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Redefining Sustainable Luxury Travel

Joe Ogdie, General Manager, The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection

The millennial generation, the biggest in US history, is poised to reshape the economy. Millennials, more than previous generations, are making travel a priority. According to AARP's 2019 Travel Trends Report, "in 2019, the average millennial (ages 21 to 37) plans on taking roughly five trips throughout the year, three of which are expected to be international. That is more international trips than Gen X (ages 38 to 53) and more overall trips than Baby Boomers (ages 54 to 72).

Their appetite for unique experiences has transformed how luxury resorts cater to guests in 2020 and beyond. Gone are the days where travelers are only looking for a place to sleep, they are increasingly seeking out authentic and enriching experiences to take home with them. According to The Deloitte study, "Winning the Race for Guest Loyalty," millennials highly value exclusive experiences more than other groups, with 66 percent of polled millennials indicating that unique experiences matter, compared with just 50 percent of travelers in all other age groups.

The millennial generation is also most apt to seek out sustainable travel options, according to Virtuoso's 2018 Luxe Report. As more travelers are seeking out sustainable travel, resorts are increasingly implementing eco-friendly practices and experiences to impress the modern-day guest. If hotels and resorts want to stay competitive in today's landscape then they must acknowledge their wider impacts on the environment and what they can do to be more than just sustainable.

While The Lodge at Blue Sky offers the signature trademarks of a luxury eco-friendly resort, like glass bottles instead of single-use plastic and an on-site water treatment facility – which treats water from Alexander Creek that runs through the center of the property – the resort takes sustainable a step further by offering guests outdoor experiences for every season, designed to connect and educate them about the land they visit.   

At The Lodge at Blue Sky, Auberge Resorts Collection, the resort's entire ethos is focused on reconnecting people with the natural environment through immersive activities, special dining experiences, events and wellness pursuits without sacrificing luxury. Located on a 3,5000-acre ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range just outside of Park City, Utah, guests are immersed in a relaxed Western lifestyle and encouraged to reconnect with the outdoors while being stewards to the land. Guests can travel deep into the heart of Blue Sky with experiences led by Lodge at Blue Sky's expert guides, fitness instructors, and artists. From live music and mediation to breathwork and stargazing, daily classes and events will help travelers reach the apex of relaxed mountain life.

From the moment guests arrive, we want them to be immersed in the natural beauty of the land and make it easy for them to explore. No matter the season, Lodge at Blue Sky offers outdoor experiences from horseback riding through private trails that wind through fields of alpine sagebrush, fly fishing on miles of private waters, or shooting the 18-stand sporting clay course featuring biodegradable clays and paper casings for bullets. In the winter, cross-country ski miles of groomed trails, and take in backcountry skiing and cat skiing experiences directly on Lodge at Blue Sky's estate.

Guests can also explore Blue Sky on foot using our extensive trail system. The trails lead to remote mountain vistas like the Mountain Library and the Historic Blue Sky Tavern. We offer guided hikes where guests will learn about the fascinating local flora, fauna, geology and history of the region. Or guests can use the Blue Sky Trail Map to navigate the trail system independently. Hiking poles, maps, compasses and GPS are available for guests to use for self-guided exploration of the extensive alpine trail system. For those looking to add to their workout, Lodge at Blue Sky offers a hike and yoga experience where you will hike for an hour through quiet forests, expansive vistas and local wildlife before arriving at the perfect setting for a rejuvenation yoga session in the fresh mountain air.

Whether guests are going on one of our curated adventures or spending inside their room, we want them to connect with the land. That's why Blue Sky's 16 Earth Suites are built to be a natural extension of a lush hillside. These luxurious one-bedroom suites are located in Earth House, located within a three-minute walk from the Sky Lodge and Edge Spa. Guests enjoy spacious accommodations and spend more time connecting with nature by unwinding in the outdoor rain shower and lounging by the fireplace on the large terrace.

