Sun Valley Lodge – A Timeless Destination

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Sun Valley Lodge, located in the stunning mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho, has a long-standing history as a top luxury vacation destination. In 1936, Averell Harriman purchased the Brass Ranch. He spent the next several years developing the first destination ski resort in the United States. The five-star property grew and changed hands over the years, becoming more luxurious and exciting over time. The resort boasts a high-end shopping village, an eclectic array of restaurants, well-appointed accommodations, an ice-skating rink, bike paths, and more. 

Sun Valley Lodge

The Evolution

Averell Harriman went searching for the perfect destination resort in the United States back in 1935. He was Chairman of the Board of Union Pacific Railroad and wanted to encourage passengers to travel West. Harriman loved to ski. He commissioned Count Felix Schaffgotsch to locate the ideal spot for the resort. Schaffgotsch’s journey, predominantly via sleigh, seemed destined for failure until a local boy led him to the Idaho Rockies. He immediately fell in love with the dry powdery snow and the constant sunshine. Schaffgotsch notified Harriman about the property, who hastily purchased the 4300-acre Brass Ranch within days.

Harriman hired Steve Hannagan, a successful public relations pioneer, to promote the upscale resort he planned to build. The concept included glass-enclosed swimming pools, gourmet food, flawless service, and nightly orchestra performances. The two men agreed that their target clientele should consist of Hollywood stars, dignitaries, and other influential personalities from the East Coast. Harriman hired talented architects to design the opulent resort. 

Sun Valley Lodge
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort | Photographer: Steve Dondero

Sun Valley got its first PR boost with the filming of “I Met Him in Paris” in 1937. Other productions followed: Sun Valley Serenade, Bus Stop, Breakheart Pass, and more. Sun Valley blossomed during its first summer season in 1937. Today, summer is still a marvelous time to visit. Guests can participate in tennis, skeet shooting, hiking, golf, bicycling, hunting, and fishing. In 1964 the governing Union Pacific Board of Directors decided to sell Sun Valley to the Janss Corporation. 

The Janss Corporation was instrumental in expanding the village and targeting young families. The property has changed hands a few times over the years, yet it is still one of the United States’ premier summer and winter vacation destinations.

Sun Valley Lodge accommodations

The Lodge

Visitors can look back on over 80 years of history by wandering the hallways perusing photos of celebrities and people of interest that have vacationed at the property. Guests can follow in their footsteps and sleep in luxurious suites with oversized soaking tubs, enormous bathrooms, beautiful burl-wood desks, and comfortable furnishings. The resort dining options are diverse and offer something for everyone’s tastebuds. 

The historic Ram restaurant prior to the 2017 remodel.
The historic Ram restaurant prior to 2017 remodel. Photo Credit: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort
Photographer: © Kevin Syms

The Restaurants

The Ram, Sun Valley’s original restaurant, offers historic rustic charm with a modern touch of style and time-honored dishes. Larry Harshbarger plays classical music on the baby grand piano Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 p.m. –  8:30 p.m. I highly recommend the tender lamb shank as an entrée when dining at The Ram.

Linguini at Gretchen lounge
Linguini at Gretchen lounge

Gretchen’s restaurant sits adjacent to the lobby. Guests can opt to dine indoors or out on the terrace overlooking the ice skating rink. The drinks are tasty, and I suggest ordering the shitake mushroom appetizer; it is scrumptious. The linguini with butter-lemon sauce, langoustine, and fried onions is another winner in my book. 

Konditorea baked goods
Konditorei baked goods

Begin your day at Konditorei with a flaky pastry or breakfast sandwich. These are just a sampling of the great places to enjoy a meal or a cocktail on the property. Sit outside and savor an Aperol spritz at Village Station or a white chocolate espresso martini at the Lodge Terrace; they are both decadent libations. Other delicious options are available in the nearby town of Ketchum. 

Taste of Thai makes fantastic Tom Kha Gai soup with chicken, coconut milk, and mild curry. The salad rolls are exceptionally tasty, and my friend, Connie, said that the green curry with shrimp was another memorable dish. After enjoying a great meal, why not check out the resort’s spa.

The Spa at Sun Valley Lodge

The Spa

Therapists and spa management make people feel comfortable using the best possible practices in today’s challenging environment. The attention to detail, special touches, and extra measures to ensure proper cleanliness instill a feeling of safety. 

The Spa at Sun Valley Lodge offers 20,000 square feet of rest and relaxation
The Spa at Sun Valley Lodge offers 20,000 square feet of rest and relaxation. Photo Credit: Courtesy Sun Valley Resort
Photographer: © Kevin Syms

The Sun Valley spa menu includes various massages, body rituals, and wraps that detoxify and exfoliate the skin and wellness and healing packages that utilize acupuncture, reflexology and other assorted practices. 

Sun Valley Lodge Spa fireplace

During my visit, I indulged in the Signature Massage. Heather, my masseuse, did an incredible job releasing my tension with deep flowing strokes. Within an hour, Heather had removed all of my knots created from travel and the stress of everyday life. The spa menu is comprehensive, the outdoor pool is inviting, and the lobby and waiting rooms are comfortable and serene. After a few hours of being pampered, why not do a little shopping.

Konditorei Village Shopping at Sun Valley Lodge
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort. Photographer: Steve Dondero

The Village Shops

Shops in the village sell high-end designer clothes, outdoor wear and gear, golf supplies, jewelry, toys, boots, and gifts. If you want to rent a bike or ski gear, visit the appropriate village shop for assistance.

ice skating rink at Sun Valley Lodge
Ice skating rink at Sun Valley Lodge

The Action

Sun Valley Resort began as a winter ski destination. Today it is that and more. Winter still brings in the skiers, snowshoers, and cross-country ski lovers to nearby Bald and Dollar Mountains, but spring, summer, and fall offer plenty of outdoor fun. 

Golf enthusiasts can spend hours on the 18-hole Trail Creek championship or enjoy a quick round on the alpine links-style nine-hole White Clouds course. The ice-skating rink is open all year, and the resort offers yoga classes and a top-notch fitness center. Walkers, runners, and cyclists take pleasure in the numerous paved pathways that weave throughout the resort, expand up into the hills and lead down into the towns. 

Sun Valley Lodge Winter

The resort offers something exciting for everyone in every season. Sun Valley Resort is a year-round destination for romantics, outdoor adventurers, and families. Book your next vacation in this outstanding destination in sunny Idaho.

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