A Walk Through History: Sun Valley Resort

Sun Valley Resort’s historical walking tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Sun Valley. But for those who can’t wait until they’re here to discover the secrets behind this historic resort, here is Part Three: Sun Valley Resort. For the complete series click here

The Red Barn once belonged to the Brass Ranch, on which Sun Valley Resort was built

STOP ONE: Take Sun Valley Road from the Lodge towards Ketchum and stop at the bright Red Barn on your left just before you reach the city. This barn is all that remains of the original Brass Ranch on which the resort was built. Used by the Brass family as a granary and machine shed, it is now an iconic image of Sun Valley. In January 1936, a week or so after Count Felix Schaffgotsch arrived in town and deemed the area “perfect” for a million-dollar ski resort, he bumped into Roberta Brass sitting on a fence pole near this very spot. “This is it,” he told her. “This is where Union Pacific is going to put in a ski resort. Next year at this time there will be a thousand people here.” Two months later Roberta’s father Ernest sold the family’s 3,888-acre sheep and cattle ranch to the railroad company for $39,000, or about $10 an acre. Construction of the Lodge began in May of that year, and its doors opened eight months later.

STOP TWO: Travel a few hundred yards along Sun Valley Road toward the Lodge and turn right down a dirt road to the Sun Valley Stables. It was here the Sun Valley Rodeo enjoyed its brief life. Having given little advance thought to what it would do with a ski resort during the summer, Union Pacific quickly whipped up a rodeo grandstand in the spring of 1937 and Sun Valley hosted its first Wild West rodeo on August 14. It proved too expensive however, and once visitors discovered the real draws of Sun Valley in the summer, the gimmick was no longer needed. The rodeo ended its regular run with the closing of the resort for WWII in 1942 and the stands were finally torn down in the late fifties.

STOP THREE: Continue east a mile or so along Sun Valley Road past the Lodge to the magnificent Sun Valley Club. Built in 2008, this 58,000 square foot clubhouse provides a luxurious base from which to access 27 of the resort’s 45 golf holes in the summer, and 25 miles of Nordic trails in the winter. Union Pacific was quick to spot the importance of golf to a resort, starting work on the Sun Valley golf course in the fall of 1937. Designed by William P. Bell, it opened in the summer of 1938.

STOP FOUR: Walk through the clubhouse and out to the expansive patio, where you will enjoy what is arguably the best view of Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain in the valley. While it now stands as the centerpiece of Sun Valley Resort, Bald Mountain was not the initial attraction. When Schaffgotsch first arrived in the Wood River Valley, at the end of his six-week, 7,000 mile odyssey across the West in search of the ideal spot to build Harriman’s ski resort, it was the gentle inclines of Dollar, Proctor and Ruud mountains that caught his eye. He certainly noticed the “bald” mountain, but deemed it too advanced for the majority of skiers in America, where the sport was still in its infancy. He was wrong. Although lifts didn’t open on Baldy until December 23, 1939, even in the first season guests attempted to tackle its 3,400-foot vertical rise using the services of an early snowcat named “the tank.”

STOP FIVE: A few hundred yards further along Sun Valley Road look for a sign on your right pointing to the Hemingway Memorial. Take the trail down the hill and discover one of the most tranquil spots on the valley’s floor. A bronze bust of Ernest Hemingway sits there, presiding over the trickling Trail Creek. Inscribed on the memorial is part of a eulogy Hemingway delivered for the man who brought him to Sun Valley in 1939. Gene Van Guilder was a publicist for the resort and an avid outdoorsmen. He introduced Hemingway to the excellent hunting and fishing in the area, but tragically was shot in a hunting accident a few weeks after the author arrived at Sun Valley. A notoriously shy public speaker, Hemingway surprisingly agreed to write and deliver Van Guilder’s eulogy, perhaps an indication of how comfortable he felt at Sun Valley. Sadly, Hemingway’s association with Sun Valley ended with his suicide in 1961. He is buried in the Ketchum Cemetery a mile or so from this spot.

STOP SIX: Walk back up to Sun Valley Road and take in the mountains suddenly towering over you to the south. Proctor and Ruud in front of you, and Dollar to your right, were the first mountains in the valley developed for skiing. But it was on Proctor Mountain that skiing history was made. Named for Charlie Proctor, the American Nordic Olympian who together with Schaffgotsch selected the skiing terrain, the mountain was home to the world’s first chairlift. Sun Valley’s publicist Steve Hannagan greatly disliked skiing, and hated cold even more, so he constantly looked for ways to make the experience more comfortable. One of his better ideas was the concept of mechanical devices to take people to the top of the mountain. Putting the vast engineering knowledge of Union Pacific to work, the idea of a chairlift was born. Engineer James M. Curran’s previous experience building a device to load bananas onto a ship inspired him to create a people-carrying version, and the world’s first chairlift was installed on Proctor in December of 1936. The second was completed a few weeks later on Dollar. A J-bar lift was also installed on Proctor Mountain in 1936, but it was moved to Ruud Mountain and refitted with chairs the next year. That lift is the only one that still stands, and it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It can be visited via a short, but steep hike. From where you stand however, if there is no snow on the ground, you can just make out the original, decaying poles from that first chairlift on Proctor jutting up out of the hillside.

STOP SEVEN: Head further up Sun Valley Road to the newly remodeled Sun Valley Gun Club on your left. First situated along what is now Fairway Road across from the Sun Valley Lake, the gun club was constructed from the Hot Potato Hut that once warmed chilly skiers at the top of Proctor Mountain. That original structure is still part of the club, but the addition of marble bathrooms and other amenities has greatly increased the building’s luxury factor. Skeet shooting was once the most popular summertime activity at Sun Valley and the club hosted many internationally accredited shooting competitions. The addition in 1940 of Carl Bradsher, an internationally known skeet instructor from the exclusive Pennsylvania Rolling Rock Club, helped in generating interest in the sport. Today, that interest remains high, and the gun club claims the honor of teaching more beginners than any other club in the country.

