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At Red Ledges, the “Director of Fun” keeps members active, engaged and smiling

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Red Ledges offers group activities for its members that range from quiet book clubs to thrilling biking and skiing excursions

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Red Ledges

As the Director of Fun at Red Ledges, Stephanie Potempa’s days range from leading hikes around the gorgeous Heber Valley to organizing community events such as dances or Fourth of July festivities.

Her job title says a lot, but the fact that Red Ledges has such as position on its staff says even more about the type of lifestyle it encourages for its residents.

One of the biggest philosophies in Potempa’s “Fun” department is to offer a variety of different activities for members, she said.

“Not everyone wants to mountain bike or sit around and play bridge, so we make sure to offer a lot of different things,” she said. “From workout classes such as yoga, boot camp and pilates, to outdoor things like fly-fishing casting clinics, hiking, biking and sailing — we want to make sure we have something to offer for every resident.”

Meeting neighbors

Summer fun often includes group hikes or bike excursions, and members ski together at Deer Valley on Wednesdays and Thursdays during winter.

“We have private access with the Deer Crest Club in the St. Regis — our members are able to go up there and access the mountain that way,” Potempa said. “On Wednesdays, we meet early for ‘Rippin’ Wednesdays,’ and on Thursdays we meet at noon for ‘Cruiser Thursdays’ — for the people who want to start a little later when it warms up.”

These more established, popular activities have a solid turnout week after week, but Potempa is always looking for new ways to keep Red Ledges members active, engaged and socializing. She promotes the activities through social media, the online community calendar and through email blasts.

“I’m definitely away from the desk more than I’m at it, which is great for our residents,” she said.

With fun in mind, suggestions are welcomed

Not every activity involves outdoor recreation, although it’s easy to see why those activities are so popular in the beautiful Heber Valley. Potempa said there’s a book club at Red Ledges, as well as groups who get together to knit, play bridge or pickleball.

Summer activities are especially family- and- kid-friendly, such as arts-and-crafts or scavenger hunts. Winter activities include some of the above mentioned indoor activities, as well as plenty of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and alpine skiing or snowboarding, of course.

With such an extensive list of activities available, Potempa still loves it when members suggest new ideas. She recently helped plan a community dance at the suggestion of a member. More than 60 people turned out for the occasion, which included a live DJ and an outdoor dance floor.

“Our members are what makes my job so fun,” Potempa said. “They’re good people who want to get out and stay active and meet their neighbors. They’re building a community here where people want to come out and do things together.”

Luxury living meets outdoor adventure

Nestled into a colorful hillside and valley adorned by mountain views, red rocks and spectacular sunsets, Red Ledges is a Heber Valley oasis where two Utah-raised Fortune 500 CEOs turned family land into a family-focused, private luxury community.

The Red Ledges development celebrated its 10-year anniversary in October 2017, but the vision for this community began more than 40 years ago when founding partner Tony Burns began accumulating the land. About 30 transactions later, the project came to fruition on about 2,000 acres of total land that’s also now home to an 18-hole championship Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and 12-hole golf park, equestrian center, tennis club, swimming pool, spa and other luxury amenities.

In just the first three months of 2018, Red Ledges closed $13 million in real estate deals — more than double of any of its first-quarter totals over the last nine years. The success is a testament to the vision Burns had four decades ago for this exclusive residential community.

The developers of Red Ledges have roots in the region, some going back generations, making it feel more like a shared community vision than a real estate development.

“The love of the land and the beauty of what it all has in store is something that drew us here,” Burns said of the development team. “This isn’t a group
of investors that came in from out of town that want to maximize their dollar for a year or two and then take all of the capital and go somewhere else — we’re embedded here.”

The setting

The Heber Valley, just down the Wasatch range from Park City, is a breathtaking valley with a diverse landscape. For anyone who enjoys the outdoor lifestyle in the Mountain West, it’s a location that truly offers something for everyone.

“Here at Red Ledges, we never really wanted to do things the biggest or the most expensive, but what we wanted to do is we wanted to be real,” said Mitchel Burns, chief operating officer at Red Ledges. “We wanted to be in touch with the land and with the mountains and in the environment.”

The architecture throughout Red Ledges speaks to that authenticity, he added, thanks to careful planning for how they’ll fit in with the natural landscape. The golf course blends in with the natural surroundings, using native grasses and 100-year-old Utah Juniper trees that the developers relocated around the property in order to preserve them.

“Even when it came to laying out the cart path, I made a decree: ‘Thou shall not touch a tree.’ So, our cart paths are very windy because they wind in and out of all the trees,” Mitchel Burns said.

Respecting the setting and all of nature’s beauty isn’t something all developers consider, but it was a necessity for the team behind Red Ledges. Tony Burns said the ultimate success of the project over the long-term is directly related to its protection of the environment.

