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!
Mother’s Day is a holiday for which most children and spouses truly want to create a relaxing, special day for the mom in their lives. But good intentions don’t always lead to great results. It can be a day of high expectations and occasionally high stress for those left in charge of plans. Let’s face it — sometimes it is hard to know exactly what to do for the person who does so much.
Crisp linens and peace & quiet await
Sun Valley to the rescue! The Resort is offering a special package especially tailored to what moms want. If relaxation, pampering and a memorable experience are what you’re after, your search is over. There isn’t a mom out there (this mom of three included — hint) who wouldn’t love a getaway to, or even a staycation, in Sun Valley.
First, Mom will check in to a luxury room in the Inn or Lodge (where someone else will make the beds) for a special rate of $225 on Saturday night, May 11. But that pays for much more than a fantastically comfortable bed and the finest linens; it also includes Sunday Brunch for two at the elegant Lodge Dining Room. This famous brunch offers dozens of dishes to tantalize a mother’s taste buds.She can indulge at as many stations as she desires and treat herself to dessert without having to think even for a moment about dishes. Settled in beneath crystal chandeliers with white linens, silver and sparkling stemware, she will feel as important as she is.
Relax and get pampered at the Sun Valley Salon & Spaaah....
But wait, there’s more! For the ultimate in mom downtime, she will also receive a one-hour massage at the Sun Valley Salon & Spa. Her cares will float away beneath strong hands, a pampering and attentive atmosphere, far removed from her regular responsibilities. If you really want to wow mom, add a luxurious manicure and pedicure or facial to her stay. And be sure to make time to soak in one of the hot outdoor pools. Order her a cocktail to sip on the deck and she will really feel like she is off-duty!
Keep the love going by adding Friday or Sunday night to the package for just $100 a night (prices do not include taxes or resort fees).
If an overnight is not in the cards, be sure to at least enjoy brunch on Sunday. Service begins for this highly popular meal at 9 a.m. and runs through 2 p.m. No reservations are necessary and the feast runs $36 for adults and $21 for children 12 and under.
Brunch is a family affair in the elegant Lodge Dining Room
For room reservations, call 888-978-3475.
Mother’s Day is a holiday with history that stretches back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It is a wonderful way to honor and show your appreciation for the woman in your life who makes a difference daily in the life of a family.
Book today! She deserves it! And it will certainly go over better than that gadget from the hardware store or that small appliance you think she just might like, but she probably won’t …
It's beginning to look a lot like Easter in Sun Valley
Easter weekend is quickly approaching and it is worth taking a moment to mark your calendar so as not to miss any of the exciting activities in Sun Valley. From the slopes, to restaurants, to lawns strewn with brightly colored eggs, there is something for everyone!
On the mountains, as the season winds down, Ketchum is in a party mood. Dollar Dayz takes place starting on Saturday, celebrating another great season on that hill. Closing day on Dollar is Sunday, March 31, and to celebrate, come out for a CandyGrind Rail Jam on the amazing Terrain Park and the hilarious annual Cold Bowl Pond Skim.
Sunday's Cold Bowl Pond Skim is always a highlight of the season
The Rail Jam takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Rail Yard. Entry is free with registration at Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge ticket window. The 4th annual Pond Skim splashes off at 10 a.m. on Sunday, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. Costumes are strongly encouraged. If you have never seen the pond skim, it features a huge “pool” of cold water, dug into the base of Dollar that skiers and snowboarders attempt to skim over, landing safely at the other side. Some make it, some don’t, but no matter what, it’s a raucous good time.
Both events feature music, food and beverages. The weather promises to cooperate with weekend highs predicted in the mid 50s under a springtime Idaho sun.
Local snowboard star Chase Josey shows off Slopestyle similar to what will be on display on Saturday's Rail Jam on Dollar (photo courtesy of the Josey family)
Baldy will be festive this weekend, too. Young ski racers will participate in the annual Hobson Memorial Race on Warm Springs on Friday at 10 a.m. Again, in true Ketchum style, costumes are encouraged. The Hawaiian Nationals, a side-by-side dual slalom race for telemark skiers and snowboarders, takes place on Warm Springs on Saturday at noon. For this, costumes are de rigueur. The final Ski Club race of the season goes off Sunday, again on Warm Springs, at 10 a.m. It will be a dual parallel giant slalom that is age handicapped. All are welcome.