STOP EIGHT: Opposite the gun club is the entrance to Trail Creek Cabin. Opened in January 1939 to create a destination for Sun Valley’s jingling scarlet and yellow bobsleighs, the cabin embraced all the rustic Western atmosphere that the Lodge lacked. Built not out of concrete but from real logs brought down off Galena Summit, it boasted a small coffee bar, a whitewashed kitchen where host August Jacobsen turned out pies and hot biscuits, and a fire that was always burning. Today, you can take a seasonal sleigh or hay ride to the cabin and enjoy dinner surrounded by the same spectacular beauty that Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn enjoyed when they had their pre-wedding dinner here in March of 1939. 

The history of Sun Valley is a rich tapestry that weaves the birth of America’s fascination with skiing, the glamor of the overlapping worlds of Hollywood stars and East Coast socialites, and the shadow of international disaster, into the creation of a vibrant and special community in Idaho’s high desert. This introductory tour merely scratches the surface of the fascinating events, amusing anecdotes and historical milestones to be tracked in this isolated valley. To read more about Sun Valley, its history and its characters, pick up a copy of The Sun Valley Story by Van Gordon Sauter. As Clint Eastwood wrote in his foreword “This book captures the magic and the tradition and a whole lot more.”

Written and researched by Jennifer Tuohy

Click here for Part One: The Sun Valley Lodge

Click here for Part Two: The Sun Valley Village 

A Walk Through History: Sun Valley Village

Sun Valley Resort’s historical walking tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Sun Valley. But for those who can’t wait until they’re here to discover the secrets behind this historic resort, here is Part Two of the tour: Sun Valley Village. For the complete series click here

The Ram Restaurant, part of Sun Valley Village since 1937

STOP ONE: Begin your tour of Sun Valley’s grounds at the outdoor ice rink. Installed in 1936, the rink was a main attraction for the new winter resort. Steve Hannagan, Sun Valley’s publicist, was far from convinced that starlets and socialites wanted to hurtle down a hillside, and he deemed skating far more glamorous. Today, it is one of the world’s premier outdoor ice-skating venues, attracting Olympians such as Sasha Cohen, Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek to perform in its summer ice shows. The very first ice show was held on the evening of Thursday, February 24, 1938. The Austrian ski instructors kicked off festivities by slaloming down Dollar Mountain carrying flares. This torchlight parade, as it became known, is a tradition that is now a centerpiece of Sun Valley’s Christmas celebrations. That first ice show however, was not quite of the caliber of today’s. Instead of Olympians it featured brave resort guests waltzing on the ice with flares in hand, comical musical chairs and Union Pacific staff who had been given such expert choreographic instruction as “just move around.” It proved such a hit that a repeat performance was ordered for the next week, and ice shows have continued at Sun Valley ever since.

STOP TWO: Now take a walk from the resort’s oldest entertainment venue to its newest. Keep the rink on your right and follow the path away from the Lodge toward the Sun Valley Pavilion. This impressive feat of architecture is the jewel in the crown of the six buildings Sun Valley’s most recent owner, Earl Holding, contributed to the resort during his 35 years of ownership. One of Mr. Holding’s favorite sayings was “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing,” and the Pavilion is overdone in the best possible way. Opened in 2008 through a partnership with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, this one-of-a-kind performing arts facility was constructed with 1,000 tons of marble from the same quarry as the stone used to build Rome’s Coliseum. In its young life it has hosted such glittering names as Garth Brooks, the San Francisco Ballet, Bill Cosby and, of course, the world famous Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

STOP THREE: Walk from the Pavilion around the Lodge and towards the Sun Valley Village. You will pass three cottages. The first is The Harriman Cottage. Built in the summer of 1937, this was Sun Valley’s original “vacation home,” and is still available to rent today. “I wanted to have a place to come and live,” Harriman said in 1983. “And I wanted to encourage people to build houses in the valley. I didn’t want any more hotels to be built. I didn’t want it to be cluttered up as [if] it was a big resort. But I wanted people to come here and live and enjoy it either as a home or as a second home of sorts. All of that was part of the original idea. It has worked out very satisfactorily.” The other two cottages were added in the fall of 1940, one for Dr. Moritz, the resident surgeon, and the other for Friedl Pfeiffer, then the new head of the ski school, although he never lived in it. These are now The President’s and Guest cottages and can also be rented.

STOP FOUR: Continue along the sidewalk to the bus circle at the entrance to the Sun Valley Village, and stop just below the flagpole. Here you’ll find The Tenth Mountain Division Rock. This memorial to The Ski Troops, as they were known, honors the many Sun Valley alumni and residents who fought in the division during WWII. The Tenth is famous for helping push the Germans from the snow covered mountains of Italy, effectively ending the war, but they lost a quarter of their number in the process. Three mountains in the valley are named for fallen Sun Valley employees who served in The Tenth: Handwerk Peak after a waiter at the Ram; Duncan Ridge for a former Lodge employee; and Bromaghin Peak for a ski instructor.

STOP FIVE: Just beyond the rock, to the left of the recreation center, is another of the resort’s links to WWII. These statues are in memory of two members of the Tenth, Austrian ski instructors Sigi Engl and Sepp Froehlich, who between them worked 72 seasons at Sun Valley. Engl initially applied in 1938, but was turned down by Harriman. By the following season however he was firmly ensconced at the resort, and worked here for more than three decades. He served as director of the ski school from 1952 to 1975. Froehlich arrived at Sun Valley the year after Engl, but the outbreak of WWII saw him, Engl and three other Austrian instructors arrested by the FBI on suspicions of harboring Nazi sympathies. Engl immediately joined the U.S. Army, but Froehlich spent nearly three months in prison before enlisting. He went on to win a Silver Star for gallantry in the Pacific.

