The Lodge at Blue Sky in Utah combines immersive back-to-nature experiences with a conservation-minded ethos. Here’s why you need to explore this place. By Lila Harron Battis

The water rippled as the wind picked up on the pond. I flicked my rod, watching the lure dance above the surface and back— straight into a tree. Henry Hudson, who oversees adventures for Blue Sky and bears no relation to the explorer of the same name, laughed it off and pointed across the shore. “See how the waves are going towards that bank? That’s your spot.” I trudged through the last dregs of snowpack and cast. Nothing. Stick. Nothing. Cattail. Nothing. Then resistance, a tug-of-war, and finally: a trout, iridescent and speckled. I was elated.

I texted my husband a photo—me grinning like a golden retriever, my fish slack-jawed and muscling against my grip, Henry Hudson smiling encouragingly over my shoulder—along with a message: “We have to move to Utah.”

Before this trip, I’d never given Utah much thought. I knew the big things: The Great Salt Lake. Arches and Canyonlands and Zion, which seemed like their own places somehow. Notable Utahn Tan France. Mormons, naturally. The state existed in my peripheral vision as a maybe-someday destination. But after a stay at The Lodge at Blue Sky, a new resort set on 3,500 acres near Park City, I was sold.

The property is the brainchild of Mike and Barb Phillips, who wanted to share their weekend retreat with the world. They launched Blue Sky as an adventure destination almost a decade ago, hosting heli-skiing and trail rides, weddings and corporate events. In 2017, they partnered with Auberge Resorts to bring their hotel vision to life. The lodge debuted in May with 46 rooms and suites, a restaurant, an expansive spa and pool, and all the activities of their original venture.

The Lodge at Blue Sky
A guided fly-fishing excursion at The Lodge at Blue Sky, in Utah.

I arrived via helicopter—you could just drive in, but if you have the option to make an entrance, I say go for it—and as we descended, we spotted a herd of elk. The animals weren’t doing much besides standing dumbly, chewing and staring up at us, but I was awed. Coming from a place where the wildlife is mainly limited to pigeons and rats, I found the sheer density of animal life—there are also coyotes, moose, and eagles—thrilling.

The wonder of Blue Sky doesn’t reveal itself immediately. The landscape, while beautiful, lacks the showy, epic quality of Yellowstone or Moab that makes your breath catch in your throat. But the air smells like sage, and the lodge cocoons you in the comfort of little luxuries. In my room, I was greeted by a tableau of house-made snacks—jerky, maple- candied bacon, chocolate bark—and Old-Fashioneds made with whiskey from High West Distillery, just up the road. Each night, some bauble appeared: a shoe from a horse I’d ridden, a bundle of dried sage picked on the property.

Blue Sky is the rare place where everything is done a certain way merely because that’s how things should be done.

The Phillipses run it as a wildlife sanctuary, and an on-site farm serves as a refuge for downtrodden livestock: steers cast off by dairy farmers; horses saved from abuse, now spoiled with organic carrots; even rescue chickens. When complete, the farm will host a kids’ programme and supply produce to the kitchen. You’ll find all the hallmarks of an eco-friendly resort, like glass instead of plastic, but there are subtler gestures, too: on the sporting clay course, the ammunition is imported, since shells with biodegradable wadding are a rarity in the US.

The Lodge at Blue Sky
The lodge’s 22 Earth Suites are built into the side of a hill.

I stayed in one of the five Creek Houses, standalone suites overlooking Alexander Creek. It was bright and breezy, with a fireplace, wood panelling, and an accent wall made of stone quarried nearby. A carved relief map of Blue Sky hung in a corner, the creek slicing through in a ribbon of copper. Outside, the terrace was just the right size for, say, a cowboy cookout of fresh-caught rainbow trout with white asparagus and fry bread. You can fish from your backyard for Bonneville cutthroat, a native trout.

Fourteen-foot-high windows ran the length of the southwestern side of the suite, and when I opened them, the sound of rushing water filled the air. But with so many adventures at hand, the cosy rooms are merely a bonus. The lodge makes even rugged pursuits feel elevated. Shooting is done European-style: the instructors wear tweed and ties in lieu of camo. Trail rides start in a massive indoor arena, where you learn to curry, tack, and warm up your horse before setting out. Even my fly- fishing excursion culminated in a shore lunch with fur-draped chairs and tomato soup poured from thermoses. You’re shepherded by genial, attentive staffers, each of whom appears to have stepped out of a Patagonia catalogue.

One morning, I headed to one of the outbuildings for yoga. Mats were unfurled around a vignette of singing bowls, antlers, and crystals on a sheepskin. I felt my shoulders relax as instructor Rocky Lavoie alternated guidance with gentle guitar playing and soft singing, her voice ethereal and reassuring. Outside, the breeze in the aspens sounded like rain. My brain was quiet but for one flickering thought. I should really move to Utah.

GETTING THERE

One-stop flights to Salt Lake City, Utah are available from New Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru. The Lodge at Blue Sky is 65 kilometres west of Salt Lake City.

Guests can rent a car at the airport and drive to the resort, or the hotel can arrange transfers via car or helicopter. Doubles from INR 67,300.

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