New Year’s on Dollar

2014 started on a sunny high note for Sun Valley holiday-makers ringing in the new on Dollar Mountain. Slopes were filled with smiling faces on the first days of the New Year and family fun was the name of the game.

The Swanson and Gabbert families enjoyed an afternoon on Dollar's Tubing Hill

The Swanson and Gabbert families of Seattle enjoyed an afternoon on Dollar's Tubing Hill

Skiers and snowboarders honed their skills in lessons, navigated the new Prospector Park skill-building terrain area, hit the Family Cross Course, rode the rails and soaked up the sun and the beautiful views.

At the end of an exhilarating ride, the Swanson girls are ready for more

At the end of an exhilarating ride, the girls are ready for more

The Swanson family, visiting for the holidays from Seattle, came out for an afternoon of tubing with their three daughters and friends. As guests at the Resort, their condo was a short walk from Dollar’s slopes and they strolled over to enjoy the tubing course.

“It was a great way to spend the afternoon,” said mom Mari Swanson. “The kids had a terrific time and it was a nice break from skiing, but still a great way to be outside.”

The feeling on Dollar at New Year's? Woo hoo!

The feeling on Dollar at New Year's? Woo hoo!

I spent part of the beginning of the New Year on Dollar, as well, making my first tentative turns following knee surgery last spring. Accompanied by my patient 8-year-old and a patient friend, I tried out my repaired leg on the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar before progressing all the way to Dollar Face by the day’s end. While my technique and style might be slow to come back, the joy of being on the snow and on skis with Sun Valley at my feet, returned immediately.

My son and friend made sure to try out Prospector Park (thumbs up), a few park features and the Cross Course. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch on the fabulous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge patio where great food is accompanied by a big show and it seems the sun is always shining.  Even when you live here, there is no better way to feel like you’re on vacation than lunch on the patio.

Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge is HQ for great food, lift and tubing tickets and even super post holiday shopping for gear

Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge is HQ for great food, lift and tubing tickets and even super post holiday shopping for gear

They say the way you spend January 1 sets the tone for the year to follow. Hopefully, the months to come will be as enjoyable, laughter-filled and memory-making for those who spent New Year’s Day on Dollar as that beautiful day last Wednesday.

Wishing you all peace, joy and lots of fun in the snow in 2014!

–RES

Dollar is all about family fun

Dollar is all about family fun

Hailey Duke Inspires

Olympic alpine racer Hailey Duke isn’t hard to pick out from the crowd leaving Warm Springs after a great day spent on the slopes. Most recreational skiers don’t look this comfortable with a pair of racing skis slung over each shoulder. She also carries a huge backpack and juggles the rest of the equipment she needs to train for what will be some of the most important six weeks of her life. And that doesn’t even take into account the Team USA race suit she is wearing beneath her jacket; the same one she wore in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, except now the cuffs are a bit frayed and are rolled up to her knees. She has a second one she races in.

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Alpine Olympic racer Hailey Duke is all smiles at the base of Warm Springs following a morning of training

Duke is beaming as she comes off the hill, thrilled to be back in Sun Valley, thrilled to be training on Baldy. Her bright blue eyes sparkle with delight as this native daughter (she was born in Sun Valley and lived here until she was five) explains how happy she is to be home. “My parents were both Sun Valley Ski Instructors when I was little,” she said, “I learned to ski on Dollar. This winter, I had to figure out where my support system was, where I could train most effectively and be most comfortable. Sun Valley is it. Baldy is an awesome hill. It provides everything I am looking for at the top level – the best surface, great courses. It just doesn’t get much better than this.”

Effective training is critical to the 28-year-old at this juncture in her racing career as she is taking a run at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games that begin in less than 40 days in Russia. She explains, for slalom skiers, the meat of the season starts now and she plans on soon traveling to Utah and then on to Europe to try to secure one of four women’s spots for slalom racers on Team USA. Making this happen as an independent athlete requires raw determination, outstanding organization and laser-like focus. Thankfully Hailey possesses all these traits.