STOP SIX: Follow the path past the bank and turn right to the Sun Valley Opera House. The 320-seat movie theater was added in the resort’s second season, and its early ties to Hollywood were strong enough to secure a much-sought-after copy of Gone With The Wind in the first few weeks of its release. (Wind producer David O’Selznick was a friend of Harriman’s and helped him publicize Sun Valley, although he disapproved of the name, he thought it should be called Ski Haven.) Today, alongside hit movies, catch a showing of Sun Valley Serenade most days. The 1940s classic features scenes shot at the resort as well as future gold medalist Gretchen Fraser skiing for star Sonja Henie.

STOP SEVEN: From the Opera House proceed around the duck pond, taking in the glass enclosed exterior of the resort’s second circular pool (identical to the one in the Lodge), and walk along the length of the Sun Valley Inn. “Realizing that one hotel doesn’t make a resort, Sun Valley this year opened another spacious hostelry, much more moderate in price,” Esquire wrote in its February 1938 article Enter the Ski-golo. The title referenced the original ski school director Hans Hauser’s stable of Austrian skier instructors. It turns out they were all “singularly adept in teaching that old world technique to our susceptible American maidens.” Originally called The Challenger Inn, after Union Pacific’s passenger trains, the Inn is the centerpiece of the Sun Valley Village. Built to resemble a Tyrolean mountain village, the hotel was based on drawings by Ernst Fegté, the German set designer of the first movie shot in Sun Valley, I Met Him in Paris starring resort regular Claudette Colbert. The hotel’s different facades were painted by American artist Walt Kuhn to enhance the illusion of a classic Austrian village street, when inside it is all one building.

STOP EIGHT: Taking the path to your left, pass the Inn and arrive in front of The Ram restaurant. A relaxed, casual setting for socializing after skiing, The Ram had a strong Austrian theme, right down to the long-stemmed wine-pourers called Weinhebers, imported from Vienna by Count Schaffgotsch. It was also a favorite of the celebrity guests. If you were here in 1938 you might spot Ginger Rogers tap dancing away to The Ram Trio’s cheery tunes (possibly including the Hokey Pokey, which musician Larry Laprise claims to have invented here). Pop by in the winter of 1956 and Marilyn Monroe could be tucked away in a booth, relaxing after a day filming Bus Stop in the snow. Stop for dinner in the forties and sit next to Clark Gable, Bing Crosby or Gary Cooper. The Ram was a place where people let their hair down because, according to a 1958 Sports Illustrated feature on Sun Valley, “It has the New York nightclub feeling.”

STOP NINE: Continuing on through Sun Valley Village, follow the path to the left towards the Lodge. You’ll pass through what was originally known as the Sun Valley Mall. Installed in 1966 by the resort’s second owner, Olympic skier Bill Janss, the shopping street was modeled on the popular shopping mall concept of the time. Today it has been so tightly woven into the character of the original village that it is simply referred to as the Sun Valley Village. In fact, one spot here claims a link to the earliest history of the resort. The Brass Ranch skiwear boutique is named after the sheep and cattle ranch that once stood here.

Written and researched by Jennifer Tuohy

Click here for Part One: The Sun Valley Lodge

Click here for Part Three: Sun Valley Resort

A Walk Through History: The Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Resort’s historical walking tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Sun Valley. But for those who can’t wait until they’re here to discover the secrets behind this historic resort, here is Part One: The Sun Valley Lodge. Parts two and three are coming soon.

Sun Valley Lodge

 

In March of 1936, on the spot where the Sun Valley Lodge now stands, a short, stout New York publicist surveyed what was to become his next project: a barren cattle field, waiting for the birth of a luxury ski lodge. Despite the snow filling his Fifth Avenue loafers, Steve Hannagan felt warm. The intense heat of the deep-winter Idaho sun was remarkable. In that moment, Hannagan knew how to convince the rich and famous to travel to the middle of nowhere and risk their necks hurtling down a mountainside in the decidedly uncivilized pursuit of skiing. He was going to lure them with the promise of “Winter Sports Under a Summer Sun.” He was going to call it Sun Valley.

Sun Valley Resort exists because of three men: Hannagan, William Averell Harriman and Count Felix Schaffgotsch. The brains, the money and the brawn behind the project respectively, this trio turned the then crazy idea of building a magnificent palace in the snow into a reality. Harriman, chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, was a famous playboy whose passion for glamorous pursuits inspired the idea of creating America’s first destination ski resort at the end of one of his railroads. The promise of passenger traffic on the freight-heavy line was enough to convince UP’s board and, after a snow-seeking odyssey across the Wild West, Count Schaffgotsch found the perfect spot. Then, with Hannagan’s marketing genius, Harriman’s cash and connections, and the charming Count’s direct line to the best ski instructors in Europe, a legend was born.

STOP ONE: Stand on the path at the edge of the duck pond and take in a panoramic view of the Sun Valley Lodge. The X-shaped building is virtually unchanged from when it was constructed in the summer of 1936. Four stories high, with 220 rooms (now 148), the building rose from the ground in less than eight months and cost $1.5 million. You could be forgiven for assuming it’s a traditional wooden lodge. In fact, the walls are made from concrete, to ensure it would not suffer the fate of its architect’s previous project, the Grand Canyon Lodge, which burned to the ground three years earlier. Each “log” was made by pouring concrete into wooden molds and then staining and stenciling it to resemble wood.

STOP TWO: Walk around the pond and let one of Sun Valley’s genial doormen welcome you into The Lobby. Here you will stand in a room not much changed since Gary Cooper stepped inside on opening day, December 21, 1936. On your right is a portrait of Harriman, Sun Valley’s founder. Harriman had the Lodge furnished and decorated by Newport socialite Marjorie Oelrichs Duchin, the best friend of his wife Marie. Marjorie banished the color white from the interior, even from the linens. Instead, yellows, oranges and greens, complemented by rich red carpets and navy blue upholstery dominated the decor. When it first opened, alongside the usual requirements of a hotel, the Lodge also boasted a barber shop, a beauty parlor, a surgery department, a bachelor’s lounge (which quickly became a game room), writing rooms and, of course, a ski room. Saks Fifth Avenue also opened a store, selling the latest in skiing fashions from Manhattan that combined the style of the era with the practicalities of the unladylike pursuit of hurtling down a mountainside on two planks of wood.