Easter will be celebrated in Sun Valley at the Lodge Dining Room with a bountiful brunch served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Leanna Leach will tickle the ivories and food and festivity will be plentiful. The cost is $36 for adults and $21 for children 12 and under. Bonnets are optional.
And what is Easter without an Easter Egg Hunt? Thankfully, you won’t need to find out. On Friday, all children ages 10 and under are invited to search for oodles of eggs at Sun Valley Inn Pond, starting promptly at 4:30 p.m. Bring your baskets and stop by the Village Toy Store at 3:30 for face painting. Retailers are offering a special egg hunt for parents, too.
March, in Sun Valley, is definitely not going out like a lamb!
A lavish Easter Brunch awaits at the Lodge Dining Room
Idaho Potato Pillows with American caviar tempt at the LDR
The Lodge Dining Room (or LDR to those in the know) holds a special place in my heart. For years and years, one of my family’s foremost holiday traditions was dinner at the Lodge Dining Room every December 23. Through the decades, our ever-growing clan (boyfriends and girlfriends, then husbands and wives, then one … two, finally seven grandchildren) dressed in our holiday finest and journeyed to the Lodge for a wonderful meal, live music and a serenade from Sun Valley’s storied carolers. When the LDR closed for dinner a few years ago, my mother was visibly upset – one of our most treasured traditions was no more.
Her smile has returned because the LDR is again open for dinner and we managed to reserve a table for eight on the 23rd. With the return of the tradition, though, come some exciting changes. In fact, at last night’s grand re-opening of the history-rich restaurant, while I obviously knew I was seated in the room where I had dined many times, I found myself doing a quick reality check – the food was so sophisticated, so new. Was I still in Sun Valley?
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The doors to the Lodge Dining Room are open once again
For weeks, I have been hearing about a fantastic new chef who is transforming Sun Valley into a foodie Mecca. Who is this shining knight? His name is John Murcko, a man credited for single-handedly elevating cuisine in Utah from pedestrian to gourmet. With an emphasis on quality, creativity and professionalism, Chef Murcko’s vision and execution is transforming food in every Sun Valley venue; from the mountain day lodges to the elegant LDR.
A dish you don't see every day in Idaho -- Lobster Thermidor
But I am getting ahead of myself.
The LDR is the fine dining jewel in Sun Valley’s culinary crown and anticipation was palpable last night as the doors opened. Would the food live up to the hype? Would Chef Murcko usher in a new era of Sun Valley dining? The short answer is yes. When my best friend and I were comfortably seated next to the picture windows, an amuse bouche arrived at our table. The combination of perfectly cooked scallop and crunchy accoutrements was a leading indicator that things really have changed for the better.
I am, by all accounts, a picky eater who favors fish, vegetables and lighter fare. Often, in a mountain town, I struggle with menus filled with wild game, red meat and lots of starch. This menu, however, delighted me. At first glance (with the help of a candle – the hostess did say they plan to print the menus in a darker ink that is easier to read) I saw numerous items I wanted to try, not just one or two appealing choices. For starters, I had a hard time deciding among the Forest Mushroom Tart, the Idaho Potato Pillows, the Diver Scallops and the Tomato and Sunchoke Bisque. My inner picky eater rejoiced! Each of the four salads also looked tantalizing and entrée choices included everything from Ricotta and Butternut Agnalotti to Classic Osso Bucco, Braised Rabbit and Butter Poached King Crab. The menu offers something for everyone.
The Black Cod was full of flavor and beautifully presented on Sun Valley signature china
After much consideration, I opted for the Idaho Potato Pillows with caviar, crème fraiche and chives and a Black Cod with artichoke barigoule, smoked tomato, red wine reduction and petite herbs. My friend decided on the Seared Foie Gras with toasted brioche, Idaho huckleberries and bittersweet chocolate and the Lobster Thermidor. From these selections, you can probably tell that the menu emphasizes many local, seasonal and very fresh ingredients. The choices we made were flavorful, inventive, beautifully plated and well portioned. Evidently, Chef Murcko’s reputation is well deserved and kudos to LDR Chef Adam Findlay for preparing our memorable meal.
