Thursday, March 28, 2019

Everything You Need To Know About Utah’s Famous Festival of Colors

The Holi festival, marked as one of the most colorful and joyful festivals in Hindu culture, is celebrated each year to bid farewell to the winter season and welcome spring. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of March – also known as the month of Phalgun in the Hindu culture.

In Utah, the festival is held each year at the Sri Radha Krishna Temple located in Spanish Fork. In addition to the crazy fun that accompanies the event, this temple is also fully welcoming to all people, regardless of their religion. Visitors are invited to throw a handful of colorful chalk (symbolizing worries) to the wind as they enjoy the event.

Here are some interesting facts you need to know about Utah’s famous Holi Festival of Colors.

Holi Festival Explained

The festival gets its name from Holika, a demoness sister of an evil king named Hiranyakashyap in the Hindu mythology. The legendary tale goes on to reveal that the evil king tried to forbid his son, Prahlad from worshipping Lord Vishnu. Prahlad, however, did not part with his faith and continued worshiping Vishnu.

In an attempt to get rid of his son, the villainous king ordered Holika (who was immune to fire) to enter the blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. The story goes on that the evil-minded Holika was reduced to ashes, but Prahlad was saved because of his extreme devotion to Lord Vishnu.

Since then, the Holi celebrations have prevailed to serve as a reminder that good triumphs over evil - which reflects the Hindu belief that faith and devotion lead to salvation, and can be attained by everyone who believes.

The colors used in the festival hold special significance. Red symbolizes love, fertility, and matrimony, blue represents Krishna, while green stands for fresh beginnings.

Utah’s Holi Festival Details

This year (2019), the Holi festival will be on the last weekend of the month - on 30th and 31st, consecutively. On Saturday the 30th, the event will be open from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., and from 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. on Sunday the 31st.

There’s an entrance fee of $5 per person. The entry fee for children below the age of 12 is absolutely free, so you can tag your little kid or sibling along, provided you keep a close watch on them.

The temple provides the guests with ‘chalk’ which is actually colored corn-starch. The chalk should not stain your clothes (provided you don’t get wet), but I would still advise against wearing your best clothes.

Five assorted vivid colors (green, pink yellow, violet, & orange) are available on the festival grounds at the cost of $3 per 100g bag.

The colors provided are not only environmentally friendly, but also brightly colored, and beautifully scented. The nature of the colors means that they are also risk-free to people allergic to powders (apart from the small percentage allergic to corn).

The color throws start from noon, following each hour afterward. Even as you get to enjoy yourselves, please refrain yourself from throwing colors directly into other’s people eyes or mouth.

In addition to chalk throwing, there are numerous other fun activities which include dancing, yoga, the lighting of a bonfire, musical interludes, burning of an effigy in between the color throws, and much more.

The Do’s and Don’ts

If you plan to indulge in the fun activities that are lined up this year, bracing yourself with some tips might just be what you need to get the most out of the event.

Generally speaking, this event is more of a spiritual event than a religious one. The festival is meant to remove barriers and recognize all as part of one big spiritual family. This might explain why the event is becoming so popular, with the audience reportedly increasing each year.

As these festivities draw locals across the entire state, the numbers can reach up to 40,000 or more in a single day. With the attention the Holi festivals in Utah have been receiving lately, we’ve also seen an increase in visitors flying from all over the world so as to be part of the event.

Tips to get the most out of Utah’s Holi Festivities

  • Do not wear eye contacts to the color event. If it is protective gear you are seeking, there’re plenty of bandanas, sunglasses, and dust masks offered at a throwaway price on the grounds.
  • The dry powder provided by the temple is stain free as long as it remains dry. Once in contact with water, the powder is highly likely to stain your clothes which is why you are advised against wearing your ‘best’ clothes. In short, bring along clothes that you are fine with being ruined.
  • If you have breathing problems such as asthma or have corn allergies, it is advisable you refrain yourself from delving deep into the crowd since it is where color throwing starts. 
  • Under no circumstances should you let your little ones wander deep into crowds alone. Make sure that they are well covered in protective gear also. If possible, carry them on your shoulders while delving deep into the crowd.
  • It may sound obvious, but make sure you refrain yourself from throwing colors at performers, musicians, passing cars, or the uniformed personnel as this could land you into unwanted trouble.