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Duke makes running slalom look easy (photo haileyduke.com)

Part of her motivation stems from now feeling strong, fast and healthy following brain surgery last February. Yes, brain surgery. After years of fighting overwhelming fatigue, Hailey was finally diagnosed with a benign brain tumor that was attached to her pituitary gland. A successful surgery left Hailey feeling much better quickly and by spring, she was back on her skis, pursuing her Olympic dreams. Due to her health concerns and subsequent declining results, she was cut as a member of the U.S. Ski Team and suddenly needed to learn to negotiate the tricky world of competing as an independent athlete. That means not only training at an elite level, but fundraising, securing sponsorship, planning complex itineraries and literally chasing the dream.

Since the surgery, Hailey says she feels great – invigorated, energetic and ready to take on everything that this next chapter entails. She is also slightly amazed that she was able to accomplish everything she did – great World Cup finishes and a spot on Team USA in 2010 – while the tumor unknowingly grew. Just imagine what she is capable of totally healthy and healed.

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February

Following successful surgery for a brain tumor, Hailey is focused on the road to Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in February (photo haileyduke.com)

Hailey is ready to see just what she is capable of and to that end, spent the morning with the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation Gold and FIS teams running slalom gates on Lower Warm Springs. She is living with coach Erika Hogan who she knew from her younger years in Sun Valley. “I’m living a few blocks from where I was born,” Hailey said. “I love the healthy vibe here. I love the people. It’s the best place to home base during this critical time for me.”

For the SVSEF athletes running gates alongside Hailey, having an Olympian among them is also incredibly inspiring. “I tell the younger kids that we are all skiing the same course,” she said. The FIS racers are those 16 and older who have qualified by criteria or been invited by the coaches to ski at the FIS (international) racing level. “It’s not that far away from where they are to where I am. We are working on the same things,” Hailey said.

Hailey will be training on Baldy 2 -3 hours each day before she leaves for her upcoming races that include two Europa Cups. To get to Sochi, she will need to podium in at least one Europa Cup race, get to the final World Cup race before the Olympics and from there, hopefully, it’s on to Russia.

“I really don’t believe you’re only as good as your last race,” she smiled. “I bring depth and experience to the sport and plan to work as hard as I can to represent America in Sochi.”

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams and all her goals

Duke is chasing the dream from the back of her truck filled with all her dreams, goals and equipment

To support Hailey in her quest for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and to follow her progress, please log onto haileyduke.com or follow her on social media. If you see a smiling woman with a frayed Olympic race suit encouraging local athletes before dropping into the course herself, be sure to say hello and give her your best wishes. Hailey Duke is an excellent ambassador for alpine racing and for Sun Valley and is sure to inspire the New Year’s resolutions to anyone with snow sports dreams.

Hailey Duke’s spirit, grit and optimism are a great example to us all.

–RES

New Year’s Cheer

No matter your age, it is important to give a nod to the year that was and ring in the new. And there’s no better place to do so than in Sun Valley! On Tuesday night, even the youngest merrymakers are invited to enjoy parties, designed especially for them, throughout the Resort.

It's time to celebrate!

It's time to celebrate!

Parents of the littlest revelers can luxuriate in some grownup time on New Year’s Eve knowing their children are having the time of their lives at a Bowling Night created just for them. From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, children between the ages of 12 months and 7 years will enjoy arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor play, bowling at Sun Valley’s historic alley and game room and an age-appropriate movie. This is a safe, stimulating environment where the kids are the stars of the night. The price is $75 for the evening and dinner is available for an additional $8.50 per child. Reservations are required. For more information or to sign up please call 208.622.2135 or email recreation@sunvalley.com.

Bowling at Sun Valley's historic alley will be part of the fun for little revelers on New Year's Eve

Bowling at Sun Valley's historic alley will be part of the fun for little revelers on New Year's Eve

Bigger kids will flock to the Boiler Room in Sun Valley Village to enjoy a party of their own. This Rockin’ New Year’s Eve features the music of DJ Marlin – a wildly popular local entertainer. Children from 8 to 14 are invited to dance, enjoy video walls with kids’ freeride edits and music videos. A photo booth is sure to be a highlight of the night. Bald Mountain Pizza will provide lots of hot, delicious food, drinks and a treat for everyone. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the party continues until 10 p.m. Parents are welcome and availability is limited so be sure to call 208.622.2135 or email recreation@sunvalley.com so as not to miss out on a minute of fun. The all-inclusive price is $50 per child.