And the truth is, everything tastes even just a little better in the beautiful LDR. The elegant two-tiered space, twinkling with crystal chandeliers, polished brass, rich fabrics, crisp white linens and sparkling silver features a repeating pattern of circles. Half moon banquettes line the back walls, scalloped railings delineate the boundary of the upper “tier” and marble steps lead into the lower portion of the room, marked by the curving exterior walls. All this rounding draws your attention and eye inward, making the room very intimate. For the holidays, the Sun Valley elves have outdone themselves, turning the LDR into an elaborately wrapped present. Oversized ornaments provide a sparkling overhead canopy; trees and holiday lights twinkle with thousands of tiny white lights; a stunning tree wrapped in what looks like crystal casts soft light onto surrounding tables.
The halls are decked for the holidays
From the smiles, laughs and exclamations of pleasure emanating from around us in the full dining room last night, it seems that everyone is excited that the LDR is once again open for dinner — just in time for the holidays. Don’t miss this memorable culinary opportunity. For reservations, call 208.622.2019 or book on online by clicking here.
Renown ski patrolman Whiz McNeal and his lovely wife, Beverly, enjoy opening night
Let’s face it, if you are a Mountain Diva, you are a busy girl! It’s a festive time of year and the Holidays only raise the bar, thus lowering the amount of R&R for yourself.
And it doesn’t matter what keeps you busy: whether it’s the constant social circuit (a glass of champagne here…a bikini martini or a hot toddy there) or the steady schedule of family fun and kids activities that you are working to coordinate during this busy time (ice skating, ski lessons, tubing at Dollar). But if you feel like an air traffic controller that has just landed 18 jumbo jets on conflicting flight patterns (at night and in a snow storm), it’s time for a course in pampering yourself 101.
Read on, darling diva, as the following 10 quick fixes are geared towards helping you find your inner goddess once again.
1. Pamper Your Body
Every diva knows that the quickest way to complete bliss is through a relaxing and rejuvenating body treatment. Lucky for us, the Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa offers a wide array of options: everything from acupuncture and herbal body wraps to "hot stone therapy" and traditional massage. Just remember that there are hundreds of different techniques, so be sure to be specific on your needs (and aches or injuries) so that your treatment can be tailored to your specific needs–whether it’s a more relaxing in-room massage treatment (you don’t even have to get up and look presentable) or an invigorating sports massage or shiatsu treatment to help those quads recover from multiple days on Baldy. Can’t decide, call 208.622.2160 to get a recommendation on the perfect spa package (they can build in facials or salon services as well) or view the full brochure of spa services here.
2. Drench Your Skin
No time for a full massage or spa package, book a Petite Facial and enjoy 30 minutes of quiet time that includes a thorough cleanse and exfoliation, along with a moisturizing mask to rehydrate and refresh the complexion. You’ll look as good as new in no time! Of course, feel free to splurge with the Spa Prestige Ogenage Facial (for 80 minutes of heaven and a totally renewed, revitalized, and dare we say reconstructed complexion that works days after the facial). You can also enhance any of the standard facials–like the Aqualift Anti-Wrinkle Facial or Ultra Moisturizing Facial or the Classic–with a marine eye-lift or specialty concentrate treatment. Call 208.622.2160 to book your facial.
Poolside cocktail service at the Lodge pool
3. A Soak in the Lodge Pool
What could possibly be better than a following up your massage or facial (or full spa package) with a relaxing soak in the Sun Valley Lodge pool …? We can answer with complete confidence: Nothing can compete. There is simply no better way to finish off your massage than with a glass of champagne or a bartender’s margarita delivered poolside while you lounge in an outdoor pool that is heated to a soothing 100-102° (make sure you drink your water first so that all that pampering from your massage doesn’t go to waste). Come to think of it, this is the perfect way to end any aprs ski day, no matter where you have been (on the slopes of Baldy, exploring the backcountry with Sun Valley Heli Ski or wandering the Nordic trail system).
The bench seat extends around the entire perimeter and watching your drinks arrive via poolside cocktail service through the steam is a rare luxury. And don’t forget the Inn Pool, which offers breathtaking views of Baldy.
4. Pamper Your Toes
Short on time, book a manicure / pedicure and treat your hands and feet. The Sun Valley Salon and Day Spa even offers a reflexology add-on (30 minutes) to help add to the experience. Looking for a little extra sparkle, zip down to Chic Nail Boutique in Hailey for the Glitter Toes, a treatment that melds real glitter to any color for that added holiday glam.
