Most promotions and publications listing sites and attractions in Utah County or along the Wasatch Front mention Sundance Resort and owner Robert Redford in the same sentence - and often in the same makeshift title, as in Robert Redford's Sundance Resort.
Even in the resort's own promotional brochures, the film actor and director is given prominent play in both word and photo.The Redford-Sundance connection is (pardon the pun) a natural. However, the main attraction is the mountain resort and not the man, so Sundance visitors expecting to be greeted upon arrival by the owner-actor - like Mickey Mouse making a daily Main Street appearance at Disneyland - are apt to be disappointed.
Sundance General Manager Brent Beck says the two names - Sundance and Redford - are rightfully synonyms of sorts, with Redford having lived in the shadows of Mount Timpanogos for some 25 years and having been sole resort owner for two decades. "It is his. What you see and smell and hear here is him. . . . He's involved in every aspect."
And that involvement often includes being visible. "He's very visible when he is here," says Beck, "and he's not bothered by it."
Redford's participation at the resort - his "community for the arts" - ranges from riding the ski lifts to introducing a symphony at a Sundance performance and from enjoying a meal at his Tree Room restauarant to presiding over functions
stemming from his film-related institutes - the Sundance Institute for Film and Television and the Institute for Resource Management.
Redford, his Sundance resort, his institutes - it's a multifaceted draw for marquee-type names. The guest register for one recent weekend alone included the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel, not to mention a Japanese contingent filming documentary footage.
And then there are those who comprise the Sundance "regulars" - such as Paul Newman, Sydney Pollack and Karl Malden.
However, with Provo Canyon and even the state of Utah itself far from any major metropolitan areas, Sundance isn't a place that attracts hordes of fans and autograph-seekers, "although you do get a few like that," admitted Beck.
He prefers not to discuss the clever - or stupid - stunts some attempt to gain an unwelcome audience with Redford or any of the notable guests, saying that mention might breed copy-cat acts.
Because of his movie star persona, Redford "has to be guarded."
One recent example: A North Caroline woman filed suit earlier this year in 4th District Court against Redford and his Sundance-related development corporations, claiming to have been evicted from her resort accommodations last January.
With $65,000 in total damages being sought, the lawsuit says the woman's eviction followed accusations by Sundance employees that she was a threat to resort guests and had made "upsetting and threatening comments" about Redford, including the accusation she "was determined to marry Robert Redford."
Sundance officials have filed a response denying the allegations.
According to Beck, Sundance employees - many of whom are students from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah - are drawn not to the resort owner and his reputation but to Sundance's environment and atmosphere.
But the employees aren't totally immune to the Redford mystique. When Redford requested a pair of boots be sent to him while directing the movie "The Milagro Bean Field War" in New Mexico, one employee involved in the packaging process noticed a pair of socks stuck inside the boots. Redford now worries about one less pair of socks, while the worker with the purloined socks was said to be the envy of some of her employee peers.
Lawsuits, lifted socks and other such incidents are all offshoots of having a VIP - Very Illustrious Personality - as the high-profile owner of a 4,300-acre resort.
No wonder, then, that one magazine editor calls Redford's influence at Sundance a dashing elegance of style. William Sertle of "Travel and Leisure" magazine, which named Sundance as the trendiest spot to ski this winter, said "and, of course, Robert Redford lives there - that gives it some sort of panache."
Instead, Beck prefers to label the resort as a reflection of Redford. "Sundance is part of the man and it speaks of him."