Children love to skate on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

Children love to skate on Sun Valley's iconic outdoor rink

Sun Valley offers special Kids’ Night Out activities throughout the season, not only on New Year’s Eve. The schedule this week includes crafts like making Sun Valley Winter Wonderland backpacks and snowman canvas prints, and activities like ice skating on the famous outdoor rink and bowling. Contact the Sun Valley PlaySchool at 208.622.2288 for more information on all the fun as well as reservations.

For bigger kids, the party moves to the Boiler Room on New Year's Eve and features great music and a photo booth

For bigger kids, the party moves to the Boiler Room on New Year's Eve and features great music and a photo booth

And happy children make happy parents. When the kiddos are busy and entertained, be sure to make a reservation for a romantic meal or fun-filled evening at one of Sun Valley’s fabulous restaurants. Enjoy a cocktail at the Ram Lounge at the Inn or the Duchin Lounge at the Lodge and then tuck into locally-sourced, seasonal and delicious fare at the Ram, Gretchen’s, Bald Mountain Pizza and Pasta, the Konditorei or Trail Creek Cabin. All are different, all are delicious! Stroll hand-in-hand through the Village Light Display, shop or window shop, delighting in the Resort’s whimsical holiday windows. It is truly a magical time of year in Sun Valley.

Popular DJ Marlin will keep the kids dancing and happy at a special party just for them

Popular DJ Marlin will keep the kids dancing and happy at a special party just for them

No matter how you and your family choose to spend New Year’s Eve, may it be filled with friends, loved ones, good memories and exciting plans. We hope to see you at the Sun Valley Resort to ring in 2014 – be it with champagne or sparkling apple cider.

Happy New Year!

–RES

Build Skills, Catch Air

Skiers and snowboarders spent a beautiful Sun Valley weekend trying out Dollar's newest skill-building terrain park

Skiers and snowboarders spent a beautiful Sun Valley weekend trying out Dollar's newest skill-building terrain park

“Dropping in!” This delighted cry rang out time and again on Dollar Mountain’s new skill-building terrain park that officially opened for the season on Sunday. Designed for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders, the new features, located skiers’ right on Quarter Dollar, is not only big fun, it enhances the learning curve exponentially.

Children's SnowSports Director Shannon Price thinks this park is fantastic for both fun and learning new skills (and, yes, she is always this happy!)

Children's SnowSports Director Shannon Price thinks this park is fantastic for both fun and learning new skills (and, yes, she is always this happy!)

According to Shannon Price, Director of the Sun Valley Children’s SnowSports program, this progression park is a wonderful addition to Dollar. Kids will automatically be drawn to it and they will have so much fun they won’t even know they’re learning! For those with big dreams of big air, this is the perfect place to start.

The park is built with “soft” features, including rollers, a mini Halfpipe and a family cross course. There are no “hard” features like rails. And everything is designed with young athletes in mind.

“The gentle pipe actually improves children’s skills and form,” explained Shannon. “The layout lets a child who is snowplowing to drop in, and by using the curvature of the pipe, their skis automatically become more parallel. It’s amazing how quickly beginning skiers improve when they use this feature.”

The mini-pipe help skiers get parallel and is good practice for everyone

The mini-pipe help skiers get parallel and is good practice for everyone

The park is open to everyone on Dollar and on a stunning Sunday morning it was getting a lot of use. SnowSports School children’s group lessons explored every foot of the available terrain, yelping with delight the entire way down. Parents and children took to the mini-pipe together and laughed over the rollers on the way back to Quarter Dollar lift.

