If you are over 21 and have visited Sun Valley once or spent your whole life here, chances are, you have memories of time spent at the Sun Valley Lodge’s elegant watering hole, the Duchin Lounge, commonly known as the Duchin Room.
With the fabulous, imminent renovation of the iconic Lodge, the Duchin Room will close its doors until next June this Sunday night, August 31. But the doors are not closing quietly! From 8:30 p.m. until midnight the Duchin Lounge will host a big party featuring some of the best live music anywhere. The legendary Joe Fos Trio will delight the audience with stylings that draw fans from all over the world. Favorites Paul Tillotson and Brooks Hartell will also keep the jazz going as drinks are poured and the new era of the Sun Valley Lodge is toasted.
Revel in the tradition that started when the Lodge was first built more than 75 years ago. When Sun Valley was just taking shape as the preeminent year-round resort in America, Marjorie Oelrichs Duchin was hard at work envisioning interiors to welcome the notable guests she knew would flock to rural Idaho once the resort was built. Wife of famed bandleader Eddy Duchin, Majorie created a colorful, simple and comfortable environment. Sun Valley visionary Averell Harriman was so pleased with her efforts, he honored her by naming the bar just off the main lobby in her honor. Bet you thought it was named for her husband. I know I did!
From that time on, the Duchin Room became a favorite gathering place for all the beautiful people – whether they were from Hollywood or just down the road. In the ensuing years, the lounge gone through numerous incarnations, sometimes incorporating a restaurant, other times acting primarily as a bar, but it was always a central part of the Sun Valley experience.
I have many fond memories of the Duchin Room. In the winter, it is the perfect place to gather with friends après ski to compare runs, enjoy a toe-warming coffee drink (Frangelico is my favorite) and listen to live music. In the summer, I have spent many a night sipping drinks like the signature “Stumbling Islander,” (described as “a Mai Tai on steroids) on the Duchin deck admiring the figure skaters and just taking in the beautiful environs. Many special birthday parties have started or ended in the Duchin Lounge as have celebrations of every stripe. If you want to go somewhere where you are just as welcome in ski boots as stilettos, this is the place. My particular favorite spot to survey the scene was the high booths in the back of the room. This perch offered a great view of the entire room and a lot of privacy
I am not certain what the “new” Duchin Room will look like when it reopens June 2015, but it is sure to be elegant, comfortable and true to its long history
Let’s raise a glass to the Duchin Room and all the memories that have been created there. But even grande dames occasionally benefit from a little facelit and I look forward to seeing how the Duchin Room emerges after the spring.
And don’t worry. The Ram Bar at the Sun Valley Inn will remain open and pouring the best libations all fall, winter and spring. This warm, comfortable room offers a different feel than the Duchin but it a wonderful place to sip and savor the Sun Valley experience.