STOP THREE: Step through the lobby and to your left into The Duchin Lounge. The Lodge’s premier nightspot, the lounge was originally located where Gretchen’s Restaurant is today and the Saks Fifth Avenue store was in lounge’s current location. Contrary to a popular myth, The Duchin Lounge was not named for famous forties’ bandleader Eddie Duchin, who played at Sun Valley many times, but for his wife Marjorie, in recognition of her work designing the Lodge’s interior.

STOP FOUR: Cross the lobby to Gretchen’s Restaurant. Opened in 1985 after the lobby was remodeled, it was named for America’s first Olympic skiing champion, Gretchen Fraser. Fraser was the star pupil of Sun Valley ski school director Otto Lang, who had her stand in for his friend the ice-skater Sonja Henie in the skiing scenes of Thin Ice (1937) and Sun Valley Serenade (1941). Fraser and her husband Don lived in Sun Valley for many years until their deaths in 1994. Fraser’s ashes were scattered over Gretchen’s Gold, the Baldy run named in honor of her victories at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz.

STOP FIVE: Exit the lobby through the northern corridor, otherwise known as the Hall of Fame. Also installed in 1985, this gallery of photographs showing off many of the Lodge’s rich and famous guests was the brainchild of Earl Holding, the resort’s owner since 1977. Look for photos of the Kennedy family vacationing on Sun Valley’s slopes, local residents Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, classic crooners such as Louis Armstrong and Bette Midler, and legends of the silver screen including Clarke Gable and Claudette Colbert, all of whom were regular visitors to the resort.

STOP SIX: Continue down the hallway to the Lodge Pool. Originally intended to mimic Idaho’s natural hot springs, Union Pacific was unable to strike a deal with the State to pump its water into the pool. So the management decided to make its own. Large vats were installed in the basement to mix precisely the required minerals into the water. However, the resulting sulphuric stench was considered unbearable, and rapidly the mineral concentration was reduced just to a few teaspoons, still technically hot springs to draw people to the resort, but no longer obnoxious for those already here.

STOP SEVEN: On your way back to the lobby there is a doorway on your right that leads downstairs to the Bowling Alley. Installed in the summer of 1940, the bowling alley had been part of the original plans for the in-house entertainment of the Lodge. It joined a game room, which featured a very popular ping-pong table and a not so popular piano. One of the first guests at the resort, Gone With the Wind producer David O’ Selznick, was slightly appalled at having to pay for his ping-pong balls, especially as he kept losing them.

STOP EIGHT: Return to the lobby and take the elevator to the second floor. In front of you is the Sun Room. Offering excellent views of the ice rink and Bald and Dollar Mountains, it was once called the Redwood Room. In here, on July 17, 1954, Groucho Marx, 63, married actress Eden Hartford, 24. It was the groom’s third wedding.

STOP NINE: From the Sun Room turn left down the hall and walk towards the Lodge Dining Room. Glance down the hallway to your left. At the far end is Room 206. Arguably the most famous room in the resort, it was here Ernest Hemingway wrote the majority of For Whom The Bell Tolls on a wooden desk specially installed for the author. He first came to Sun Valley on September 20, 1939 with soon-to-be-wife number three, Martha Gellhorn. A passionate hunter, Hemingway was lured to the resort by publicist Gene Van Guilder as a way to promote the new fall season. He fell in love with Idaho, returning most years to his “Glamour House.” He finished For Whom The Bell Tolls on October 10, 1940, and sent the galleys to his publisher right from The Inn’s camera shop.

STOP TEN: Sun Valley’s grand opening dinner was held in the Lodge Dining Room on December 21, 1936. A lavish affair, Life magazine said the Lodge opened with “As fancy a crew of rich socialites as have ever been assembled under one roof.” Along with a menu featuring Beef Tea des Viveurs and Ananas Surprise Union Pacifique, guests were treated to a good old-fashioned fistfight. David O’Selznick threw a punch at a Chicago banker who presumed to ask Claudette Colbert for a dance. The resulting headline, “Sun Valley Opens With a Bang,” cemented the hotel’s place in history as the most talked about destination ski resort for decades to come.

Written and researched by Jennifer Tuohy

Click here for Part Two: The Sun Valley Village 

Click here for Part Three: Sun Valley Resort

Spring Renewal

Wonderful changes are underway at the storied Sun Valley Lodge

Wonderful changes are underway at the storied Sun Valley Lodge

As March wound down, one chapter of Sun Valley’s storied history came to a close, while another one began to be written. On Saturday night, March 29, the elegant Lodge Dining Room hosted its final dinner, while on Sunday the 30th, hundreds gathered in the iconic room, the “grand dame” of the Sun Valley Resort, to feast on one final Sunday brunch. On April 1, the beautiful, tiered space with its rounded walls and floor-to-ceiling picture windows, began its transition as a central part of a spectacular new renovation that began earlier this week.

Among the revelers at Saturday night's party at the Lodge Dining Room were Mike and Carole Sampson and their guests Dr. David and Patti Puz. Mike, a local real estate agent, said, "Carole and I have been doing Christmas dinner at the LDR since the Holdings bought Sun Valley.  I was a ski instructor and she owned an interior design business. It Happened in Sun Valley!"

Among the revelers at Saturday night's party at the Lodge Dining Room were Mike and Carole Sampson and their guests Dr. David and Patti Puz. Mike, a local real estate agent, said, "Carole and I have been doing Christmas dinner at the LDR since the Holdings bought Sun Valley. I was a ski instructor and she owned an interior design business. It Happened in Sun Valley!"

