Dateline: River Run, November 28, 2013, 8:50 a.m. The excitement at the base of River Run was palpable as a large, happy group gathered on the plaza under bright blue skies and a warm sun. Friends reunited, families convened, the sound of buckles and bindings snapping into place competed with the whir of the chair lift’s motor.
Yes, at exactly 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, the first lucky foursome hopped onto the River Run #1 lift, hooting and hollering on their inaugural ride up Bald Mountain for the 2013-2014 season. Behind them, every other chair filled quickly, transporting the hundreds of expectant skiers and snowboarders to their first magical turns of the year. Sun Valley’s 78th season was off to a great start.
At 8:50 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, skiers and riders were ready to get their first turns
The first holiday gift of the season from Sun Valley Company opened 11 runs, a Progressive Park, two magic carpets and four-high speed quads on Baldy and Dollar to the anxious snow sports masses. Some early season natural snow, combined with Sun Valley’s world-class, standard-setting snowmaking provided a great corduroy surface for enthusiasts. The smiles and thumbs up from the first skiers and boarders down River Run told the story, as they quickly queued back up for another run. Top-to-bottom vertical lured people to Baldy this year, with Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street, Roundhouse Lane, Roundhouse Slope, Lower Canyon, Mid River Run and Lower River Run available for skiing and riding.
Great snow greeted riders and skiers
In the morning, River Run Lodge provided a calm place to coax feet into boots still stiff from the off-season; to enjoy a cup of coffee and a pastry. At lunchtime, River Run and Lookout atop Baldy were open to provide nourishment and refreshment on Baldy.
Dollar was quieter, but still welcoming skiers to the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar. Snow guns were fired up all over the mountain, readying additional runs and Dollar’s amazing terrain park for operation during the coming holiday season. Dollar will continue daily operation through December 1 and then close until re-opening for the season December 14, so be sure to get over there this weekend to play in early season snow. Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge is open to enjoy a snack or meal and Kindercare is available.
Check back to sunvalley.com or call 800-635-4150 for the most current reports on conditions and terrain.
We are all thankful this weekend for our beautiful ski mountains, family, friends, clean air and sunshine. Opening day was an exciting kick-off to what is sure to be the best season ever in Sun Valley! See you on the slopes.
Anyone who has come to Sun Valley with their family knows that there is no better place, no matter your age, to enjoy a memorable, unique experience. The readers of Travel and Leisure agree. In the magazine’s just released 18th annual “World’s Best Awards 2013” results, discerning readers were polled and asked to cast their vote for the best of the best hotels, destinations, and companies that define the very finest in travel.
Year-round, Sun Valley is for families
In the category of top Family Hotels, Sun Valley Resort was voted #38 out of the top 50. With our year-round recreational opportunities, three pools, eight restaurants, caring childcare, extensive kids’ programs, and family-friendly atmosphere, Sun Valley was among very few mountain resorts to receive the recognition.
As the winter season begins in earnest, it is readily apparent that Sun Valley is the premiere cold weather destination for families. With the Sun Valley Snow Sports School gearing up for the best season ever, specially trained instructors who love working with children will offer little shredders the best experience possible on the slopes. Based from the gorgeous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge and River Run on Bald Mountain, full-day ski lessons are available for children ages 4 – 12 and snowboarding for ages 6 – 12. Lessons include four hours of on-snow instruction and a healthy hot lunch the kids will actually eat!
Happiness is children on Sun Valley's snowy slopes
The epic Terrain Park at Dollar is another reason Sun Valley is family-central. With the only 22-foot Superpipe in the northwest and constantly growing and evolving jumps and park features, it is really one huge white playground. Sun Valley’s Adventure Trails on Baldy are also a family favorite. These trails that cut into glades on all sides of the mountain, provide narrow, banking, rolling runs that are wildly popular with the younger set. All are designed to meet up with traditional runs, so adults who choose not to follow their kids in, are always within earshot of the “woo hoo” cheers coming from the trees.
Snowshoeing and cross country skiing also make Sun Valley the best choice for families. Five-year-olds can snowshoe with their 75-year-old grandmothers on beautiful trails that highlight some of the area’s most scenic vistas. Cross country skiing is something the entire family can do, as well, and the finest instruction and gear rental are available at the lovely Sun Valley Club.
With the first visit to Sun Valley, every member of the family, whether their “children” are toddlers or adults, will agree with the readers of Travel and Leisure that the Resort is a pretty special place for families. Start a tradition that lasts generations by bringing your clan to Sun Valley this winter. You will quickly understand what all the accolades are about!
