SUN VALLEY NUMBER 1SunValley-2
by ann zimmerman

SUN VALLEY SCORES ITS HIGH RANKINGS IN SKI MAGAZINE’S ANNUAL READERS’ POLL FOR 2016 AND IS POISED TO BE EVEN BETTER IN ITS 80TH WINTER SEASON WITH THE REOPENING OF THE LODGE AND NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO BRING EVEN MORE PEOPLE TO THE RESORT

Sun Valley has a way of modernizing and moving to the future but remembering to take along the best of the past. This year started strong for Sun Valley with the reopening of the Lodge and the headlines of first place in rankings by SKI Magazine. With better accommodations, inclusion in the Mountain Collective, more direct flights, and enhanced snowmaking, Sun Valley’s 80th season should be its best. The first winter destination resort in North America 80 years ago maintains its place as the finest.

“Sun Valley scored especially high in service,” reports Jack Sibbach, spokesman for the resort when asked about SKI Magazine’s number one ranking for overall customer satisfaction. “Kudos to our employees, the ownership, and really this entire area that is so hospitable to visitors.” Indications are that Sun Valley won’t be resting on its laurels.

LODGE REOPENS ITS DOORSSunValley-3

The Lodge renovation is the most recent example of how Sun Valley embraces change and growth while not losing what people love most about Sun Valley.  On June 15th, tours filled with enthusiasts anxious to see and appreciate the new Lodge. Present were the familiar high-quality fabrics, crafted woodwork, wall coverings, traditional furniture, sumptuous carpeting, warm colors, and patterns and artwork resonating natural themes.

The lobby is bright, open, and larger thanks to a 16-foot extension. Similar to home plans that no longer segment and block off living spaces, Gretchen’s Restaurant and Duchin Lounge connect visually to the rest of the lobby for one convivial space while preserving separateness and intimacy. For those like me who feared the beautiful black and white guest photos would be stored away after the remodel, there is good news: there are even more interesting historical photos lining the walls than before featuring famous faces enjoying their time at Sun Valley. Sibbach validated the increase. “There were 140 before, and now there are more than 250. The Holding family, Mrs. Holding and Stephen, personally sorted though boxes and file cabinets to make the selections.” In the new collection are interesting new photos of Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, and many others.

However, the bigger news about the remodel is the spaciousness of the guest rooms and baths, whose appointments rival the finest hotels, anywhere. With the Sun Valley’s Lodge’s renovation, there are 40 fewer rooms than before in the same space, and the new 108 suites benefit from a substantial addition of square footage. All have spa-like granite baths with both a shower and a soaking tub. The suites all feature a bedroom area and an adjoining sitting area with sofa foldouts, and some suites feature more living area and terraces. The five Celebrity Suites are each decorated according to a theme related to their namesake: Averell Harriman, Marilyn Monroe, Sonja Henie, Ernest Hemmingway, and Clint Eastwood.

As far as comfort, the entire Lodge is new with highly efficient heating, air conditioning, and infrastructure. Sun Valley Resort has received accolades for its environmental awareness, and this attention to conservation continued through the remodel. With 30,000-square feet of additional space, the Lodge uses less energy than before, says Sibbach.

The other big change is the 20,000-square-foot addition to accommodate the new spa, spacious fitness area, and salon with the adjacent outdoor saline pool and café with poolside service. Spa and Fitness Director Tiffany Cameron has established a wide array of services for the well appointed area, all designed to be at ease and relaxed. The spa offers massages with options for wraps, scrubs, and soaking tubs. The couple’s rooms are available for a romantic pair, and Tiffany has found it is also popular with bridal parties, mother and daughters, or friends. Guests at the hotel may also opt for in-room massage treatments. The salon is similarly full-service with hair styling, manicures, pedicures, and makeup consultation.

EXTENDING ACCESSIBILITYSunValley-4

More than one local has wondered with curiosity why more people haven’t discovered the Sun Valley Resort. However, with easier and more frequent flights and Sun Valley becoming part of the Mountain Collective, this may change.

This season, Sun Valley becomes one of the 11 resorts covered by the Mountain Collective Pass. Other resorts included are Alta-Snowbird, Aspen-Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Whistler-Blackcomb, Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows, Lake Louise-Sunshine Village, Stowe, Taos, and Thredbo (Australia). The pass covers two free days at each resort and fifty percent off passes for additional days, plus a special lodging discount. For Mountain Collective Pass holders seeking more far away adventure in addition to Australia, the pass covers two complimentary days at Hakuba Valley, Japan, and Valle Nevado, Chile. Information can be found at www.mountaincollective.com. Additionally, the Sun Plus Pass now has some Mountain Collective benefits, and the reciprocal arrangements some passes offer with Sugar Bowl and Snowbasin continue.

When asked about the best way to get a deal on lift tickets, Sibbach advises to buy at least seven days in advance of the date you’re planning to ski and buy directly at www.sunvalley.com.

The enhanced direct air service to Hailey is a game changer for skiers in urban areas. “For the San Francisco area, flying to Sun Valley is less than two hours—much quicker than driving to Tahoe,” comments Sibbach. Once at the Hailey airport, free complimentary transportation takes resort guests to Sun Valley and handy shuttles take them around the area, including the popular destinations in Ketchum. “There is no need to rent a car,” adds Sibbach.

Direct service offered by Delta, Alaska, and United Airlines flies to Hailey from Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. According to Sibbach, there will be a new flight this winter. “Delta will be adding a Saturday only direct fight from Los Angeles on February 13th.”

FAMILY FRIENDLINESSSunValley-5

Initially when SV opened its doors, newsreels featured glamorous and famous Hollywood faces against the backdrop of snowy Sun Valley, but now the faces of Sun Valley are families. The ski program has been building upon the focus on families for a number of years with ski education, and the winter play school/kinder school offers parents freedom to enjoy their day alone or with older children. Dollar Mountain has consistently added new activities with the terrain park, Super Pipe, and ski-cross courses. At Baldy, families can explore adventure trails together.

The new suites at the Lodge are designed for family comfort with the number of double queen suites and the foldout sofa beds in all the suites. “Definitely, being able to better host families was a major remodel goal,” confirms Sibbach. The retro-modern bowling ally at the Lodge is a great evening gathering place; the Opera House offers family films; and pizza, casual dining, and room service make meals a breeze.

This winter marks 80 years since Averell Harriman first opened the doors of the Sun Valley Lodge to unveil his daring new destination resort. Celebrate 80 years by visiting the resort. Ski, ride, cross-country ski, skate, and enjoy the lively musical entertainment and ice shows along with great adventurous dining, relaxing at the spa, and luxuriating in the accommodations.