To Denver and Back

Last week, I traveled to Houston and home again, taking advantage of the brand-new nonstop United Express service connecting Sun Valley and the major hub of Denver. What a pleasure it was! We flew out on the morning flight that departs Sun Valley at 7:30 a.m., arriving in Denver at 9:11 a.m. Check-in and security were a breeze despite the fact that two other nonstop jets to great connecting cities (Delta to Salt Lake City and United Express to San Francisco) also go out in the morning.

Getting to Sun Valley via Denver on United is a great new option for travelers

Getting to Sun Valley via Denver on United is a great new option for travelers

The planes are large and fast and comfortable with the leg to Denver taking no time at all. The return to Sun Valley, that leaves Denver at 6:52 p.m. and arrives back at Friedman Memorial Airport at 8:40 p.m. is just as convenient. After you land, it’s a quick 20-minute ride to the Sun Valley area. After a good night’s sleep, our vast playground awaits!

The trip south offered easy connections, good flight schedules and competitive rates. My friend who has traveled to Houston a lot and tried many different connections, said this is by far the easiest and most convenient. I imagine that is true for other flights that can connect through Denver from all over the country and the world.

The new nonstop jet service is comfortable, convenient and quick

The new nonstop jet service is comfortable, convenient and quick

Though I live here and this new flight offers me limitless connections to move around the country and the world, it also makes getting to Sun Valley easier than ever. I flew to Sun Valley for 25 years from the east coast before moving here and well remember the days before direct service from Denver. Let’s just say back in the proverbial day there were a lot of stops and serious time in rental cars!

With flights to Sun Valley now originating in Salt Lake City, Seattle (Alaska Air), San Francisco, Los Angeles (Alaska Air) and Denver, the number of ways to quickly and easily arrive in paradise have increased dramatically.

More great news on the travel front was announced Monday as the Fly Sun Valley Alliance confirmed that the great nonstop service we are so enjoying this summer, will again be offered during ski season. When the snow flies, flights from Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake and Seattle will begin in December and run through March for the 2014-15 snow season, getting you from home to Sun Valley’s storied slopes more easily than ever.

You'll be here ...

You'll be here ...

... and here before you know it!

... and here before you know it!

Alaska Airlines will connect Seattle and Sun Valley and Los Angeles and Sun Valley from December 18 to March 29. United Express will provide service between San Francisco and Sun Valley from December 18 to March 29 as well, and Denver to Sun Valley daily from December 18 to January 5 then Saturdays from January 10 to February 7 and Wednesdays and Saturdays from February 11 to March 28. Delta flies to Sun Valley every day year round from Salt Lake City with three flights daily during peak winter periods and two flights daily otherwise. Start thinking snow!

“We worked closely with the airlines and our partners to add the right mix of seat capacity and schedules to match the variable demand periods, with strong capacity during the holidays, February and March, and a bit less in January and April,” said Carol Waller, Director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance. “There will also be a significantly expanded marketing program to ensure we have a successful winter season and fill all these flights coming into Sun Valley.”

Flights are available for booking at www.alaskaair.com, www.united.com, and www.delta.com. A complete flight schedule is available at www.flysunvalleyalliance.com.

Welcome to Sun Valley! Prepare to have some fun

Welcome to Sun Valley! Prepare to have some fun

No matter if you’re coming from Houston or anywhere else that flies to Denver (or San Francisco or Los Angeles or Seattle or Salt Lake City for that matter), make the connection and book Sun Valley as your final destination. You’ll be really happy you did!

–RES

Sun Valley Welcomes the Mile High City

On July 2, the inaugural flight linking Sun Valley and Denver with direct service on United Airlines touched down. Welcome!

On July 2, the inaugural flight linking Sun Valley and Denver with direct service on United Airlines touched down. Welcome!

The cheers went up as the wheels touched down on July 2 when the first United Airlines flight connecting Denver and Sun Valley landed. The inaugural flight flew through a beautiful early dusk summer night, arriving at Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) in Hailey at 8:40 p.m. The flight was completely full and the new service got a unanimous thumbs-up from the passengers and community representatives who welcomed them.

Just in time for the busy holiday weekend, passengers deplaned, easily grabbed their luggage and knew they could be in Sun Valley proper after a short and scenic 20-minute drive. After a good night’s sleep the weekend possibilities were endless: fly fishing, hiking, biking, tennis, golf, Sun Valley On Ice, parades, fireworks, horseback riding … the sky is the limit.