The Lodge Dining Room will morph into a portion of a glorious new spa, salon and fitness center, part of a large renovation project announced last month by the Sun Valley Resort aimed at continuing to make the Sun Valley experience an unforgettable one for guests. The new 20,000 square foot facility will offer resort guests and the local community all the pampering they could ever wish for in an atmosphere designed to interact harmoniously with the area’s spectacular surroundings. Fifteen private treatment rooms for individuals and couples, steam and sauna facilities, large plush locker rooms, relaxation lounges, a yoga studio and large fitness facility filled with the latest and best aerobic and strength training equipment will add tremendously to the full Sun Valley experience. The views of Baldy should be pretty spectacular, too. And for you Lodge pool fans (like me), no worries. The wonderful, warm, round pool will remain in an improved form that includes a spacious deck and new food and beverage service.

The spa addition is just part of enhancements planned for the Lodge that was originally constructed in 1936 as America’s first destination ski resort. In addition to the spa, the project’s plans include creating guest suites with fireplaces and expanded bathrooms. Visitors will also be greeted in a lobby with enhanced space for gathering and comparing notes – whether they are about the best run of the day or the largest trout netted. Exciting restaurant plans are also in the works.

The iconic and wonderful year-round Lodge pool will receive some improvements during this project

The iconic and wonderful year-round Lodge pool will receive some improvements during this project

The Sun Valley Lodge, however, will still be the Sun Valley Lodge with its unique and welcoming character that generations of visitors have enjoyed. According to the Resort, “With these improvements, the utmost care will be taken to maintain the character and essence of this magnificent historic building that was originally designed by Stanley Underwood in 1935.  For nearly 80 years the Sun Valley Lodge has been recognized as an icon of architecture, hospitality, comfort and entertainment.  As the pictures in its hallways display, it has been a place where movie stars, dignitaries and other celebrities come together with kids, families, locals and visitors of all walks of life throughout the world to enjoy the beauty and recreation that Sun Valley has to offer.”

“There are few more enduring icons of quality and hospitality in the world than the Sun Valley Lodge.” said Carol Holding, resort owner for the last 37 years with her late husband Earl. “Our family has loved Sun Valley for over three decades.  We have always tried to make it better while maintaining the personal and intimate feeling that makes it so special.  We want to keep the wonderful feeling of the Lodge while at the same time providing the modern comforts and conveniences that our guests expect, fitting the Lodge for the next 75 years of fun in the sun.”

The view from above on April 3

The view from above on April 3

For Resort guests, the changes should be largely seamless. According to Dick Andersen, Director of Hotels, starting April 1, this first phase of the much anticipated remodel will not interrupt “business as usual.” Everything at the Lodge will be in full operation through April 6 with the exception of the current Salon that will reopen April 3 in a new, temporary location at the former Signatures and Gift Shop in the Sun Valley Village.  Signatures and Gifts can be found adjacent to Pete Lane’s in the Village during the renovation. The Business Center has also temporarily relocated to the Village and the Lodge concierge is happy to also assist guests with business needs and services like printing boarding passes.

Beginning April 7, the Lodge pool will close but the Inn pool will remain open daily 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.

At this time, the Spa will join the Beauty Salon in the Village and the Fitness Center will move down the hallway toward the public bathrooms in the Lodge.

Stop by the Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa, now located in the Village, for the best pampering around

Stop by the Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa, now located in the Village, for the best pampering around

Sun Valley has retained the Boston design firm of Frank Nicholson Inc and local architects Ruscitto, Latham, Blanton to oversee the project.  Having worked together for over two decades for the Holdings in Sun Valley, this design team is very familiar with the needs and character of the resort.  Their prior projects include: River Run Lodge 1994, the Sun Valley Inn and Ballroom expansion 2003, Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge 2004, the Sun Valley Lodge improvements in 1996 & 2004 and the Sun Valley Pavilion 2008. 

Full renovation of the Lodge begins in September and both projects are expected to be completed by June of 2015. According to Tim Silva, Sun Valley’s General Manager, “We anticipate completing both projects by June of next year.  We are pleased that during construction the Sun Valley Inn, cottages and condominiums as well as restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues will be fully operational to accommodate Sun Valley’s guests.”

It is an exciting time in Sun Valley as everyone looks toward the future and toward offering the finest year-round experience for our guests. I, for one, can’t wait for the new spa. Even though I was always a loyal fan of the Lodge Dining Room, this will be a wonderful reinvention of a wonderful space: one that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

Stay tuned to this blog for updates on the renovations and exciting developments at the Sun Valley Resort.

–RES

Race Action Heats Up on Baldy

The action at the Western Region Spring Series is non-stop this weekend with elite ski racers making the most of spring break Sun Valley style.

Gentlemen, and ladies, start your engines!

Gentlemen, and ladies, start your engines!

According to Nick Maricich, director of Sun Valley SnowSports, “the racing on Warm Springs, Hemingway and Cozy has been amazing. It is great to have the majority of the U.S. men’s Olympic speed team on our slopes as well as all the other tremendous athletes.”

Great form isn't in short supply on the Warm Springs side of  Bald Mountain

Great form isn't in short supply on the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain

“Athletes and officials from around the world have given the green light to the 2016 US Nationals in Sun Valley, saying ‘this is one of the best race hills in the world.’ They can’t wait to come back,”  said Maricich.

Come out and cheer on the skiers

Come out and cheer on the skiers

Here are some scenes from the excitement on the hill this week.

Conditions are great and the skiing is fast

Conditions are great and the skiing is fast

Camaraderie is a big part of this event

Camaraderie is a big part of this event

Local racer Hailey Duke is skiing great and looks like she is having fun, too

Local racer Olympian Hailey Duke is skiing great and looks like she is having fun, too

All photos courtesy of Nick Maricich.

–RES

Spend Spring Break with Top Skiers

For many college students, spring break means kicking back on a slope or on a beach and escaping from the rigors of the academic year for two blissful, relaxing weeks. But for a group of elite alpine racers, nothing could be better than spring break in Sun Valley, competing in the 2014 Western Region Spring Series.