Skills built on this gentle park will transfer easily to Dollar’s more challenging features that were also getting quite a work out this weekend. Visitors, recreational skiers and snowboarders and members of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation freestyle team flew, jumped, flipped and spun over jumps, jibs and boxes, having the time of their lives.

Local athletes train on jumps on Dollar Sunday, showing how it is done

Local athletes train on jumps on Dollar Sunday, showing how it is done

No matter if you are an absolute terrain park beginner, have a child who has dreams of back flips or cross course racing or just want to try something new, the new terrain park at Dollar has your name on it. Be sure to head to the mountain during your Sun Valley holiday vacation and take a run, or three or four. Make a day of it by enjoying a fabulous lunch at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.

If you think your child will want to spend the entire day – or week – trying out everything Dollar offers, book a group or private lesson at the SnowSports School by calling (888) 490-5950 or click HERE. The highly trained, amazingly enthusiastic instructors are sure to make your child’s experience one to remember!

Getting ready to drop into the park!

Getting ready to drop into the park!

Christmas is here and we wish you and yours a spectacular holiday in Sun Valley! Don’t forget the Nutcracker on Ice this evening followed by the Torchlight Parade and fireworks. Then after Santa visits in the morning, be sure to get out onto Baldy and Dollar and don’t miss this wonderful new place to play.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

–RES

Light up the Night

On Saturday night, following a countdown of 5-4-3-2-1, it was officially Christmas in Sun Valley! Hundreds of people in the holiday spirit flocked to the Village to enjoy the lighting of the Christmas tree and all the surrounding activities.

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights

Sun Valley is magical at night, lit with millions of white lights. Saturday night hundreds strolled beneath them

Merrymakers were greeted by millions of white lights that festooned trees up and down the walkways, creating a magical glow amid light snow. Hot chocolate stations kept everyone warm and happy as they enjoyed all the night offered.

Among the highlights? Ice carving demonstrations that showed just how much work and skill – and how many power tools  – it takes to create one of the many oversize ice sculptures that will now remain throughout Sun Valley for the rest of the cold weather season. The noisy sounds of chainsaws mixed with the shouts of delighted children as blocks of ice transformed into Christmas trees, thrones and, of course, a big Sun Valley Sun. Many, curious about the properties of such huge ice blocks, hopped onto the seats wondering if they would stick. They didn’t, but it surely was a bit chilly!

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

It takes a chainsaw and some serious artistic skill to transform a huge block of ice into a festive holiday tree

Sun Valley’s famous and charming carolers also gathered at the event, serenading the crowd with many Christmas favorites. The group of young men and women, clad in old fashioned and traditional winter outfits (complete with hand muffs for the girls), put a smile on everyone’s face as they sang the evening away in multi-part harmony.

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

The Sun Valley's famous carolers' renditions of holiday songs put a smile on everyone's faces

Santa made an appearance and invited dozens and dozens of children to whisper last-minute wishes in his ear.

The highlight of the event, though, was probably the lighting of Sun Valley’s beautiful, living Christmas tree, located just outside the doors to the Sun Valley Inn. Sun Valley General Manager Tim Silva welcomed the group, abuzz with anticipation, and then counted down until the switch was thrown and the tree came alive with color. You could almost hear the collective intake of breath before the applause began.

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

5-4-3-2-1! The Sun Valley Christmas tree is alight for the season

The merriment continued well into the night with the Duchin Lounge at the Lodge hosting a Christmas sweater party and Village restaurants preparing festive and delicious meals to suit every taste and every budget. Santa Claus greeted families at a special breakfast in the Lodge Dining Room Saturday and Sunday morning and excitement was in the air.

Be sure not to miss Sunday night’s sixth Annual Classical Christmas Concert at The Sun Valley Opera House  Tickets are available at the Sun Valley Recreation Center for $20, or for purchase at the door. For more information please call 208.622.2135 or email recreation@sunvalley.com. Doors open at 6:30 and the music begins at 7 p.m.

The mountains skied really well this weekend, too, inviting snow sports enthusiasts to enjoy the run up to Christmas Day under bright blue Idaho skies, surrounded by some of the most jaw dropping vistas in the Lower 48. Reports from up top were generally comprised of “woo hoo!”