Sun Valley is magical for families, especially at the holidays. Here, children enjoy brunch with Santa at the Lodge Dining Room
Award-winning photographer Hillary Mayberry's images perfectly capture the romance and rustic feel of this spectacular summer Trail Creek wedding (photos courtesy of Hillary Mayberry)
It is a fantasy for many couples planning their dream wedding. Friends and family arrive in Sun Valley from all over the country, and the world, for a weekend unlike any other. Depending on the season, the days leading up to the “I do’s” might include organized hikes and bike rides or a guided tour of Baldy on skis or snowboard. How about a wagon ride or sleigh ride through the picturesque Idaho countryside? A morning of fly-fishing? A party at the Gun Club or a few laps around Sun Valley’s pristine, world-famous Nordic tracks? Fabulous meals featuring fresh, local seasonal dishes keep everyone’s energy up for what comes next.
So many possibilities exist to share this special place with wedding guests and wedding party, creating a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
The stunning bride, Kate Bentley, who grew up part time in Sun Valley, prepares for her walk up the aisle at Trail Creek
While many have married in Sun Valley style through the decades, the choice is now more popular than ever according to Kat Stansberry of Sun Valley’s Catering Department.Trends in nuptial planning emphasize the unique, the special, the non-cookie cutter event, and that is what Sun Valley does so perfectly.
Natural, rustic touches set a perfect backdrop for the nuptials, as did a gorgeous summer day
The beautiful bride grew up part time in Sun Valley and was quoted as saying, “Keith and I had little doubt about where we wanted to hold our celebration. For as long as I can remember, my family has spent time nearly every summer and winter in Sun Valley so it was an easy call for me. And after seven years of dating, Keith (a born and bred New Englander) had grown to love the location as much as my family. But most importantly, we associated Sun Valley with memories we had made together, a quality that made this picturesque mountain town a slam dunk.”
It was the attention to detail and the spectacular way the wedding complimented the surroundings and the surroundings complimented the wedding that made this sacred celebration stand out (though a gorgeous couple and a perfect summer day didn’t hurt either). Stansberry said she saw many current wedding trends perfectly executed in these creekside nuptials, from the use of natural and rustic materials, to seasonal flowers to personal do-it-yourself touches.
The wedding's themes continued to set the tone in the reception tent
This summer wedding captured so perfectly by Mayberry showcased the quality of the light and the splendor of the season, a pastiche that changes every week, and sometimes even numerous times during a single day, in the mountains. Though July and August are the most popular wedding months in Sun Valley, each season offers unique and jaw dropping possibilities.
Stansberry thinks (and I agree) the prettiest month to get married is September. “The weather is ideal, town isn’t terribly crowded, the leaves are changing,” she said. “It’s spectacular.” Winter weddings in Sun Valley are memorable, too, providing so many opportunities to play in the snow and then gather by the fire, creating a cozy, intimate atmosphere.
As varied as the seasons are Sun Valley venues perfect for gatherings of any size. Smaller events are a wonderful fit for Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge or the historic Roundhouse Restaurant perched two-thirds up Bald Mountain. River Run Lodge and Trail Creek Cabin accommodate bigger groups, with River Run comfortably holding 250 partygoers. If an early evening is what the couple desires, the always-elegant Lodge Dining Room invites revelry until 10 p.m. During the colder season, from October 1 through May 1, brides may also walk up the aisle at the elegant Sun Valley Club.
Sunflowers have never looked so elegant
Sun Valley staffs a coordinator who works exclusively with brides and grooms and their families. “We are not full-service wedding planners, but will help organize the event. We put families in touch with wedding professionals and vendors for every need — flowers, photography, tabletops, even hair and nail service providers,” Stansberry explained.Once the date is chosen, there is a wide and deep team of creative, consummate local wedding professionals to help make the couple’s vision a reality.
Stansberry said the Resort hears from brides and grooms up to 15 months before a desired wedding date, and Sun Valley can go into contract for the chosen venue up to 12 months before the big day. “One thing we’re seeing more of is mothers-of-the-bride calling to whisper that their daughter is getting engaged soon and they want to reserve a date even before the ring is on the bride’s finger,” Stansberry laughed.
Sun Valley is the ideal place to exchange vows and to share this timeless, classic and elegant location with the most special people in your life.
At my own September wedding, way back in 1995, the party moved from Trail Creek to the Lodge Dining Room and made a stop at the outdoor ice rink for some impromptu pre-dessert skating. That's what you get for inviting a hockey team to your wedding. You never know what will happen at a Sun Valley celebration!
Foodies are counting down the days to the start of the popular, informative and full-of-fun Sun Valley Harvest Festival, coming to town next week. From September 19 to the 22nd, Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge, the streets of Ketchum and even Roundhouse Restaurant will pulsate with the smells of delicious locally-sourced cuisine, the spectacle of food prep demonstrations, the wisdom and insight of famous guest chefs and the sights of everything you need to improve dinner time at your own home. If you like food – and who doesn’t – this is a can’t-miss weekend.
One of the highlights of four full days of memorable events is sure to be the Martini & Caviar party on Saturday, September 21, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This year, the event gets even better with a move up Bald Mountain to the historic and charming Roundhouse Restaurant. Perched at 7,700 feet above the valley floor, Roundhouse is probably one of the best party rooms in the Lower 48. And the Martinis and caviar are sure to be as spectacular as the surroundings when Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko creates his culinary magic in the thin air.