Elite racers show how it's done this week on Baldy's Warm Springs runs

Elite racers show how it's done this week on Baldy's Warm Springs runs

This week, Sun Valley welcomed skiers to the six-day, six-race series presented by Bentley Motors. Recent Olympians, members of the U.S. Ski Team, top college racers and members of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) team all got to the starting gate to compete in Super G, slalom and giant slalom all over the Warm Springs side of Bald Mountain.

81 men and 54 women are expected to go head-to-head in this SVSEF-hosted International Ski Federation (FIS) competition.  It is one of the last chances of the season for skiers to prove their merit and to shave points to advance in the field.

Ruben Macaya, head alpine coach of the SVSEF, said in an interview, “We should have what I would call World Cup conditions – hard, fast – it should be a smooth surface for everyone. The snow density is optimal right now and there is so much moisture in it that it makes for a great surface.”

What better way to spend spring break than racing down beautiful Bald Mountain?

What better way to spend spring break than racing down beautiful Bald Mountain?

Racing began on Wednesday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the action focused on men’s and women’s super G on Warm Springs. Friday and Saturday, women’s slalom on Cozy and men’s giant slalom on Hemingway. Sunday and Monday the main events are women’s giant slalom on Hemingway and men’s slalom on Cozy.

Spectators are invited to watch all the speed and splendor these athletes bring to the course. According to Mike Lloyd of Sun Valley Ski Patrol, the best viewing for Super G will be at the bottom of the Limelight run. Make your way to Greyhawk to catch giant slalom and for slalom, there is a ribbon line set up on Cozy for fans. Each race will also be announced and broadcast live on the Warm Springs Plaza.

Some of the marquis names expected to compete include 2014 Olympic super G silver medalist Andrew Weibrecht and teammates David Chodounsky, Erik Fisher, Travis Ganong, Jared Goldberg, Steve Nyman, Marco Sullivan and Resi Stiegler.

Come cheer on the skiers this weekend and pick up some pointers

Come cheer on the skiers this weekend and pick up some pointers

Sun Valley Resort is throwing a post-race party on Saturday, March 29, at the Warm Springs Plaza to celebrate the athletes and their accomplishments. Live music starts at 2:30 p.m. followed by an awards ceremony at 4 p.m. Post-race awards will also be staged on Monday, March 31, 2:30 p.m., again at Warm Springs Plaza.

Best of luck to all the racers! Thanks for bringing your skills and commitment to Sun Valley’s slopes this spring break.

–RES

 

 

Take a walk through Sun Valley’s history

Sun Valley offers guests a new historical walking tour

Sun Valley offers guests a new historical walking tour

Did you know Groucho Marx was married in the Sun Room? Or that Ernest Hemingway penned For Whom The Bell Tolls in Suite 206? How about the fact that the Hokey Pokey was invented in The Ram? Or that one building at the resort has its foundation’s in Rome’s Coliseum? Historical tidbits such as these and many more can be discovered in Sun Valley’s new historical walking tour, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

The three part tour takes in the interior of the Sun Valley Lodge, the buildings of Sun Valley Village, and historical points of note around the resort’s grounds. Designed to help guests discover one of the most unique elements of a visit to the oldest destination ski resort in the country; its history, the tour delves into popular stories from the resort’s past, as well as revealing some lesser known ones. (The hotel was almost called Ski Haven and early guests scaled Bald Mountain in a “tank.”)

I was lucky enough to have the honor of researching and writing this tour for Sun Valley, and I hope you have as much fun walking through it as I did writing it. 

For history buffs and lovers of Sun Valley however, time is of the essence. Sun Valley Company is undertaking an extensive remodel of the Lodge, beginning in April. The building, originally constructed in 1936, is about to undergo a complete refresh; including refurbishing the guest rooms and updating the lobby, restaurant and other amenities.

So, for one more stroll the Lodge’s history before its facelift, come visit before the workmen move in later this year. Of course, the history will still be there when the new Lodge is revealed in the summer of 2015 – the Holding family, owners of the resort, have stressed that the character of the historic building will be carefully retained. But one thing that won’t be retained is the iconic Lodge Dining Room. The 78-year-old eatery is making way for a state-of-the-art, 20,000 square foot spa facility. The work begins here next month, and the room where Ginger Rogers once tap danced and David O’Selznick punched a banker to preserve the honor of Claudette Colbert will take its final bow.

Jennifer Tuohy

Pick up a copy of the self-guided walking tour at the concierge desk in Sun Valley Lodge. Or, if you can’t make it to the resort, read the tour on the blog:

Click here for Part One: The Sun Valley Lodge

Click here for Part Two: The Sun Valley Village 

Click here for Part Three: Sun Valley Resort

A Fantasy Weekend for Film Lovers

Sun Valley welcomes back the third annual star-studded Sun Valley Film Festival

Sun Valley welcomes back the third annual star-studded Sun Valley Film Festival

Film buffs rejoice! For four spectacular spring days in Sun Valley, the finest narratives, documentaries, shorts and family films will grace big screens all over town.

Welcome back the Sun Valley Film Festival!

Beginning Thursday, March 13, and running through Sunday, March 16, the Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF), recognized by USA Today as one of the “great places for a film festival,” welcomes movie lovers to explore the weekend’s non-stop offerings.

Screenings, coffee talks with movie notables, screenwriters workshops, concerts and music -- it's all part of this weekend's lineup

Screenings, coffee talks with movie notables, screenwriters workshops, concerts and music -- it's all part of this weekend's lineup (photo SVFF)

SVFF HQ, located in the 511 Building in Ketchum (511 Leadville Ave.), opened for business on March 10, selling passes, individual event tickets and event merchandise. Stop by any time between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to make sure you have what you need to get the most of the festival experience.

But the real action will take place around town: from the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum, to the theater at Community School, the Magic Lantern Cinemas in Ketchum and the historic Opera House in Sun Valley. Events include premieres, competitions, screenwriter labs, coffee talks and of course, music and parties.