5. Indulge in Sunday Brunch
Plan a decadent Sunday brunch at the elegant Lodge Dining Room on the second floor of the Sun Valley Lodge and indulge in what many consider to be the Northwest’s finest Sunday Brunch. A lavish display of breakfast specialties including omelet and crepe stations, seafood, an array of gourmet salads and a symphony of desserts await, along with the accompaniment of pianist Leana Leach. Open every Sunday for Brunch from 10 am to 2 pm. Sorry, no reservations for the Sunday Brunch.
6. Lunchat Your Leisure
Lunch at the Roundhouse
Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Sun Valley Club, surrounded by huge glass walls overlooking the Nordic trails meandering along Trail Creek Golf Course. The sliders are to-die for and the lunch menu has something for everybody. Looking for something a little more quaint, then don’t miss a European breakfast or indulgent lunch at Cristina’s Restaurant (of Cristina’s Cookbook series fame). This quaint little cottage in Ketchum beckons with old-world charm and offers a menu of delicious treats that changes daily.
And for that WOW factor, a gondola ride up the mountain for a full table lunch service at the Roundhouse can not be beat–just don’t miss drinks or fondue at Averell’s before you sit down (and enjoy the incredible views of town and the surrounding Pioneer Mountains)! Plan ahead (and get there early) as parties are seated on a first-come, first served basis; although large parties of 8 or more may make reservations by calling 208.622.2800.
More than 15 shops beckon in the Sun Valley Village
Over 15 unique shops offer everything from technical sportswear and footwear to the latest in designer styles, fine gifts, jewelry and home dcor. Designer lines include the latest from TSE, Juicy, Diane von Furstenberge, Velvet, Juicy, Kjus, Bogner, Toni Sailer, Ralph Lauren, Moncler, Arc’teryx, Lole, Nils, Patagonia, Burton and more. There is even a toy store for unique toys and gifts and Silver Creek Outfitters….so you can get something for everybody on your list.
For a more cultural experience, visit one of the amazing art galleries in town (the Sun Valley Gallery Association sponsors monthly gallery walk nights), featuring nationally and internationally recognized artists showing as part of a sophisticated and thriving arts scene–there is even the U.S. premiere of the Papunya Tula aboriginal artists from Australia this February at Harvey Art Projects in Ketchum.
8. Escape into the Solitude of Nature
Nordic and snowshoe trails offer beauty and solitude
Want to just get away from it all and enjoy the peace and quiet of a high alpine landscape beneath a blanket of freshly fallen snow? Head north out Trail Creek to the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center, which is located in the glass-walled and river rock Sun Valley Club, nestled along the sprawling Trail Creek Golf Course. With over 40 km of trails groomed daily for skate and classic skiing, the trail system offers gently sloping terrain with challenging hills that offer incredible vistas without leaving you gasping for air. For a round up of other local snowshoe trails, from easy to insane, check out Sun Valley Magazine’s "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Cap your afternoon adventure off with a hot toddy in the Sun Valley Club.
9. Dinner and a Movie
Treat yourself to a movie at the historic Opera House. Built in 1937 and located in the heart of Sun Valley Village, the Opera House is a charming 340-seat theatre that features the newest releases, along with regular showings of the classic "Sun Valley Serenade" (every afternoon at 4:30 and admittance is always free).Sun Valley restaurant guests can also enjoy a FREE movie after dining at the following Sun Valley restaurants: Bald Mountain Pizza, Trail Creek Cabin, The Ram and Gretchen’s. Movie passes will be available to each diner for a movie on the same evening. Please ask your server for more information. Ketchum’s Magic Lantern Cinema also offers current films nightly and matinees most days.
Comedy and live music are all part of the winter calendar
10. Ladies Night Out
Looking for a little more excitement. Start with some aprs ski fun by checking out Sun Valley’s Calendar of Events to see who is playing at the base lodges–both River Run and Warm Springs. There is often entertainment in the Sun Valley Village as well, with details on times and performers online–the Duchin Lounge has the best live jazz in town and the Boiler Room offers a comedy series and special appearances, along with the farewell season of Forever Plaid this year! There is also live music most nights somewhere in town and Whiskey Jacques has a full calendar with a great lineup and most shows with only a $5 to $12 cover.
Just remember that if you stay out too late…you may have to begin at the top of the list with #1 and start all over again.