Things you should avoid doing at all costs

It is no secret that excitement can sometimes get the better of us, and we might end doing some things that we regret later. To ensure a smooth experience for you and others, make sure you refrain yourself from these acts.
  • Don’t bring outside colors as they will be confiscated on sight. The main reason why outside colors are not permitted is that they tend to threaten the existence of the festival altogether. Not all colors are friendly to the human skin, and the only way to guarantee that everyone stays safe is by sticking to the ones offered on the festival grounds.
  • Drugs, alcohol, and smoking are not permitted on the festival grounds.
  • Do not throw colors before the countdown ends, else, you will spoil the much-awaited fun.
  • Last but not least, refrain from violent acts. This should be a fun moment for all since no one has lesser rights to be there.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

9 Tips To Make Sure Guests Return To Your Bed And Breakfast

After continuous and successful marketing of your B&B, now comes the most difficult part: retaining your customers. With the stiff competition involved, you are likely to lose your guests once they get the slightest hint of unappreciation.

These 9 tips will earn you loyal guests that will always return to your bed and breakfast each and every time they are in the locale.

1. The First Impression Matters

When reviewing a B&B, one thing customers often comment about is their first experience when they arrived. Before their first meal and nap, how did you welcome them?

In most cases, it is your staff that makes the first contact with your guests. Make sure that they are aware of the importance of a good first impression. How you treat your guests, and how much help you will be to them the moment they set foot to your B&B matters a lot.

Also, what about the look and feel? It doesn’t necessarily need to be that complex, but you can try modifying the interior and exterior features to give the best possible look. Let your guests feel home whenever they set foot in your B&B.

2. Know Your Competitors

Know what your other competitors are doing and know what you are missing out on. How much are their charges? How comparable are yours with the services they offer to their guests?

The secret is offering your guests a deal that is better than those of your competitors. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to lower your prices, but you can try offering your services in the most satisfactory way.

Once you are comparable with your competitors' services, you will know where to make adjustments in your B&B. Also, it wouldn’t hurt going that extra mile to provide better services than those of your competitors.

3. Get To Know Your Guests On A Personal Level

Interacting with your guests on a personal level is not only entertaining to your guests but also shows that you actually care about them. The fun that comes with it will likely attract them in the future as it gives them a homey feeling.

It can be as simple as inviting your guests for a glass of wine or a cup of tea in the evening. In your conversations, show genuine interest and contribute by asking questions and giving suggestions and tips.

4. Exceed Your Guests’ Expectations

Always strive to offer above-average, and you will be surprised as to how fast things can shift in your favor. Exceed your guests’ expectations by offering them excellent service, and comfy accommodations.

Be part of their lives during their short stay with you and make sure they have an exceptionally good time. Surprise them with small gifts and a delicious breakfast. At the end of the day, it is the little extra things that you do to make your guests smile that matter most.

5. Understand Your Guests’ Needs

Before you are able to meet your guests’ needs, you must be well informed of what they are. Needs may fluctuate depending on the type of guest, but you can always pick up a thing or two by just interacting with them.

Avail yourself in your B&B, make personal contact, and listen to what your guests have to say. In most cases, you will be met by suggestions as to how you can tweak your operations to exceed your guests’ needs.

A better understanding of your guests’ needs means that you have a better chance of meeting their expectations. If done well, your guests will always find their way back to your B&B during their next trip to the area.

6. Train Your Staff

One way to guarantee a smooth experience for your guests is by ensuring that your staff has the level of experience needed. Give your staff appropriate training and provide them with tools and a favorable system that will help them meet your guests’ expectations.

If there’s one thing that is likely to cost you your guests, it is a poor customer service experience. The best way to curb this and shift odds in your favor is by ensuring that your staff training is great and up-to-date.

