Johnny Carson. Tom Cruise. Sylvester Stallone. The very mention of their names turns heads.

And when Utahns learn celebrities not only are visiting local ski resorts but are buying homes here as well, the interest level is piqued even more.While posh Deer Valley doesn't have the prestige of Aspen or Lake Tahoe, the area is attracting its share of the rich and famous.

It's not so much that Utah's a great place to seen. Conversely, it's a great place to fall out of sight for a while, says Janet Robson-Olch, Prudential Coleman real estate agent.

"People are looking for a much more private access. The locals here are used to celebrities and they don't harass them. All the people they (celebrities) see in Los Angeles or Hollywood are in Aspen and Vail. Really, these people just want to melt into the crowd," she said.

Robson-Olch recently sold a Deer Valley home to Johnny Carson, who purchased the home as Valentine's Day gift for his wife, Alex.

Celebrities come to the area for myriad reasons: its natural beauty, relative seclusion, but mostly its competitive real estate values.

"We're much lower than Aspen or Vail," Robson-Olch said. "We're selling $400,000 or $500,000 ski- access property compared to $700,000 to $1 million (at Colorado resorts). In the next few years, especially if we get the Olympics, we'll see the prices go up quickly."

Deer Valley isn't exclusively for celebrities. The CEOs of Fortune 500 companies interested in primary and secondary residences are buying homes and building lots in the area as well.

"A lot of people are tired of California, and it's only a half-hour drive out here (from Salt Lake International Airport). They don't want to raise their children in Los Angeles so they're building out here," she said.

After a day of skiing, many of the rich and famous return to their mountain homes instead of hitting the private clubs and beer bars for apres-ski socializing.

But others, such as Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone, have been seen in popular Park City haunts. Actor Robert Urich and sportscaster Dick Enberg are often seen carving up the ski slopes of Park City and Deer Valley.

"New Year's Eve you always see a lot of celebrities," she said.

Is Deer Valley becoming another Aspen?

"No, I don't think they're trying to become another Aspen," said Russ Veenema, executive director of the Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Deer Valley's goal, when it started 10 years ago, was to create an upscale resort experience that happened to have skiing along with that. They've done that with quality food service, quality employees and good guest services."

Utah resort properties used to be a hard sell to out-of-state buyers, mostly because of the state's peculiar liquor laws. But Robson-Olch said she believes attitudes about Utah have changed since the liquor laws have become more relaxed.

Still, the best advertising has been the personal assurances of friends and relatives who have visited the Beehive State.

"People bring their friends. We've seen a lot of people lately from Columbus, Ohio. It's a lot of referral business and word of mouth," she said.

Robson-Olch has sold real estate in the Deer Valley/Park City area for nine years. She said she believes the area has become particularly popular among the affluent the last three years. More and more people are buying primary residences in Deer Valley, although sales of secondary residences are more frequent. Buyers often pay cash and typically are not the type of consumers who would be discouraged by news reports about the recession.

"The main thing is, they're second homes. They don't need them, they want them," Robson-Olch said.