This passenger captured the spirit of the day upon landing in Sun Valley for the busy holiday weekend (photo Fly Sun Valley Alliance)

This passenger captured the spirit of the day upon landing in Sun Valley for the busy holiday weekend (photo Fly Sun Valley Alliance)

With daily, nonstop flights from Denver (United), Los Angeles (Alaska Air), San Francisco (United), Seattle (Alaska Air) and Salt Lake City (Delta) it has never been easier to plan your dream vacation in Sun Valley.

Welcome to paradise! It's going to be an amazing summer (photo Fly Sun Valley Alliance)

Welcome to paradise! It's going to be an amazing summer (photo Fly Sun Valley Alliance)

Below, please find the flight schedule for the latest flights to paradise:

Daily nonstop fights to/from San Francisco (SFO):
CRJ 700 – 70 passenger regional jet with first class and economy seating
Service runs daily July 2 through August 25 and five times per week until September 23
• Departs SFO 5:30 p.m., arrives SUN 8:19 pm
• Departs SUN 8:35 a.m., arrives SFO 9:31 a.m.

Daily nonstop flights to/from Denver (DEN)
CRJ 700 – 70 passenger regional jet with first class and economy seating
Service runs daily July 2 through August 25 and five times per week through September 23
• Departs DEN 6:52 p.m. – arrives SUN 8:40 p.m.
• Departs SUN 7:34 a.m. – arrives DEN 9:15 a.m.

Everyone agrees that direct service from Denver deserves a thumbs-up

Everyone agrees that direct service from Denver deserves a thumbs-up

Welcome Mile High City and everyone that enjoys connecting through Denver. We are really happy you are here. Have a happy, safe Fourth of July weekend.

–RES

New jet service is cause for celebration

Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) servicing the Sun Valley Resort area has become party central this winter. On Monday, the champagne flowed, cake and ribbons were cut and a water arch cascaded on the runway as Sun Valley welcomed the first Delta regional jet to the tarmac at 12:31 p.m.

On Monday, Sun Valley cheered new Delta regional jet service from Salt Lake City

On Monday, Sun Valley cheered new Delta regional jet service from Salt Lake City

The flight that originated in Salt Lake City, Utah, touched down amid cheers. Why is everyone so excited? According to Friedman Memorial Airport manager Rick Baird in a prepared statement, “We believe this new jet aircraft, along with very competitive new fares and enhanced cooperative marketing with Delta Air Lines, will encourage more people to fly SUN. We are doing everything we can, including significant airport improvements and air service enhancements, to make flying into and out of Sun Valley the best choice for air travelers,”

Passengers on this inaugural flight were welcomed with goody bags, cake and champagne

Passengers on this inaugural flight were welcomed with goody bags, cake and champagne

Delta Connection carrier SkyWest Airlines will operate the new flights that use 65-seat, two-class Bombardier CRJ-700s aircraft. New on this route are the nine First Class seats, eight Economy Comfort seats, 48 economy seats as well as on-board Wi-Fi. My guess is everyone will wish that the flight lasted longer than the approximate one hour in the air.

This new service adds approximately 4000 additional Delta seats into Sun Valley from Salt Lake City, one of the nation’s biggest hubs. There are three round-trip flights four to five times per week during peak season between February 14 and March 31, three round-trip flights daily during the summer season from May 22 to September 1 and two round-trip flights daily during the spring and fall.

Flights can be booked at www.delta.com.

Air service into Sun Valley is also provided by Alaska Airlines and United Airlines making it easier than ever to get here.

Visitors arriving on Monday can expect some great skiing and riding from USA Today's #2 Ski Destination in America

Visitors arriving on Monday can expect some great skiing and riding from USA Today's #2 Ski Destination in North America

And no matter how you get here, it’s worth the trip. While Mother Nature is wreaking havoc on the east coast and being stingy with snow in the west, in Sun Valley, the skiing and riding are terrific. Last week, the resort opened the only 22-foot superpipe in the Pacific Northwest, adding terrain and thrills to those ready to drop in.

With the best and largest computerized snowmaking system in North America, it’s super on our slopes right now. Both the quality and amount of snow being made are getting a consistent thumbs up. 552 snowmaking guns have been hard at work covering 645 acres of groomable terrain, enabling 14 lifts and 56 runs to be up and running across Baldy and Dollar. The word on the hill is that the skiing is really good, just be sure to bring the sunscreen.

Welcome to Sun Valley!

Welcome to Sun Valley!

“We’re seeing a lot of smiling faces and it’s been very rewarding to hear the guest comments,” said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley’s spokesperson. “We have to give credit to the mountain department. To have worked as hard as they have to get as much of the mountain open as they have is really impressive.”

