I live, year-round, approximately five miles from the Sun Valley Lodge. While I am at the Resort almost every day, dropping my kids off at skating lessons or hockey; enjoying a meal; shopping or picking up my mail, this weekend I decided to treat myself to a night at the Lodge — the full guest experience — because, well, it is a terrible waste to live next door to a world-class resort and not check in once in a while. Enjoying turn down service is good for the soul.
It is amazing how, in those five short miles, my mind quickly turned from the never-ending “to do” list to a manicure, a glass of wine and a seat by the fire. By the time I parked and walked to the Lodge’s front door, overnight bag in hand, I already felt like a guest. The always handsome and polite doormen swung open the doors in tandem, welcoming me to Sun Valley. I made my grand entrance into the warm lobby that twinkled with lights and home felt like a continent away.
The pleasant women at the reception desk also welcomed me with open arms (though they probably wondered why I was so giddy at 3 p.m.) and gave me the keys to the kingdom – room 165. I have stayed at the Lodge a few times, but so far, room 165 is my very favorite. A corner King room, three large windows flood the space with light and look out over the Sun Valley Ice Rink, Bald Mountain and the Pavilion. A room with a view, indeed! But luxuriating in 165 would have to wait until later. My poor neglected fingers and toes demanded immediate attention.
I scooted down the hallway, surrounded on all sides by fabulous black and white photos chronicling the Resort’s storied story, and turned into the newly redesigned Salon and Spa. Soft lights, a spice colored carpet and gleaming surfaces greeted me, as did my nail technician, Christie. Christie is newly arrived in Sun Valley and her broad smile and sweet laugh made me forget to be embarrassed by my “mountain feet.” As I soaked in the hot rose-colored water and chatted with Christie, vacation-mode took over. An hour later, my feet were reborn. Christie provided the best pedicure I have had since I moved from New York City a dozen years ago. And that is no exaggeration and no small, um, feat. An equally transformative manicure followed. No question, I will be back for some pre-holiday pampering in a few weeks’ time.
Next stop? The famous outdoor Sun Valley pool. This mammoth, steaming circle of water is really a soaking tub of epic proportions. It was raining steadily that evening, the cold mountain drops mingling with the very hot water. A group of locals, all staying at the Resort for the Firefighters’ Ball, chatted with hockey players in town for a tournament, everyone submerged and sipping drinks, seated on the bench that rims the entire inside wall of the pool.
Later, the group reconvened at the Lodge’s Duchin Room, securing a cluster of high tables in the back and enjoying a light dinner. Then, onto the Ball at the Limelight Room for a great night of dancing and back to my very cozy room by the stroke of midnight. Eggs Benedict at Gretchen’s the next morning was the perfect ending to the stay.
Part of the joy, part of the fun, of living in a resort town, is the resort itself. Many locals enjoy a “staycation” in Sun Valley. One friend and his wife recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary with a night at the Lodge. Another gathers a group of friends for her birthday each year and checks into one of the spacious cottages for a getaway without the getaway.
Life in a small town like Sun Valley can get surprisingly busy and stressful, just like anywhere else. But with one of the most beautiful resorts in the world in our backyard, why not play “guest” once a in a while? When I awoke to a spectacular view of Baldy, covered in snow and gleaming in the sun, I appreciated Sun Valley anew and returned home truly grateful for where I live.