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...
“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth over-doing!”
That was the motto of Sun Valley Resort’s late owner, Earl Holding. Mr. Holding was known for saying it while he oversaw projects like the remodels of the impressive River Run and Carol’s Dollar Mountain lodges, and the stunning Sun Valley Pavilion.
It’s a saying that Jack Sibbach, the resort’s director of marketing and public relations, quoted several times during a recent tour of the remodel of the historic Sun Valley Lodge. Just a couple months shy of completion—and thanks in large part to his wife—the multimillion-dollar remodel and spa edition will undoubtedly live up to Mr. Holding’s motto.
“Mrs. Holding, God bless her, “ Jack said. “She’s doing it right.”
Originally built in 1936, the Sun Valley Lodge really hadn’t changed much since. So it was definitely in need of a facelift. Interestingly, the face of the building is just about the only thing that isn’t changing.
The original concrete exterior walls, mixed to a wooden color, have never been touched and will soon be all that remains from the original lodge. Fortunately, most of the lodge’s famous and long-beloved amenities, like Gretchen’s restaurant, the Duchin Lounge, the Wall of Fame, the Bowling Alley and the circular Lodge Pool will still be there. They’ll just be new and improved, bigger and better.
The lobby will extend 16-feet towards the ice rink, giving it a more spacious and welcoming feel. It will again be flanked by the Duchin Lounge and Gretchen’s, which will both be much more open and modern. The Lodge Pool will be the same size, but the area will now include a Poolside Café, fireplace, and hot tub. “It will be much more social. A great place for families, or events like receptions,” Jack said.
Besides the addition of the two-story, 20,000-square-foot world-class spa, the biggest buzz about the new lodge is how nice the rooms are, especially the spacious bathrooms. The new lodge will hold 54 fewer rooms than the old lodge, leaving more room for things like big bathrooms, big windows and big TVs.
The new lodge will also include large suites, some with terraces over-looking the pool and Baldy (Rumor has it some may even be named after Sun Valley celebrities like Hemingway or Harriman, Henie or Monroe, Cooper or Eastwood. We’ll see.)
“It’s all first class,” Jack explained, as he pointed out details like the granite floor entranceways to each room, and the double-sided fireplaces.
Even the editor of Ski Magazine, Greg Ditrinco, couldn’t help but offer praise as we toured a couple of model rooms, soon-to-be signature suites, the giant spa facilities and other amenities. “Everyone agreed that the iconic lodge was due for a refreshening,” Ditrinco said. “But this appears to be a true reimagining of the lodge, rather than a renovation. It’s an exciting move for Sun Valley.”
“The Lodge and the Inn will be much different now,” Jack said, adding that “people who usually stay at Four Seasons or the Ritz are not going to be disappointed staying at the Lodge.”
With most of the project now in the homestretch and rooms being booked, crews are working on the remodel six days a week. But as long as the last worker can step out the service door just before the first guests arrive on June 15th, the long held Sun Valley tradition of not just doing something well, but over-doing it, will begin its next glorious chapter.
As Jack said of the project, “It’s not a remodel, it’s a rebirth.”
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