Every summer has a soundtrack -- the music that best accompanies long days spent in the sunshine and warm nights spent under the stars. It is the music that when you hear it weeks or even years later, brings you right back to the moment. For the summer of 2018, these memories will be made at the Sun Valley Pavilion and at River Run with more than 25 live concerts planned between June and September. No matter if your tastes run to classical, retro, or up-and-coming, Sun Valley is the place to be all summer long.
Citizen Cope & G....
Greetings from room 326 at the newly renovated Sun Valley Lodge. I had the privilege of spending "opening night" here with two of my children and this mini-vacation has been one to remember. My laptop is perched on a desk that looks like a plank of wood recently hewn from a grand tree. My view is of the green hills of Dollar Mountain and the peaks beyond. Below, on the iconic outdoor ice rink, the first skaters of the day practice their edges during a class. The doors between the bedroom and the sitting room are closed, allowing my ten-year-old son to sleep in undisturbed. Breakfast awaits downstairs. I don't think I ever want to go home, even though home is only about five minutes away!
Like me, many people did not want to miss the chance to spend the first historic night at the Lodge on June 15: to be the first to sleep in one of the gorgeous, spacious new rooms, to be a part of Sun Valley's long and storied history. Yesterday afternoon we packed our bags, drove over and went on vacation – determined to take advantage of everything the renovated Lodge offers in the short time we had.
On June 15, the excitement was palpable walking up to the newly re-imagined Sun Valley Lodge. High expectations were exceeded by the incredible new era for an American original.
Renovation really doesn't do what has happened at the Sun Valley Lodge justice, though. The building has been transformed. The light and views have been brought in, every modern amenity has been considered, yet the charm and history remain intact. From the moment you walk through the new sweeping entrance and into the Lobby's two main doors, it feels very familiar and comfortable but completely new, modern, elegant and charming. In fact, I heard those very words spoken over and over again by overnight guests, those popping in for a celebratory drink at the Duchin Lounge and the many people enjoying tours of the building. Elegant, sophisticated, charming, inviting. Every detail is well conceived and luxurious: from the wall coverings, to the marble floors and fireplaces, to the upholstery.
When we arrived for our 4 p.m. check in, the first thing we did was take our own tour. Even though I had been in the building just a few weeks ago while it was in its final phase of construction, it took a little trial and error to find our room (though the bellman, of course, graciously offered to deliver us, we declined), to walk to the spa lobby (jaw dropping) and to find our way to the new pool and poolside café. My children, who have spent countless hours at the Lodge were amazed at the transformation and couldn't wait to see everything.
This is one portion of Room 326, our home away from home. Spacious and incredibly family-friendly, we could have stayed for weeks.
First stop was a lovely early dinner at Gretchen's Restaurant joined by my parents. Light, airy, and welcoming the restaurant retains much of its original character but offers gorgeous new tabletoppers (I hope they sell the placemats in the gift store) and a healthy, locally-sourced and creative new menu from Chef Derek Gallegos. We settled in with cocktails for the adults and lemonade for the children as we made our choices. An eclectic group, appetizer choices ranged from gazpacho soup to pork belly and entrees included filet mignon, leg of lamb, seared sea scallops and a lobster Caesar salad. Our server, Nathan, was professional and attentive and the food was fantastic. I have probably eaten 100 meals at Gretchen's over the years, and this was far and away the finest.
We enjoyed both dinner and breakfast at the airy, welcoming Gretchen's Restaurant. With Chef Derek Gallegos in the kitchen, the food was fresh, locally-sourced and memorable.
Next stop was the Spa at Sun Valley where we shopped in the lobby boutique before going upstairs to check out the 16 couples and traditional treatment rooms and lounges. Gorgeous! The treatment rooms are large, inviting and peaceful and the spa menu is robust to say the least. I cannot wait to make a few appointments to luxuriate and get ready for summer in earnest.
We then made our way to the wholly re-imagined Bowling and Game Room on the lower level. Wow. With a decidedly retro feel, six lanes of bowling with automatic scoring, lots of arcade games and a great menu and bar, this is somewhere we're going to spend a lot of time. In fact, it's where we ended our night, bowling a game (I won), sipping drinks and enjoying the vibe.
Caption: The Sun Valley Bowling and Game Center is mod, retro and all about fun. Bowl on one of six state-of-the-art lanes, nosh on delicious snacks, enjoy a drink and play all the arcade games. It's a great time even if you bowl as badly as I do.
We also poked our heads into the very busy Duchin Lounge and terrace where a veritable who's who of the Sun Valley area congregated, noshed and toasted. The spacious room offers many seating arrangements and is inviting to say the least. There, I ran into many of my neighbors, the fabulous cast of Sun Valley on Ice who had just finished their first rehearsals and lots of other familiar faces. Everyone could not say enough about how spectacular the new Lodge is.
From there, it was on to the new Poolside Café and pool (we squeezed a lot into six hours, I know). Replete with comfortable chaises, cabanas and a gorgeous new warm pool, it was the perfect place to watch day turn into evening. My friend and I found seats around the fire pit and chatted with two couples from Boise who said they wouldn't have missed opening night for anything. They have been visiting the Sun Valley Resort for 40 years and said the changes “made [them] proud to be Idahoans.” In the meanwhile, my son splashed and swam in the pool and my daughter dangled her feet in the water having forgotten her swimsuit. Did I mention before hitting the pool the two children also made their way to the new state-of-the-art gym for a little treadmill time? So much to do, so few hours in the day!
The pool, pool deck and Poolside Café are beautiful and welcoming. Enjoy a swim, a soak in the hot tub, a cocktail by the fire pit or a full meal or healthy snack. The setting is amazing.
Finally, it was time to retire upstairs to "our" room (we will always think of it that way). In short order, we tucked into the two wonderful queen beds and very comfortable pull out bed. The new set up is absolutely perfect for families. Other room highlights include the spacious new marble bathrooms with soaking tubs, separate walk-in showers and two sinks. The rooms are decorated in beautiful understated earth tones, offer plenty of closet space no matter how much gear you have and are the perfect place to spread out and unwind after a busy Sun Valley day. If you really want a treat, the named suites are amazing. We poked our heads into the Clint Eastwood suite adjacent to our room and thought we could easily move in – for good.
On opening night, the Duchin Lounge was hopping as locals and guests mingled and celebrated the next chapter in Sun Valley's storied history.
The new Lodge is simply impressive. In ten months, Sun Valley took a gem that many hold very close to their hearts and completely reinvented it for the needs of today's sophisticated travelers without losing any of the charm and authenticity that make Sun Valley Sun Valley. Thank you to Mrs. Holding and the Holding family for creating something we can all be so proud of.
The American original is back … and better than ever. Come see it for yourself.
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