7. Give Your Loyal Guests VIP Treatment

Even while concentrating on getting new guests, don’t forget to cement your relationship with your loyal guests. Your guests will always find their way back to you, provided they are aware that their presence is appreciated.

Surprise them with VIP treatment on their next trip to your B&B and let them understand that you care about them. It can be as simple as a discount on their next stay, or an exquisite meal not offered on your menu.

If there’s one thing people love, it's being given special treatment, and your guests are no exception.

8. Make A Good Last Impression

As much as it might not be realized, the last impression your guests get on their way out influences their decision to return later. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that it is the freshest memory of their stay at your B&B – and if done well, results are a guarantee.

What most people don’t realize is that it is never enough until you’ve earned yourself a long-term guest. Even after earning their trust, you should go ahead to make their current experience better than their previous one.

A simple ‘Thank You’ can do – it is even better when specially written and given to them before their departure. Depending on the location of your B&B, you can gift your guests with a gift bag with necessities that might come in handy on their way back.

9. Remember To Keep In Touch

Even after their departure, make it a habit to always maintain contact with your guests. Contact them periodically, probably after a month or so, to remind them of your B&B and the offers or discounts you have lined up.

Make sure to blend in a friendly tone in your messages to give them the intended weight and warmth. With your B&B in their mind, there is always a good chance that they will come back, or refer somebody to you.

Even while interacting with your guests, it is important that you keep in mind that none will be alike. While some are quite interactive and easy going, others prefer their personal space. Regardless of their persona, always strive to provide them with an experience they are not likely to find anywhere else.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The 9 Best Snowmobiling Spots in Utah Valley

It is no secret that Utah is home to the greatest snow on earth. In addition, it also happens to have perfectly groomed trails, making it a perfect destination for those seeking a memorable snowmobiling adventure.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a beginner, an intermediate, or a pro, there are plenty of trails groomed to suit your riding experience. Even while not riding, there are thousands of acres of land to explore while enjoying the epic view of the mountains.

If you are a winter sports fan, make sure to check out the 9 best snowmobiling spots in Utah Valley:

1. Thousand Peaks

With over 60,000 acres of authentic background, Thousand Peaks is no doubt the largest mountain ranch in Utah. You get to enjoy exclusive access to more private terrain than all the other snowmobile companies combined!

Just a few minutes drive from Park City and you will get to explore some of the highest peaks, largest bowls, and the breathtaking views of the mountain tops. Its proximity to Park City also means that you have access to even more recreational activities.

Some of the snowmobile tours you can choose to explore from this spot include Rock Mountain Escape, Alpine Adventure, and the Epic Trip.

2. Cedar Mountain

Cedar Mountain provides snowmobilers with extensive well-marked trails with some of the most stunning scenery in Utah. Explore the more than 160 miles of groomed trails buzzing through pines and aspens while kicking piles of the fluffy snow in your wake.

This snowmobile complex has some of its trails leading to the breathtaking scenic view of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Some of the trails open for snowmobile use include the High Mountain, Brian Head, Cedar Breaks, Duck Creek, Sage Valley, Lars Fork, Strawberry Point, and the Navajo Lake trails.

3. Skyline Snowmobile Complex

The complex provides access to the Wasatch plateau which makes it a perfect spot to bring a family along. Its trails provide you with access to open riding opportunities rising above 10,000 feet.

Its location in Central Utah also means that you can enjoy generally uncrowded riding conditions with your loved ones.

You can choose to follow the groomed trail or glide through the open fields with plenty of fresh powder, and endless other opportunities.

Skyline Snowmobile Complex has its trails interconnecting with those in the Skyline South Complex and the Scofield Snowmobile Complex to the north.

4. Fish Lake Snowmobile Complex

With elevations close to 11,500 feet, the Fish Lake Snowmobile Complex provides trails with breathtaking winter scenery and access to more enjoyable play areas.

Fish Lake, a natural lake located at an elevation of 8,800 feet, has a maximum depth of 120 feet, and a surface area of approximately 2,600 acres. I would, however, advise you to take with you some extra food and fuel while exploring this spot as the services along its trails are limited.

