“Snow Canyon would have been a national park but we’re in Utah,” explains Red Mountain Resort general manager Tracey Welsh. Such a comment isn’t the kind of thing you’re typically used to hearing from a property rep. Then she adds, “We already have five.” Oh, now it makes sense. The Beehive State is blessed with so many natural expanses that a place as breathtaking as 7,400-acre Snow Canyon has to be relegated to “state park” status.
Well-heeled travelers who lace up for the annual trek to Southwestern Utah’s Red Mountain know all about the wonderment found in and around its boundaries. The 82-room, 24-suite property, which is an adobe-inspired, 50-plus-acre beauty in its own right, offers the entrance to Snow Canyon only a quarter of a mile down the road and sees the beloved Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks all within comfortable drives. Heck, even the Grand Canyon’s north rim is only about 160 miles away. Needless to say, outdoor adventure opportunities are to be had in nearly every direction. But even though the resort welcomes hikers and canyoneers with open-arm harnesses, it has more than plenty of places for foodies, yoga fanatics and folks merely in need of de-stressing, too.
Take in the sights
Ivins, Utah, is pretty darn remote. In order to get there, you have to first fly into Salt Lake City or Denver and take a commuter plane to the 3-year-old St. George Municipal Airport. (You could drive two hours from Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport as well.) From St. George, it’s a 30-minute drive on Red Mountain’s prompt shuttle to the resort. But being removed from the grind is kind of the point, though. If you just wanted a side of convenience with your kickboxing class, you could have gone to the place around the block from your house. Besides, being semi-off-the-radar affords you undisturbed views of stunning red rock canyons and sensational blue skies that only certain parts of the Southwest can provide. But don’t worry—when the itch for civilization hits, you can find a Dairy Queen a few minutes away.
Nosh on fresh, healthy fare
Do us a favor: Don’t mention burgers or fries when you’re around chef Chad Luethje. The approachable toque, who has supervised stoves in Jackson Hole (Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa) and Tucson (Miraval Resort & Spa), grew up to vegetarian parents, and runs a meticulous kitchen at Red Mountain that has a focus on freshness and flavor. “I was exposed to some of the basic cornerstones of this type of [cooking] early on,” says the man who captains the Canyon Breeze Restaurant, which does buffet-style breakfast and lunch, while offering about seven or eight entrée options on its dinner menu. Chef Luethje partners with area farmers for vegetables, herbs and meats, and he deals with a select group of environmentally conscious fishermen for daily catches. (During our stay, temperatures inched above 90 F one night, so Luethje’s team got its hands on some melons and created a delightfully refreshing watermelon soup.) We can’t promise that this fruity starter, the scrumptious sweet potato pancakes or even the Hawaiian yellow fin tuna will be on the ever-evolving menu when you visit; if either are, you’ll want to make sure to save room on your plate.
Facilities with flair
As if carved from the very rock they neighbor, the buildings that make up Red Mountain Resort have a warmth and outdoorsy charm about them. Back in the 1970s, the property served as a vegan health camp, so older (but well-maintained) structures do exist. Newer areas, such as living quarters named after local critters such as armadillos, elk and turtles, certainly blend into the scenic aesthetic; but on the interior, you’ll find limestone in the bathroom, fireplaces and wall-mounted TVs in the bedroom and other splashes of luxury. Sagestone Spa & Salon is 8,000 square feet of exhilaration. Take the spiral staircase down from the lobby to a land of muted hues, floor-to-ceiling windows and Red Rock Hiker’s massages that will leave you in a state of desert blissfulness. Canyon Breeze Restaurant, Canyon Counter snack shop, the wellness center and gift shop complete a resort that’s walkable without feeling cramped. Should the need for a sit-down arise, though, Red Mountain’s hammock-to-guest ratio is one of the most impressive we’ve seen in some time.
Service with a smile
Another exceptional Red Mountain quality is the cordiality of its team. Many Utahns walk with an air of kindness and accommodation anyway, but the staff here goes beyond even that. You know that aforementioned massage? Well, Peggy owns those gifted hands. And though there won’t be any unnecessary chatter during your actual treatment, before and after your service she’ll make you feel as if you’re the only person on her schedule. Back at Canyon Breeze, you’ll encounter a waiter named Kelton, if you’re lucky. He’s a merry young man in glasses. After he asks the requisite bread-or-no-bread question, he’ll inquire about your day—no, really, he’ll ask about the kayaking trip you took that afternoon that you only briefly mentioned to him the day before. But he isn’t the only one—the bartender, the woman peddling wool socks at the shop and Holly, your kayaking guide, make the visit a personable one.
Mother Nature’s embrace
GM Welsh says the resort’s visitors break down to 65 percent women and 35 percent men. That’s a stat we find pretty head-scratching, seeing as how Nordic walking, horseback riding and cardio classes speak to both sexes. Still, the aspect of the resort and town that should align most with guys is the love of the outdoors. How could more gents not want to swim at lovely Sand Hollow Reservoir or trek about Zion National Park? With the latter, especially, many of its trails are nothing short of mythical slithers of earth. By the time you make your way up Angels Landing’s strenuous 2.4-mile path, squirrels will be scampering at your feet and falcons will be gliding above. One gaze across the fir- and pine-speckled landscape and you’ll instantly see why the resort’s twice-a-day hikes are always full. On top of that, you’ll have a better understanding as to why more and more people are making the extra effort getting to Southwestern Utah to begin with.
Photos Courtesy of Red Mountain Resort and DeMarco Williams