The Edge Spa at Blue Sky, named for its dramatic location perched on the side of a dramatic precipice overlooking Alexander Creek, is also designed to bring the outdoors in. A wellness sanctuary like no other, the Edge Spa boasts a serene relaxation pool overlooking Alexander Creek for guests to enjoy before or after their restorative treatments. Five treatment rooms house regionally inspired treatments and products which feature natural, bloom-to-bottle ingredients, some of which have been grown or wild-harvested on-site. Mindfulness pursuits, such as yoga and guided meditation are enjoyed in the Movement Studio or out in a remote natural alpine location.

For those looking to learn about agritourism, Lodge at Blue Sky offers guests the opportunity to spend a day on our on-site farm, Gracie's Farm, where they experience the life of a farmer. Guests will meet with our farm team and learn about nurturing the soil, planting seed, transplanting young vegetables, and harvesting the tender greens, baby root vegetables and flowers that make our farm so special.

The day progresses with farm chores, including irrigating crops, hoeing and cultivating the soil, transplanting vegetables into the ground, and planting seeds in the greenhouse, and of course, harvesting.  Gracie's Farm uses a no-till method to help preserve soil quality and instead circulates different animals through the farm to feed in different areas and on different crops which preserves the integrity of the produce and soil.

After guests get their hands dirty, they break for lunch, consisting of freshly harvested produce and locally sourced ingredients. Over lunch, guests will have the opportunity to dine with the farmers as they share real, gritty stories of what it took to start and manage Gracie's Farm, how we are different in our growing practice, how we manage our high mountain climate, and the importance of soil integrity. After a day of reconnecting with the land, we hope guests will leave with a deeper appreciation of where their food comes from. Armed with the tools from Gracie's farmers, our hope is people become inspired to begin growing their own food once they arrive home.

Growing your own food is not only a healthy alternative but kind to the environment. Long-distance transportation of produce to your local grocer relies heavily on fossil fuels and has a large carbon footprint. By growing your own fruits and vegetables you also avoid harmful pesticides or chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

By having our own on-site farm we can provide guests and locals a true farm-to-table dining experience at our signature restaurant Yuta. Helmed by James Beard Award-winning Executive Chef Galen Zamarra, Yuta offers an inspired menu of refined mountain cuisine utilizing storied, sustainably sourced seasonal heirloom ingredients. Yuta's menu draws inspiration from a deep reverence for the land and the many cultures that have passed through this lush mountain region. Reducing Yuta's carbon footprint, Chef Zamarra works in tandem with Lynsey Gammon, Blue Sky's Farmer, to utilize ingredients grown at Gracie's Farm including organic eggs, green veggies, herb, wildflowers and honey.

Not only does Blue Sky have an onsite farm, but we are also home to Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation, a horse-rescue sanctuary founded by The Lodge at Blue Sky's owner Barb Philips in 2014. To date, Saving Gracie Equine Healing Foundation has rescued a total of 24 horses, found some of them new homes, and provide most of them permanent sanctuary at Gracie's Farm. The Lodge at Blue Sky is the only luxury guest ranch in North American that employs their own, full-time on-site vet to ensure that their special animals get the care and attention that they deserve. Guests are invited to visit Gracie's Farm, where you'll get the opportunity to connect with the animals that call Gracie's Farm home including rescue horses, cows and chickens.

Saving Gracie's takes on animals with physical and emotional trauma that no other horse rescue foundation can, due to our exemplary resources for critical care. We treat our animals based on their individual physical, emotional and energetic needs which includes acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic work, onsite x-ray services, solarium treatment, therapeutic laser treatment, therapeutic podiatry, CBD oil treatment, dental work and more. Saving Gracie has a strong partnership with CSU for animals with advanced medical needs to ensure that the animals receive the most advanced medical care possible for optimal rehabilitation.

At The Lodge at Blue Sky, we are hopeful through our life-enriching experiences our guests will leave with a deeper appreciation for the great outdoors and relaxed Western lifestyle.

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