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

Welcome to Sun Valley where Christmas is exactly the way it is supposed to be!

It’s truly beginning to look a lot like Christmas and we are all glad that you are here to share the holidays in true Sun Valley style!

–RES

Toyland, Toyland

Toys and Christmas go together like, well like, Santa Claus and reindeer, whip cream and hot cocoa, Sun Valley and holiday cheer. There is nothing more precious than waking Christmas morning to see the wonder in little one’s eyes, and hear the shrieks of joy, as they unwrap packages carefully selected just for them.

Come into the Toy Store in the Sun Valley Village to be inspired and harken back to simpler times

Come into the Toy Store in the Sun Valley Village to be inspired and harken back to simpler times

In Sun Valley, toys are synonymous with The Toy Store with locations in the Sun Valley Village and downtown Ketchum. Owner Carol Knight, who has been in the business of making children’s wishes come true for 35 years, hand selects the finest toys for her colorful, whimsical shops, sure to delight infants through teenagers.

If you’re planning to be in Sun Valley for Christmas, be sure to leave a few items on your list unchecked because any visit to the Toy Store in the Village inspires. Stocked, floor-to-ceiling with toys to ignite the imagination, encourage creativity and bring hours or enjoyment to children of all ages, you are sure to find something on the shelves that is exactly what you were looking for. And probably a few things you haven’t seen anywhere else.

A toy Pisten Bully groomer will bring home Sun Valley memories for years to come

A toy Pisten Bully groomer will bring home Sun Valley memories for years to come

The Toy Store carries many items that will bring back memories of your Sun Valley Christmas. Among them, are a Pisten Bully grooming truck, just like the ones used to create perfect runs on Baldy. A line by Action Sports brings the terrain park pipe action home. Children can create ramps and pipes and then put snowboarder or skier action figures to work actually riding them. Kids can build these in the snow or sand, making this toy ideal, no matter where you call home.

A classic Madame Alexander doll with a snow culture twist can be your favorite child's this Christmas

A classic Madame Alexander doll with a snow culture twist can belong to your favorite child this Christmas

For little girls with dreams of snow, The Toy Store carries a Calico Critter set featuring a snowboarding bunny, as well as a collectible Madame Alexander doll representing Switzerland, complete with skis, poles and traditional garb.

Board games offer fun for the whole family, and some old fashion "unplugged" bonding time

Board games offer fun for the whole family, and some old fashioned "unplugged" bonding time

Carol said she also always recommends the classics and toys that bring families together. To this end, pop in and grab one of hundreds of board games or choose from a whole wall of Legos. Other timeless toys like Carolle baby dolls, colorful tin tops, infant activity mats, crafts and building sets of every ilk will also keep children happy and busy when they are not out enjoying Sun Valley’s amazing recreational opportunities over the holidays. Our family grabbed the game Qwirkle to set out over the holidays because Carol recommended it for all ages and we will be entertaining merrymakers from age 5 to 76.

A melting snowman is a great stocking stuffer

A melting snowman makes a great stocking stuffer

The Toy Store also offers fun stocking stuffers. Among Carol’s favorites: a melting snowman craft activity and Boogie Boards – LCD tablets that allow children to draw in neon, erase and start again.

This working chairlift captivates in the window of Sun Valley Signatures & Gifts

This working chairlift captivates in the window of Sun Valley Signatures & Gifts

A few doors down, the Sun Valley Signatures & Gift shop also offer carefully selected toys, including some that are very specific to snow sports culture. Be sure to pop in to see the huge chair lift toy carrying happy skiers and snowboarders on its miniature chairs and gondolas.

Harken back to the innocence of a simpler childhood, where toys came alive with a child’s imagination, and not every activity required batteries or a screen. I love shopping at The Toy Store for my children. The staff is extremely helpful and knowledgeable, and I always find something unexpected and delightful.

Ho, ho, ho.

