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

My 24-hour vacation

You have arrived at the Lodge!

You have arrived!

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.

Checking in at the Lodge

Be our guest

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.

Christie, my great nail technician

Let the pampering begin

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.

Sun Valley's famous year-round outdoor pool

The famous year-round outdoor 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.

–RES

Room with a view

Room with a view

My home away from home

My home away from home, room 165