginners and advanced skiers. The backside of the mountain was a real treat for the more advanced skiers like Johnny and some our friends. They mentioned the powder was on another level there where fewer skiers had traversed. I will say, the exit off the mountain is a bit steep and even our friends who ski often said it was a bit tricky. No shame if you decide to unclip and slide down on your bum haha! A few of our friends totally ate it on the way down even though they made it through the actual runs just fine.

I can see why people love going to some other resorts that are on the EPIC Pass network. When you say “we’ll meet you at the bottom” in Sundance, it’s pretty clear you mean one place. Whether you’re skiing yourself or waiting on friends to come down, you’ll see everyone make it to the bottom. It’s really hard to lose someone once they are off the slopes. In other resorts, the bottom could be more than eight places. The last time Johnny skied in Park City, their group ended up in a Gondola and a whole different mountain. It was great that we could keep our crew of 13 mostly together on the mountain. We were never more than 20-45 minutes from each other. 

Logistics & Organization

Anytime you have a large group you’ll need a way for everyone to stay organized. We used google doc and added everyone so they could see each others’ information. Everyone had access to flights, activities we were planning and updates we added to the very top. For example, when the S-Passes were on sale, Johnny dropped a link in the google doc and alerted everyone to check it rather than texting all 18 people individually. Keeping most announcements and communication in the google doc made our ski trip to Sundance seamless. We escaped without any logistical nightmares!

Car Rentals

As we mentioned, a skip trip to Sundance isn’t near Salt Lake like Park City would be. You will absolutely need a car as an uber will run you about $200 to rhe resort alone. Most of the mountain homes will also require 4-wheel drive cars,which we found standard car rentals cannot really gaurantee. Car rentals are getting pretty pricey these days, too! We found Turo was perfect for our needs since we were able to get some nice cars for a good price. Both Johnny and I rented cars from Jay (please tell him I sent you). They were clean, well maintained and drove so smoothly! We couldn’t be happier! From the airport, you wait for the Park N’ Jet shuttle, which can take about 5-15 minutes. I recommend calling them when you have your bags. They’ll take you directly to your car so it’s a super smooth process, just don’t forget to tip the driver! To return the car, it’s the same process, but in reverse.

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