–RES

The Jolly Holiday Season Begins

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Santa listened earnestly to many children's wishes during the Winter Wonderland Festival

Things were jolly, indeed, this weekend in Sun Valley. Families flocked to the Village to enjoy the second annual Winter Wonderland Festival. Children raced around with scavenger hunt cards looking for clues, boarded a colorful train for a ride, carefully (or not) decorated gingerbread cookies with gobs of frosting and whispered in Santa’s ear.

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Train rides around the Sun Valley Village were popular among the younger set

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded the group gathered outside the Boiler Room and Sun Valley provided delicious food and warm drinks to keep the merriment going. By all accounts, it was a lovely, festive way to spend the afternoon.

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Peter and Chloe enjoyed gingerbread man decorating in the Boiler Room

Then, on Sunday, the elegant Lodge Dining Room opened for its bountiful champagne brunch. Newly configured this year, the Brunch offered its signature abundance of fresh, delicious food to suit everyone’s palate at numerous stations. From bowls of crab legs and shrimp, to made-to-order omelets and crepes; from Eggs Benedict to salads and fruit, it was hard to maintain discipline at this all-you-can-eat occasion! And that doesn’t even begin to cover the dessert table and the flowing champagne! Live guitar music offered a soothing soundtrack beneath lively conversations. This special meal will be offered on Sundays all season long and is something everyone who visits Sun Valley should experience.

Dessert, glorious dessert!

At champagne brunch, it's dessert, glorious dessert!

A crepe station is always popular at brunch

The crepe station is always a popular option

On the mountains, Baldy and Dollar hosted happy skiers and boarders all weekend long. Dollar is now open daily for the season, providing top-to-bottom runs as well as many fun and challenging terrain features. On Baldy, runs on Seattle Ridge also opened on Saturday. Skiing and boarding are now available on all over the vast mountain, offering great possibilities for a full day on the snow. Roundhouse Restaurant, Seattle Ridge Lodge, Warm Springs Lodge, River Run Lodge and Lookout are all providing tasty treats of all varieties to keep your energy high for just one more run.

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

Baldy's Seattle Ridge is open for the season!

But the fun is only beginning. A special breakfast with Santa takes place on December 21 and 22 at the Lodge Dining Room. Also on the 21st, be sure to come to the Sun Valley Village at 5 p.m. for the Tree Lighting Ceremony outside the Inn. Carolers, Santa and ice carving demonstrations will ring in the season.

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

There is nothing like Christmas Eve in Sun Valley with the Nutcracker on Ice, Torchlight Parade and fireworks

On December 22, be sure not to miss the sixth annual Classic Christmas Concert at the Sun Valley Opera House. The tradition is enriched this year with several popular local acts including the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus and special guest Joe Fos. Carolers and dancers from the Footlight Dance Centre will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 at the Sun Valley Recreation Center or online.

Everything leads up to Christmas Eve festivities, including the popular Nutcracker on Ice at the outdoor rink, followed by Sun Valley’s traditional torchlight parade and fireworks.

Please join us to celebrate the happiest of holidays!

–RES

Sun Valley Welcomes San Francisco

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

The entire Wood River Valley is delighted to have daily air service between Sun Valley and San Francisco this season

At precisely 1:22 p.m., the first United Airlines direct flight between San Francisco and Sun Valley landed under bluebird Idaho skies amid much hoopla. Emissaries from the Sun Valley Resort, local government officials and oodles of well-wishers gathered in the lobby of Friedman Memorial Airport to greet the inaugural flight. Rosé champagne flowed, cake was cut and there were smiles all around.

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

The large crowd in the terminal cheered as the regional jet touched down

On the tarmac, 52 passengers de-planed amid cheers, flashbulbs and a very warm welcome. Travelers got in the spirit, waving as they walked down the stairs and embracing the rock-star reception. To celebrate, passengers were given gift bags full of goodies donated by local businesses and waiting for baggage was a delight as arriving visitors were serenaded by music from Wood River High School choir.

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Members of the Wood River High School choir serenaded arriving passengers

Sun Valley Resort Company Manager Tim Silva, Pam Snow from SkyWest Airlines, Jameson Ano from United Express, Ron Fairfax, chairman of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority and Eric Seder, president of the nonprofit Fly Sun Valley Alliance, marked the occasion by cutting a huge red ribbon once the wheels were down.