Find out for yourself why USA Today recently named Sun Valley the No. 2 Ski Destination in the North America. An expert panel of ski and snowboard enthusiasts and travel writers selected what they felt represented the “Top 10” ski destinations in the country. The choices were then put to a vote by the public with Sun Valley emerging as the second best behind the region of South Lake Tahoe in a very tight race.

The 22-foot superpipe on Dollar is again open for the season. Feel free to drop in

The 22-foot superpipe on Dollar is again open for the season. Feel free to drop in!

It has been a great year for Sun Valley as we were also named a Top 10 Travel Destination in North American by the Lonely Planet travel media group, the 4th Best Ski Resort in North America by SKI Magazine, and one of the Top 8 Ski Towns in North America by Powder Magazine.

And there are still months of winter ahead to enjoy this award-winning place! Hop a regional jet, reserve your room and come enjoy everything that makes Sun Valley so special.

–RES

Let the Countdown Begin!

It’s beginning to look a lot like ski season, especially from a vantage point two-thirds of the way up Bald Mountain. According to my father, who hikes Baldy a few times each week, the early season is looking good. Indeed, Sun Valley’s famous snowmaking is in full swing with an expected opening date for runs on both Baldy and Dollar of Thanksgiving Day, November 28.

Everyone is hard at work on Bald Mountain, making snow and laying it out in preparation for a Thanksgiving open

Everyone is hard at work on Bald Mountain, making snow and laying it out in preparation for a Thanksgiving open

Sun Valley Company first fired up the snow guns on October 26 and the weather has, for the most part, been cooperating in the effort to lay down that base of fluffy white. If the cold snap and snow that is expected to begin this weekend hold, come Thanksgiving Day, skiers and snowboarders can expect to be making their first turns of the season down Upper College, Lower College, Sunset Strip, 42nd Street and Lower River Run on Baldy; and on Poverty Flats, Quarter Dollar Bowl and a Progressive Park on Dollar. On Bald Mountain, early season runs will be accessible via the No. 1 River Run and No. 5 Lookout Express detachable quad lifts. On Dollar, all fun in the snow will be via the Quarter Dollar quad lift and the Accelerator Carpet.

Sun Valley Resort boasts the largest snowmaking system in North America. On Baldy alone, there are 577 snow guns. The vast majority of the snowmaking system is computerized and automated, allowing for the most exacting snow making product that takes into account local air temperature, local air pressure and local water temperature. Dollar’s snowmaking relies on a manual system but is also a well-oiled machine.

Picture yourself here -- on Lower College -- in just two weeks' time

Picture yourself here -- on Lower College -- in just two weeks' time

No matter the chemistry and mechanics behind snowmaking, it is the poetry of the first airborne flakes accumulating in lush, puffy piles that most excites snow sports enthusiasts. The huge piles that are created on runs before being pushed into place remind me of the autumn leaf piles of my Connecticut childhood. You simply want to jump in and roll around in them. 

It certainly looks like it’s going to be an amazing ski and snowboard season in Sun Valley. Outside Online just named Warm Springs top-to-bottom one of “Five Runs You Need to Ride Before you Die,” citing the run’s elegance and uninterrupted fall line.  Sun Valley was also named the fourth best ski resort by Ski Magazine and a pick of “Where to Ski Now” by Men’s Journal.  On a related note, Fodor’s Travel named the Sun Valley outdoor ice rink one of the best 15 in the nation.

The piles of snow are piling up on Dollar in preparation for great runs and our epic terrain park

The piles of snow are piling up on Dollar in preparation for great runs and our epic terrain park

New regional jet service on Delta Airlines between Sun Valley and Salt Lake City will begin in January, the first direct flights from San Francisco to Sun Valley land starting on December 12, also on Delta, and Alaska Airlines announced it is expanding nonstop flight service between Sun Valley and Los Angeles and Sun Valley and Seattle. Getting here has never been easier.

But wait! There’s more! This weekend, the National Weather Service is predicting “the first significant snow event of the season,” in Sun Valley, bringing with it the possibility of up to seven inches of powder in the mountains.

With an anticipated Thanksgiving open, there is still time to get in on great early season stay and ski packages at the Sun Valley Resort. Come and enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving feast at the Sun Valley Inn and stay through the weekend to get in the first runs of what is sure to be a superb season.

T-minus two weeks.  Not that I am counting.

–RES

For some anxious skiers, two weeks is too long to wait to get in some turns!

For some anxious skiers, two weeks is too long to wait to get in some turns!