Please log onto sunvalleyfilmfestival.org for a full schedule, detailed listings and ticket information, but here are some of the highlights:

Coveted awards are up for grabs in many categories

Coveted awards are up for grabs in many categories (photo SVFF)

On Thursday, March 13, the Festival starts out strong with Idaho’s Governor introducing Arie Posin’s The Face of Love, starring Ed Harris and Annette Bening.

Governor Otter said, “We’re so pleased that the Sun Valley Film Festival is returning for its third year this March, and I am pleased to be introducing the opening night screening of The Face of Love. The state of Idaho has a proud filmmaking heritage and we’re all hoping that SVFF and the Gem State have a long and fruitful relationship and can work together to bring more filmmakers to shoot in Idaho.”

That same day, the SVFF will pay tribute to Kevin Smith’s cult movie Clerks but offering a 20th anniversary screening of the film that defined a generation. Things only heat up from there with the amazing J Mascis playing live at Whiskey Jacques’ in Ketchum Thursday night.

In Sun Valley, the action is headquartered at the historic Opera House in Sun Valley Village

In Sun Valley, the action is headquartered at the historic Opera House in Sun Valley Village

The SVFF offers more than 50 features and shorts — something to appeal to everyone. The curated slate of films includes 11 narrative and 15 documentary feature-length works from 11 countries, as well as more than 40 short films. According to the SVFF, Festival partner National Geographic Channels will present three highly anticipated world premieres and announce the winner of the WILD to INSPIRE short film competition, sponsored by Nat Geo WILD, the African Wildlife Foundation and SVFF. The winner will get to study filmmaking and wildlife in Africa with Emmy Award winning cinematographer, Bob Poole.

Many opportunities, including special programs and panels compliment the film schedule. This year, the SVFF signature Coffee Talks again feature top industry insiders including Academy Award® nominated producers Ron Yerxa (Nebraska, Little Miss Sunshine) and Jim Burke (The Descendants, Election), and writer-actor-director Kevin Smith (Clerks), and actor Mariel Hemingway.

Don't miss a minute -- from narratives to documentaries to family-friendly offerings -- there is something for everyone

Don't miss a minute -- from narratives to documentaries to family-friendly offerings -- there is something for everyone

SVFF’s other signature event, the Screenwriters Lab, will be hosted by 2014 Academy Award® nominees, screenwriters Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club) and will feature actors Will McCormack, Alison Pill, and Joshua Leonard, along with Jim Burke and Academy Award® winning screenwriter David Seidler (The King’s Speech).

Sun Valley’s rich filmmaking history certainly continues to grow and evolve with the SVFF. In fact, the SVFF has received attention from the national and international media including the Huffington Post, Town & Country, Indiewire, WIRED, Hammer to Nail, Fandor and a French TV film crew.

“Our goal is to bring in the best films, innovative programs, and high energy events to Sun Valley and we are extremely excited about this year’s festival,” said SVFF executive director Teddy Grennan. “With a solid lineup of new films from around the world, a talent-packed Screenwriters Lab, the special events celebrating the 20th anniversary of Clerks, and guests from all over the country, Sun Valley Film Festival ‘Take 3’ is going to be another hit!”

Tickets are still available to many screenings and events, but don’t delay, they do sell out and you don’t want to miss a frame of the must-see and must-attend festival of the year!

–RES

Family of Women Gather in Sun Valley

Welcome film fans!

Welcome film fans!

The seventh annual Family of Woman Film Festival returned to Sun Valley this week, bringing both rising and established documentary filmmakers to town to screen movies guaranteed to provoke thought, spur conversation and encourage action. This year, the weeklong event, running through March 10, focuses on the subject of education for women throughout the world.

This year’s theme “advocates for the empowerment of women and girls,” according to festival organizers. Events include not only the screening of powerful films at the Sun Valley Opera House, but intimate discussions with the filmmakers, the first Bonni Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women, receptions, events at Ketchum’s Community Library and much more.

On Friday, filmmakers Allison Shigo, Freida Lee Mock and Alexi Pappas joined other directors for an intimate, casual roundtable at the Sun Valley Lodge

On Friday, filmmakers Allison Shigo, Freida Lee Mock and Alexi Pappas joined other directors for an intimate, casual roundtable at the Sun Valley Lodge

On Friday, five filmmakers gathered in the Sun Room at the Sun Valley Lodge to take part in a media roundtable discussion. Filmmakers Allison Shigo, “A Walk to Beautiful,” Academy and Emmy-Award winner Freida Lee Mock, “Anita,” Jeremy Teicher and Alexi Pappas, “Tall as the Baobab Tree,” and Annie Eastman, “Bay of All Saints,” spoke about their projects in a casual, intimate atmosphere.

In addition to discussing their work, the artists all said how much they enjoyed participating at this festival in Sun Valley. Allison Shigo, who first brought her Emmy Award-winning documentary to the 2009 Family of Woman Film Festival and returned for a Filmmaker Update said, “I really enjoy this festival. There are so many fascinating filmmakers and the global perspective is inspiring and thought provoking.”

Annie Eastman said she was enjoying her first trip to Idaho to screen her film, "Bay of All Saints."

Annie Eastman said she was enjoying her first trip to Idaho to screen her film "Bay of All Saints."

This trip marked Eastman’s first time to Idaho and she said she was “just thrilled to have been picked.” She called Family of Woman “such a different festival experience.”

All the filmmakers acknowledged that part of what makes this festival unique is the opportunity to spend time with the other exhibitors, as well as members of the community. “We really get the opportunity to get to know each other,” Eastman said.

Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock's next film focuses on Anita Hill (photo Anita Hill American Film Foundation)

Academy Award winner Freida Lee Mock's next film focuses on Anita Hill (photo Anita Hill American Film Foundation)

Freida Lee Mock, who may be best known for the Oscar-award winning film, “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” said how happy she is to be back in Sun Valley. The film she brought this week, “Anita,” about the life of Anita Hill, will be released nationally in two weeks, so this experience was akin to the calm before the storm. Mock also glanced out the plate glass windows over Dollar Mountain and the iconic outdoor skating rink and smiled, “where else can you go skating, enjoy that amazing hot pool and still draw a fantastic, engaged audience to your film?”

