Although Aspen is the most publicized summer retreat for Houstonians seeking to beat the heat, Park City, Utah, is quietly making its own name. Only a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City's airport, with a casual down home vibe, a wide range of real estate pricing and an endless array of summer activities, this town of less than 10,000 full-time residents attracts more Houstonians who visit or own second homes than does Go Texan Day.
Close to 100 Houstonians were on the coveted invitation list, including a large golfing group from The Woodlands and members of the Houston Symphony board.
Park City is chock full of Houstonians (and Texans for that matter) who visit the area's many ski areas (Park City's Deer Valley is ranked as nation's No. 1 ski resort) during the winter, only to return for longer visits in the summer.
Houstonians Janet and Graham Baker first visited Park City in 1999 for a ski vacation, and were wowed by the friendliness of the people and the quaintness of the town. When Graham retired from ExxonMobil in 2006, the couple decided that Park City was the ideal place to indulge their passions for skiing, golf and other outdoor activities, and to provide a gathering place for family and friends.
"Of course we love the tremendous variety of the ski slopes, but we also love the Sundance Film Festival, July 4th, the Park City Arts Festival, outdoor symphony performances — and of course the people. There is so much to love about Park City," Baker said.
In 2005, the Bakers hosted their first open house to coincide with the popular annual Park City Arts Festival. As Park City attracted more Houstonians, the Baker's open house has grown as more of their friends visit the town and bring their friends. This year close to 100 people were on the highly-coveted invitation list, which included a large golfing group from The Woodlands, former energy colleagues and members of the Houston Symphony board on which Graham serves.
Many visitors live but a block away from each other in Houston but only see each other in Park City, where the pace is slower and if you are from Houston you are instant friends. And if you are friends of the Bakers you are instantly friends of their friends.
Mingling with the crowd were Houston Symphony executive committee president Bob Peiser and wife Nancy, retired Exxon attorneys Susan Rowe and Al Galik, retired Shell attorney Lynda Irvine and her husband, Porter & Hedges' John Irvine, former Houstonians Millie and Allan Bradley, Cathy and Bob Grossman, Joe Cleary, Linda and Phil Pace, Betsy and Ed Goldstein, John Mann, Mark Tressler and Paul Taylor.