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) was one big party celebrating the new flight. Sun Valley Resort General Manager Tim Silva (in yellow) helped cut the ribbon and welcome visitors

On December 12, Sun Valley Company issued the statement: “[It] a new era in air service into Sun Valley … This marks the first new airline carrier into Sun Valley in the past 20 years and is the first ever jet service serving the Resort.”

Trip Nabors of Ketchum was among the throng, awaiting the arrival of a friend on this inaugural flight. He praised the new ease of travel between the two cities, noting that the additional service allowed a good friend to easily get to Sun Valley to celebrate his wife’s birthday.

For locals, the arrival of the United Express 66-seat CRJ 700 jet, was also exciting. Lisa Marie Allen and Peter Hendricks of Sun Valley toasted incoming passengers as they themselves prepared to hop on the first returning flight to San Francisco to enjoy a long weekend getaway to the City by the Bay. Upon arrival in the Bay Area, Lisa Marie sent the following message: “The flight was fabulous! The champagne continued to flow. Cheers!”

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals, former Olympic figure skater Lisa Marie Allen and husband Peter Hendricks, newly elected Sun Valley city councilman, enjoyed the festivities before hopping on the first return flight to San Francisco

Locals were also excited about a special 10 percent off discount being offered on this flight by the Fly Sun Valley Alliance. Please click HERE for the details.

This flight will operate daily through March 30 for the 2013-2014 winter season, and resume July 2 through September 23 for the summer.

With Sun Valley this week being named as one of the Top 10 U.S. destinations by Lonely Planet on its annual list, it’s no wonder San Franciscans flocked to the area on this first flight. After all, there truly is no place like Sun Valley.

Welcome San Francisco! We are happy you are here!

–RES

Strolling through a Winter Wonderland

Sun Valley’s second annual Winter Wonderland Festival, taking place this Saturday, December 14, springs straight out of a picture book depicting an ideal holiday setting. Snow sparkles all around, the inviting smell of peppermint hot chocolate wafts through the air mixing with fresh baked gingerbread, holiday windows display cozy, colorful ways to keep warm and children’s laughter rings out from every direction.

The village brightens up with million lights

It is a family affair, indeed, at the Sun Valley Village when the Resort invites everyone to join them to officially usher in the Christmas season. The young and young at heart will decorate gingerbread men, little ones can enjoy a train ride around the Village, live music provided by choirs from Wood River High School will offer a light-hearted soundtrack and food will be plentiful.

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa, I have been a very good boy this year...

Santa is coming to town, too, and will be available to hear children’s Christmas wishes, all while posing for that all-important holiday picture.

Back by popular demand, a scavenger hunt will also keep guests busy. Village shop windows are dressed with wonderful black and white archival photos depicting Sun Valley’s history as America’s number one winter destination resort. By identifying photos and completing the scavenger hunt, participants qualify for a free (yummy) prize!

Be sure to clear your afternoon. Gingerbread cookie decorating takes place in the Boiler Room from 2 to 4 p.m. Train rides are also offered during this time. Santa will take center stage on the Boiler Room deck beginning at 1 p.m. and will be ho, ho, ho’ing for two hours.

Last year, a group of friends and I bundled up our children and spent the afternoon in Sun Valley for the Winter Wonderland Festival, even finding time for a champagne toast to the season in the lobby outside the Duchin Room at the Lodge. The afternoon put a smile on everyone’s face and got us all in the holiday spirit.

But wait, there’s more! The fun continues on Sunday, December 15. With only ten days remaining until Christmas morning, now is the time to visit the Signatures & Gift Shop at the Village to have your presents beautifully wrapped. Members of Girls on the Run, a local program seeking to empower girls and young women through fitness and communication, will express gift wrap any present from anywhere. Donations are appreciated for this service.

Sunday also marks the return of the Lodge Dining Room’s famous, bountiful, elegant Sunday Brunch, offered from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. New specialties and complimentary champagne are included in this wonderful tradition.