You can access the complex by using either the Monroe Mountain, Sanledges/Mt. Terrill, or the Gooseberry/Fish lake Trails.

5. Mill Hollow Snowmobile Complex

This snowmobile complex interconnects with the popular Mirror Lake which is only about an hour drive from Salt Lake City. With the two combined, you will have access to more than 150 miles of groomed trails in the Uinta Mountains. Most of its trails have access to plenty of scenery and play areas to enjoy.

However, some of these trails can prove to be very treacherous and it is advisable you stay on the groomed trail or ride with an experienced guide, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Some of the common trails include the Co-op Creek, Nobletts, Wolf Creek, Soapstone, Daniels Loop, and the Strawberry River trails.

6. Logan Canyon Snowmobile Complex

The Logan Canyon Complex has 180 miles of well-groomed trails winding through the Wasatch-Cache National Forest allowing plenty of snowmobiling opportunities to its riders.

You also get to enjoy the plenty of services, scenic views, and plenty of riding opportunities the area has to offer. It is advisable you stick to your designated trails since this is a critical wintering area for wildlife.

The specific trails to this complex include the Temple Canyon, Sinks, Garden City, Amazon, Beaver Creek, Franklin Basin, and the Tony Grove trails.

7. Monte Cristo Snowmobiling

Located just a few miles east of Huntsville, a ride in Monte Cristo will take you through a breathtaking scenic area with views of the Curtis Creek, Ant Flats, and Hardware Ranch.

I would suggest the Curtis Creek/Ant Flat trail as it is flat, well groomed, and with tremendous views of Cache Valley. You will also find several areas along the trail lined up with trees that open up to spacious playing areas. Other popular trails to this complex include the Sinks and the Millie Springs trails.

Snowmobilers are advised to stick on the trails to avoid trespassing onto private properties.

8. Daniel Summit Lounge

These mountains provide a perfect environment – both for guided and unguided rides. The Daniel Summit lounge grooms more than 200 miles of trails ranging from easy family-friendly rides to challenging steep climbs rising close to 10,000 feet.

While at its summit, you get to enjoy a clear view of the valley below before descending back to the trailhead. You can rent your snowmobile from the Lounge’s large fleet of rental machines.

9. Wasatch Mountain Snowmobile Complex

In addition to the 70 miles of well-groomed snowmobile trails, the complex, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service also offers parking, restrooms, and play areas to its snowmobilers.

It also has a golf course that is closed to snowmobiling, but open to other recreational activities such as country skiing and snowshoeing.

Some of the popular trails to these complex include the Midway Reservoir, Snake Creek, Cummings Parkway, Mill Flat-Tibble Fork, Cascade Springs, and the Mutual Dell/Sundance trails.

Before embarking on any ride, make sure that you check with the local U.S. Forest Service offices for trail guides and travel maps for the areas you seek to explore. If you are unfamiliar with the terrain, you might also consider using a guide to help you.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

20 Fun Facts About Utah County

If you are a Utah County resident, there’s definitely plenty to be proud of. Not that the rest of Utah is boring, but there are fun and interesting things that make Utah County especially unique.

Here are 20 fun facts you should know about Utah County:

1. Utah County is the second most populous county in the State

As per the 2010 census, there were 140,602 households, 114,350 families, and 516,654 people residing in Utah. These statistics rank the county as the second most populous in the State.

2. Utah County is the 16th largest in area in the State

The U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the county has an area of 2,144 square miles (5,550 square km) placing Utah County as the 16th largest county statewide. Of the total square miles, 2,003 square miles (5,190 square km) are land while the remaining 141 square miles (370 square km) are water.

3. The county’s name originates from the Native American ‘Ute’ tribe

The State of Utah was created in 1850 and named after the Spanish name ‘Yuta’ from the Ute tribe which simply translates to ‘people of the mountains’ in English. The county is among the seven counties in the US to have the same name as their state. The other 6 include Hawaii, Idaho, Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, and New York. 