The lifestyle

The Park City area is full of passionate residents who’d rather hit the trail than hit the couch.  Those folks certainly find a happy home at Red Ledges.

Red Ledges’ winter activities include skiing at nearby Deer Valley, whose Jordanelle express gondola is about 15 minutes from the community’s gates, or residents can opt for a more lung-burning cross-country ski at yet another Olympic venue – the Heber Valley’s Soldier Hollow.

In the summertime, options are practically limitless, with highlights including hiking, biking — both mountain and road — hunting, fishing and horseback riding. Plus, Red Ledges’ Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course was named “Best New Private Course in America” by Golf Magazine when it debuted in 2009.

“We wanted Red Ledges to be kind of that base camp and we wanted to provide that kind of luxury offering and take something that’s the wild wilderness and the rugged West, but give it to you with a little bit of a luxury setting so that you have a base camp to operate out of,” Mitchel Burns said.

Red Ledges offers an activities coordinator who leads residents on various activities. She’ll ski with members twice a week in the winter and lead hikes on various trails, including up Mount Timpanogos, in the summer. The activities coordinator can also arrange guided fly-fishing trips, snowmobile adventures, ski boat rentals or any excursion for which residents are interested.

The amenities

While the most alluring amenity at Red Ledges is simply its location, the developers left no stone unturned in providing other luxuries for its residents. Those things have gradually increased over time as more and more homes have been built within the community.

Mitchel Burns said they didn’t want to build every amenity upfront because there weren’t enough people living there yet to bring life to those activities. Now, as the community has grown over the past 10 years, more and more things are coming on board. This year, for example, a new Village Center is opening up featuring a resort-style pool complex and casual dining.

“We’ve got a lot of family activities going on,” Tony Burns said. “We just don’t want to be a second home where you come in for a day or two every few months and no one knows you and there’s nothing to do, we want it to be where you bring your children and your grandchildren.”

A new spin on clubhouse dining

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Red Ledges aims to be place where everybody knows your name

Written By Anna Moore
Staff: Park Record contributor

“Sorry to interrupt, but Mrs.Taylor would like the salad you made her yesterday,” says a soft-spoken server at the Juniper Grill of Red Ledges Clubhouse.

Although Daniel Thompson, the restaurant’s head chef, serves more than 500 members of the private community, he remembers each ingredient in Mrs. Taylor’s special salad and lists them off.

“Yes, I remember she’s on a diet, make sure there’s absolutely no cheese,” says Thompson, who prides himself on remembering his patron’s tastes.

Although clubhouse dining can carry a reputation for being boring and uninspiring, Thompson and his staff aim to never stop improving and personalizing the Juniper Grill menu. At the age of 33, Thompson is in his 10th season at the golf-centric private community in Heber City, and constant innovation is the main ingredient in his success.

Born in Panama City, Florida, (a.k.a. the Redneck Riviera) Thompson was raised on buttery grits, hand-picked tomatoes and catfish fresh from the pond. As a child, his mother taught him how to cook Southern comfort food with love. To this day, his mother’s yellow squash still tastes like home.

When Thompson traded Florida sand for Utah snow in 2009, Red Ledges was still under constriction. It’s hard for him to believe that he “began cooking out of a trailer on the golf course,” as he sits in the swanky dining room of the Juniper Grill, overlooking the Wasatch mountains.

In this increasingly mechanized world, Thompson is passionate about taking the time to personalize service. By greeting guests by name, they feel like an “extension of family,” he said. It’s important because, “my kitchen is their dining room,” he added.

Each year, 50 to 60 percent of the Juniper Grill’s dishes are tweaked to keep the flavors fresh and members enticed. Making traditional dishes fit into the outdoor lifestyle of club members is key.

“Our house burger is actually in a wrap, so guests can take easily take it golfing,” Thompson says.

He said 95 percent of what is served is made on sight, or sourced locally. The kitchen buys produce from Lee’s Grocery Store down the street, and Pierre French Bakery in Salt Lake delivers fresh bread each morning.

Another way Red Ledges aims to innovate clubhouse dining is by holding special programs and themed dinner parties. Whether it’s a Saint Patrick’s Day party with green beer and corned beef, or a sampling of curries from around the world, there’s always a reason to celebrate food. Last Fourth of July, for instance, Thompson traded his kitchen garb for a Colonel Sanders costume while preparing a fried chicken picnic for 600 guests.

“Guests love a reason to get together in costume,” he says. “It’s just a fun place to be.”

Peering out onto the frosted peak of Mount Timpanogos, the lunch crowd at the Juniper Grill quietly chats and clinks their salad forks to their white plates. There’s a calm welcomeness that permeates the room.

“Dining is about enjoying the finer things in life,” says Thompson as he sits among the sunny tables. “It could be a PB and J as long as it makes you feel good.”