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

Sunday brunch at the Lodge Dining Room returns (yay!) on December 15

For details and more information on upcoming Winter Wonderland Festival festivities please visit www.sunvalley.com/holidays.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

–RES

Meal with a View

Roundhouse Restaurant, nestled beneath Rock Garden run (or just off Roundhouse Lane if you prefer a gentler entry) about two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain, is one of the gems that makes Sun Valley, Sun Valley. Rustic, charming and traditional, but with a modern flair, this one-of-a-kind restaurant features roaring fires, a cozy atmosphere and drop-dead views of Ketchum, the Pioneer Mountains and beyond.

Roundhouse welcomes you to lunch beginning December 12

Roundhouse welcomes you to lunch beginning December 12

Roundhouse will open for the season on December 12, serving lunch seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m (starting December 19th). There is also still space available for a special dinner on Christmas Day. Reservations are required for dinner and are accepted for lunch. Expect starched white linens and crystal at both seatings to compliment a delicious menu that relies on locally-sourced, seasonal fare. But no worries, this is still a ski lodge. Parkas and ski boots are de rigueur at lunchtime and the atmosphere is an only-in-Sun Valley mix of upscale and casual.

Charming and cozy -- a meal at Roundhouse is sure to be memorable

Charming and cozy -- a meal at Roundhouse is sure to be memorable

For the ultimate in après ski, be sure to visit Averell’s Bar on the lower level of Roundhouse. Featuring huge picture windows overlooking Roundhouse Slope and downtown Ketchum, there is no more beautiful way to end a day on the snow. But Averell’s is more than a glass of wine or a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps. Every day, revelers are invited to enjoy Roundhouse’s famous fondue, accompanied with baguettes, red potatoes and granny smith apples. Additional “add-ons” are available for dunking in the sublime fondue, including spicy sausage, grilled steak, shrimp, wild mushrooms and roasted winter vegetables. Handmade Bavarian pretzels served with spicy mustard, cheddar spread, honey mustard, mesquite chipotle barbecue, olive cream cheese and jalapeno beer cheese are the perfect reward for completing all that vertical on skis or a board. The menu is designed for sharing, so bring your friends and indulge! The gondola will whisk you – and your gear — back to River Run after après ski ends.

Your chariot awaits to or from Roundhouse

Your chariot awaits to or from Roundhouse

Evening meals are served both in the main dining room and Averell’s. Be sure to come a bit earlier than your reservation to enjoy a cocktail at the inviting upstairs bar. And for dinner at Roundhouse, getting there is often half the fun! A ride on the Roundhouse gondola on a winter’s evening can mean a bright moonlit night, or an intimate cocoon of snow on the gondola’s windows. Be sure to wear warm boots, gloves, a hat and coat as the gondola isn’t heated during the approximately 15-minute ride. It is perfectly acceptable to change into party shoes once you reach Roundhouse, too!

Dinner at Roundhouse in winter is peaceful, magical, festive and delicious

Dinner at Roundhouse in winter is peaceful, magical, festive and delicious

Still need a reason to stop by? This season, Roundhouse is hand-crafting signature cocktails, as well as offering an extensive wine list and many boutique brews. New cocktails, appropriately named after ski runs, include: the Graduate (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, bing cherries, diced apples, cinnamon, orange bitters, simple syrup), the International (Hendrick’s Gin, Fever-Free Mediterranean Tonic) or the Sunny Side Organic Lemondrop (Organic Square One Vodka, organic lemon juice, organic agave nectar, organic sugar). Also special for the holidays is a Huckleberry-Pomegranate Cosmo (Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, Patron Citronage, huckleberry puree, organic Agave nectar). Cheers!

For dinner reservations, please call 208-622-2012 or book online through Open Table.

A meal, or drink, just tastes better at 7,700 feet, whether you are wearing your ski boots or high heels. There is no better way to toast the season than from a cozy table at Roundhouse!

–RES

Start your own holiday tradition at Roundhouse this season!

Start your own holiday tradition at Roundhouse this season!