The history of ski racing in Sun Valley is as rich and as impressive as anyplace in the country. And the future is looking pretty bright, too. It is as if the slopes of Baldy and Dollar were blessed by the ski gods, Ullr and Skadi, to groom the fastest and strongest skiers and snowboarders to ever ride on snow. Sun Valley has been home to the best in the alpine sports scene since shortly after inventing the world’s first chairlift back in the 1930s. It’s a tradition that’s staying strong and is proudly on display as Sun Valley hosts events like last weekend...
When work began on the White Clouds Residences, just as the bottom was falling out in the “Great Recession,” many folks thought the project would fail.
“It started during the depths of the recession and people definitely had their doubts,” Mark Thoreson said.
Mark has been part of the team overseeing the project since its infancy. He was happy to report that it turned out all the naysayers were wrong. The first 12 units, or Phase 1 of the project, sold out, and more than a half-dozen years later, not a single home has gone back on the market.
“It was hugely successful,” said Mark, who’s been with Sun Valley Resort since 1978. “We got lucky and we built something that struck a chord with people.”
As humble as Mark may be, luck didn’t have much to do with the project’s success. Tapping into Sun Valley’s long and storied history of following a philosophy best summed up by the words of late owner, Earl Holding: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing.”
Wally Huffman has been with Sun Valley Resort since 1967, a decade before the Holding family bought the resort. Wally credits the Holdings with not only building upon the resort’s storied success, but raising the work to a new level. The success of the White Clouds, despite its inauspicious start, is just further proof.“It’s a testament to how much faith people have in the Holdings,” Wally said about how well the project has been received. “Earl Holding set a high standard. We just try to maintain it.”
After the success of Phase 1 of the White Clouds, it should come as no surprise that Phase 2, also known as the Diamond Back Townhomes, are selling swiftly. Only five of the sixteen recently completed units are left and the owners are pretty thrilled with the results.
Michael and Lindsay Church are two such owners. Residing primarily in Philadelphia, they bought a unit last summer and began enjoying their new vacation home during the Christmas holidays.
“This is a special place,” Michael said. The Churches are high school sweethearts, which is when Michael first began visiting Sun Valley. Lindsay’s family has been coming to Sun Valley since the dawn of the resort as her grandmother skied Sun Valley when it first opened.
With a toddler named Henry and another child on the way, they felt that having a second home at Diamond Backs was ideal.
“We wanted to be close to the Village, especially with the little one. It’s so kid friendly here, “Michael said.
“The bike path is right here. You can walk over to the Golf Club for lunch. Everything is within walking distance,” Lindsay said.
The young family said they also like the friendliness and sense of community they feel locally, which extends to the team that built their home. The couple is also in the midst of finishing building a house in Philadelphia, but they enjoyed the process here in Sun Valley much better.
“Everybody’s been great. Wally, Mark, all the contractors and Sun Valley Company have been really easy to work with,” Michael said. “The contractors even take their shoes off when they come in the house and then they give you their cellphone numbers. That would never happen in Philly.”
Besides the great location along Sun Valley Road, Mark said there were a few other reasons why the Diamond Backs are finding success.
The first is the size of the units. “They’re not monster, 7,000-square-foot homes. A lot of folks have decided to downsize a bit and these units add another nice option for Sun Valley,” Mark said.
The units also offer a choice between upstairs or downstairs living areas with very open floor plans. Mark said that families like to have kitchens and living rooms downstairs so it’s easier for the kids to come in and out.
Of course, Sun Valley never skimps on the details, so the units are full of all kinds of great amenities. Every bedroom has it’s own bathroom. The kitchen counters are topped with Pental quartz and stocked with Wolf Appliances. There are gas fireplaces on the patios and each indoor stone fireplace has a secret stone to hide wiring for electronics. There are wet or wine bars in each unit and the pavers outside are all heated with systems designed to run only when needed.
The other appealing aspect of the Diamond Backs is that some of them are available for short-term rentals. “We could use some new rental inventory and these places provide a great option,” Mark said.
Despite starting up when most other construction projects in the country were shutting down, the White Clouds and now the Diamond Backs are once again proving that when you do things the right way, when you work hard and take pride in what you do, when you listen to your clientele and treat them with respect, you can’t help but succeed. Sun Valley does have a long track record of doing things the right way, after all, it’s part of the place’s DNA.
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