4. Provo, Utah is the County Seat

Located 43 miles (69 km) south of Salt Lake City, Provo is the third-largest city in Utah and the largest city in Utah County. This city also happens to be the County Seat (administrative center).

5. Utah County is home to approximately 20% of Utah’s population

Utah County holds 19.6% of Utah’s total residents. When merged with the Salt Lake County (with 36.7% of Utah’s population), the two counties make 56% of the total population of Utah.

6. Utah County is the fourth fastest-growing county in the country

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah County has grown by 17.4% since the 2010 census –ranking it fourth in terms of growth rate in the entire county. The other three fastest-growing counties include Wasatch, Morgan, and Washington counties.

7. Utah County is the youngest median age county in the State

The county has an average age of 24.4 making the county youngest in the entire state. It is followed by Cache County with an average age of 25. Utah County is also the sixth youngest county in the country, right behind the Chattahoochee County in Georgia.

8. The county has new population estimates of 606,425

According to new population data estimates released on July 1st, 2017, Utah County came in at 606,425. That is a 17.4% increase from the 2010 census data which recorded 516,654 total residents.

9. The first large manufacturing plant in Utah was based in Utah County

According to the Utah State Historical Society, Provo Woolen Mill was the first large manufacturing plant in Utah. Lehi in Utah county also happens to be home of the first large-scale sugar factory built in 1890.

10. The county has the 8th–highest median income in the state

Utah County has a median household income of $64,321 – ranking it eighth as the county with the highest median income in the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Summit County recorded the highest median household income of $91,470. Piute County registered the lowest median household income at $37,112.

11. Utah County records the lowest percentage of Veterans compared to other counties in the State

With 15, 285 veterans in Utah County, it equals to only 2.5% of the county’s total population – which is the lowest percentage in the entire state. The Cache and Wasatch counties follow with 3% and 3.1%, respectively.

Piute County recorded the highest percentage of veterans at 11.3%.

12. The county’s residents are more educated than the National average

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 87% of the nation’s adults over the age of 25 have graduated from high school. Utah County happens to record a higher national average at 93.6%. Statistics also reveal that 38.1% of Utah County residents have at least a Bachelor’s degree – compared to the 30.3% across the entire country, and 31.7% in the state.

13. 10.1% of Utah County’s residents are non-religious

Of the total population in Utah County, 88.1% are Churchgoers and 1.8% belong to other religions. The remaining 10.1% are non-religious.

14. Utah County is among the three most generous counties in philanthropic donations

Researches and reports on the charitable giving in the United States named Utah County as one of the most generous counties in philanthropic donations –alongside Madison, San Juan, and Idaho Counties.

15. The first JB's Big Boy was opened in Provo, Utah

Before you take your next trip to the Big Boy's Burger and Shakes for a hamburger, is it worth knowing that their first food restaurant was opened in Provo? Well, thanks to Provo and its residents.

16. Utah County is referred to as the most Republican County in the United States

Reports reveal that Utah County has only supported a Democrat for president nine times since Statehood. It has never supported a Democrat for president since the year 1964. All the six Senators of the county, as well as all the other 12 representatives, are all Republicans.

17. The county has three School Districts

Utah has three school districts namely Provo, Alpine, and Nebo. To overview its tertiary institutions, the county has two universities: Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University. It also has one technical college: the Mountainland Technical College.

18. The Hispanic or Latino Race accounts for the second largest population in Utah County

The Hispanic or Latino race accounts for 10.8% of the population in Utah County. The Caucasian race tops with 89.4%. The remaining population constitutes of 0.6% American or Alaska Native, 0.5% Black or African American, 0.8% Native Hawaiian, and 4.6% of other races.

19. A Boxing Match was once held at the bottom of Utah Lake

Of course, Utah Lake is now filled with water. But in 1935, there was a boxing match that was staged at the bottom of the dried up lake.

20. Springville City was initially called Hobble Creek

The early settlers used to call the now Springville City ‘Hobble Creek’ as horses would be hobbled and left by a nearby stream. ‘Hobbling’ simply means tying up with some mobility.