Inventive cocktails and caviar -- what could be better?
Festivities begin when you are greeted with a glass of Michelle sparkling wine and whisked up to Roundhouse on the gondola. The scenic ride sets the tone for what is to come. Once ensconced at Roundhouse, Murcko, a James Beard Award Semi-Finalist and food visionary, will get the party started in earnest. Carefully crafted hors d’oeuvres featuring local Idaho sturgeon caviar will delight the palate, especially when paired with artisanal cocktails fashioned from Square One Organic Spirits. Mixologist with the most, Ryan Sullivan, is sure to create flavors perfect for the occasion.
Back on the valley floor, Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge will also be a hub of activity all weekend long. Starting on Saturday, September 21, the lawns at the base of Dollar will be transformed into a Harvest Marketplace. Be sure to spend some quality time with hand-selected purveyors from around the Pacific Northwest and West Coast. Specialty food producers and local and regional farmers will be in attendance, and the latest and greatest in kitchen appliances and cookware will be on display.
When dining at Roundhouse, getting there is half the fun
Also at Dollar, catch Guest Chef Demonstrations under the big tent all day September 21, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Join acclaimed chefs including Rodrigo Bueno, Akasha Richmond, Tina Ruggiero, Tal Ronnen and Scot Jones and Malika Ameen who are in Sun Valley from all over the country as they demonstrate topics ranging from “Buy Local, Cook Global,” to “Sweet and Spicy: Unique Twists for Flavorful Baking.” After each cooking demonstration, you will enjoy a sample of the chef’s creation with a specially selected wine from one of the Festival’s featured wineries.
Finally, at this lovely venue on Sunday, be sure to get your tickets to the Grand Tasting. This benefit for the Sun Valley Culinary Institute might be the highlight of your year food-wise. Sample seasonal offerings from local chefs and specialty food makers. Wines, beer from the Sawtooth Brewery and spirits from Idaho’s own Distilled Resources will add to the merriment. The Grand Tasting will also feature 20-minute breakout sessions covering topics from coffee to tea; nut butters to chocolate.
What do you get when you add Sun Valley Executive Chef John Murcko and caviar? Epicurean magic, that's what!
For the entire Harvest Festival schedule and for ticket information, please click HERE.
Students from the nearby Community School volunteer at last year's event
Now might be a good time to start eating just a little less every day to make sure you are hungry for the Sun Valley Harvest Festival. The food is not only plentiful, but divinely delicious. You won’t want to miss a bite!
The base of Dollar Mountain was the place to be Saturday night at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' Grand Wine Tasting Picnic & Concert
Dionysus, the Greek god of the grape harvest, winemaking, wine and ritual madness smiled down on Sun Valley last weekend. The Sun Valley Center for the Arts again pulled off an over-the-top, hugely successful Wine Auction weekend, raising critical funds to support arts programming in the Wood River Valley.
A big top was erected on the grassy lawn at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge under which hundreds gathered Friday night to raise their paddles and bid on once-in-a-lifetime auction items, all while enjoying sublime wine and fabulous food. The high-flying performance troupe Cirque Berzerk dazzled the capacity crowd and a great time was had for a great cause.
On Saturday night, the three-day event ended on a high note with the highly anticipated picnic that is always a locals’ favorite, though people come to Sun Valley from around the country and around the world for this weekend. Hosting a sell-out crowd of upwards of 1200, this year’s picnic switched things up a bit, offering a grand wine tasting as well as fabulous fare and a live concert.
The event offered a wide selection vintages to taste and to savor
Northwest and California wines were available for the sampling and enjoying and food from 20 local restaurants tempted the taste buds. Sun Valley was in on the action, too, as the Resort’s Executive Chef John Murcko donned his whites and helped prepare delicious hard spiced duck pastrami, served with a rye crisp, potato salad, grilled radicchio and apricot. Other food choices ran the gamut from Halibut Ceviche to wood-fired pizzas; Italian Gazpacho to Wagyu beef meatballs. There was an entire tent devoted to dessert.
Sun Valley Resort Executive Chef John Murcko (right) helped feed well over 1000 people under the big tent
In past years, the Wine Auction weekend offered a separate wine tasting event. This year, however, seven vintners set up near the Quarter Dollar lift, offering insight and information on the wines they poured. It was evident that people enjoyed tasting vintages they don’t see every day.
Brooklyn-based funk band Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds provided a dare-you-to-stay-seated soundtrack to the evening and was a highlight in a night full of highlights.
And if that wasn’t enough, on Thursday night, the weekend kicked off with Tapas and Tasting with the Junior Patrons Circle and exclusive Vintner Dinners at private area homes.
Sun Valley's Brad and Kirsten Cleveland said hosting a Vintner Dinner Thursday night was a fantastic experience
The SVCA event is the second oldest charity wine auction in the U.S. and the Center’s primary fundraising event. In addition to funding vital programming, monies raised also support scholarships for art students and educators.