Teicher agreed, “we really wanted to come because of the intimacy of this film festival. It’s a great way to connect with the a passionate audience and the other filmmakers.”

Filmmaker Jeremy Teicher said he appreciates the opportunity to get to know fellow directors at this festival as well as its global nature

Filmmaker Jeremy Teicher said he appreciates the opportunity to get to know fellow directors at this festival as well as its global perspective

Also in attendance was Festival founder Peggy Elliott Goldwyn whose commitment to human rights and the health and dignity of every woman compelled her to create this forum.

The Family of Woman Film Festival is closely aligned with the United Nations Population Fund. Goldwyn joined the board of this organization in 2003 and according to a statement, “one of my main duties was to make the American public aware that the UN had a women’s agency and of the remarkable work it did. My first thought was to use film – but how?” This longtime part-time resident decided Sun Valley was the perfect place to find the support she needed to make this dream a reality.

Three years ago, photographer and philanthropist Stephanie Perenchio joined Goldwyn as co-chair of the festival. The commitment and capability of these two women and the organization’s many volunteers and supporters saw the festival grow. Screenings moved to the Sun Valley Opera House and the festival partnered with the Sun Valley Company to continue to bring the filmmaker’s messages to bigger audiences.

Screenings for the Family of Woman Film Festival take place at Sun Valley's historic Opera House

Screenings for the Family of Woman Film Festival take place at Sun Valley's historic Opera House

Perenchio said in a statement, “It’s one thing to read about intolerance or gender persecution in the newspapers; it’s a significantly different thing to see the stories unfold on the big screen. To have a chance to talk with filmmakers or people featured in these films adds a layer of understanding.”

The passion for the projects this year’s featured filmmakers brought to Sun Valley was readily evident in their careful, thoughtful responses at Friday’s roundtable. While we in Sun Valley may not think every day about issues such as early marriage for Senegalese girls, obstetric fistula in Ethiopia, or the plight of single mothers in Brazil fighting for their homes, audiences here embrace opportunities to learn about issues challenging women throughout the world and look forward to the eighth installment of the Family of Woman Film Festival next spring.

For the festival’s schedule, please click HERE.

–RES

Rev Up for the Rev Tour

Freeskiers and snowboarders brought some major amplitude to Dollar's slopes at this week's Rev Tour stop (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

Freeskiers and snowboarders brought some major amplitude to Dollar's slopes at this week's Rev Tour stop (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

This week, Sun Valley’s Dollar Mountain hosted the high-flying 2014 Pop-Tarts U.S. Revolution Tour, otherwise known as the Rev Tour. Sun Valley was the final stop for the tour and brought energy and mad skills to Dollar’s amazing terrain park and 22-foot superpipe.

“We’re excited to host the Rev Tour for the second consecutive year and watch this sport’s promising young athletes perform at this world-class venue,” said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley Resort Director of Marketing. Dollar Mountain’s Olympic-size halfpipe and Olympic-size jumps with more than 73 terrain features gave the athletes a lot to play on.

Athletes flew on Dollar's Terrain Park (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

Athletes flew on Dollar's Terrain Park (photo courtesy Cody Haskell)

The Rev Tour featured events in halfpipe and slopestyle for both freeskiing and snowboarding. Since The Rev Tour stop is a 4-star TTR (Ticket to Ride) event for snowboarding as well as an AFP (Association of Freeskiing Professionals) bronze and FIS (International Ski Federation) NorAm event for freeskiing, it brought top athletes to Sun Valley. The competition was fierce.

Some of the country's up-and-coming snowsports athletes brought style and skills to Sun Valley this week (photo Cody Haskell)

Some of the country's up-and-coming snowsports athletes brought style and skills to Sun Valley this week (photo Cody Haskell)

Tuesday was devoted to halfpipe skiing and Wednesday to slopestyle skiing. Sun Valley native Ben Verge, coach of the US Freeskiing Team that just earned two gold medals at the Sochi Olympics, was among the spectators on Dollar scouting new and up-and-coming talent. Who knows which of the athletes soaring around Dollar this week might next represent Team USA. Thursday was all about halfpipe snowboarding and the Tour concluded Friday with slopestyle snowboarding.

Sun Valley is the birthplace of freeskiing, with early pioneers like Bobbie Burns and Penelope Street, using every available seam, dip, contour and cat track to redefine the sport. From the 1970s on, skiers and snowboarders continued to evolve freestyle in Sun Valley. The competitors at the Rev Tour are taking the sport to the next level, though, setting the bar, literally, higher and higher.

Sun Valley's 73 terrain features and 22-foot superpipe provided plenty of opportunities to play (photo Cody Haskell)

Sun Valley's 73 terrain features and 22-foot superpipe provided plenty of opportunities to play (photo Cody Haskell)

According to the U.S. Snowboarding website, “The U.S. Revolution Tour has proved to be a progressive venue for today’s top junior riders to take the competitive stage in halfpipe, slopestyle, and snowboardcross. The tour is designed to serve as a stepping-stone for athletes making the transition from competing at the grassroots level to the elite level. The series pre-qualifies a portion of its field and then opens registration to any athlete, but is focused towards riders 13-19 years old. Top winners may earn an invite to be part of the U.S. Grand Prix, Junior Worlds, the U.S. Open, USASA Nationals, and participate in Project Gold camps.”

Congratulations to all the athletes and these podium winners. Pictured are snowboard halfpipe champions, Maddie Mastro, Hailey Langland and Kirby Kelly (photo U.S. Revolution Tour)

Congratulations to all the athletes and these podium winners. Pictured are snowboard halfpipe champions, Maddie Mastro, Hailey Langland and Kirby Kelly (photo U.S. Revolution Tour)

It is amazing to see these up-and-coming athletes on our slopes. Congratulations to all of them and thank you for coming to Sun Valley to share your skills and some major amplitude.

–RES