Ernest Hemingway returned to Ketchum to live among the mountains, have a river run past his house, and find refuge in a congenial atmosphere. Sun Valley, Idaho hasn’t changed its style since Hemingway said his final goodbye nearly six decades ago. It retains a small-town charm, with just over 1,400 residents at the last US census. And though upscale, it still feels like an outpost on the frontier it has traditionally reigned over.
When you come to ski or snowboard on mountains still considered among the world’s best for downhill, you come to experience not only abundant constant-pitch terrain, a 3,400 foot vertical drop, and notable absence of wind on Bald Mountain, but a true sense of history in a town which never loses its spirit.
Legendary Sun Valley Lodge anchors the area as the spot, Suite 206, to be exact, where Hemingway penned his Pulitzer Prize nominated For Whom the Bell Tollsin 1939. But there is much richness to its history that precedes Hemingway’s initial residency. When the lodge made its debut in December of 1936, it was the centerpiece of the new ski resort. Born from a dream and the deep pockets of lifetime skier and the chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad, W. Averell Harriman, the ski resort was built in seven months for $1.5 million. With its swimming pools and Swiss-style village, the concept was rustic chic. That 1936 fall, before the grand opening, the world’s first chairlifts were installed on Dollar and Proctor Mountains, placing the resort steps ahead of the customary mechanism for transporting skiers uphill, the rope tow.
Over three quarters of a century have passed, and this Idaho ski and snowboard destination continues to innovate ahead of its North American competitors. A year ago fieldwork began for the new Cold Springs Canyon region. A year from now a new high-speed quad chairlift will be unveiled, more snowmaking equipment will be ready, the Bald Mountain ski acreage will be expanded by nearly twenty percent, including newly gladed tree areas – all in preparation for the 2019 ski season grand opening. An additional 380 acres of new, skiable terrain is coming, and Sun Valley is buzzing about the growth. Though the improvements will ultimately offer runs for all ski levels, advanced skiers may tour the new expanse this winter with Sun Valley’s professional mountain guides. Off the slopes, many capital improvements are completely functional and already being enjoyed by visitors.
At the start of 2018, Sun Valley Resort had completed a major phase in the renovation. Modern enhancements to the guest experience accompany the attention to detail that complements an unforgettable stay. New carpeting, linens, mattresses, bathrooms, windows, and appurtenances such as 55-inch screen televisions and enhanced wireless internet are available as the revamp rolls out. Ninety-eight guestrooms will have been remodeled when the project wraps. But the resort’s luxuries do not live only behind locked doors.
New culinary concepts grace all spots for dining, drinking and lighter fare. While cozying up in front of a fireplace at The Ram Bar, the resort’s woody lounge, visitors can nibble simple yet sophisticated small bites accompanied by craft cocktails, batch cocktails spooned out of punch ladles, beers of the region and wines from the Sun Valley cellar. The Ram is the property’s modern steakhouse, offering an upscale menu incorporating locally sourced ingredients served from a completely remodeled kitchen. While the Village Station serves as a shining example of a family-friendly restaurant, with a broad selection designed to please all ages and palates.
Rediscover yourself as you stop to gaze from 9,150 feet, the top of Bald Mountain, just as countless celebrities have done across the decades. America’s first destination ski resort has captured the hearts of many famous names by offering a grand ski experience coupled with an authentic mountain town. Year after year, decade after decade, Sun Valley continues to add to its story and improve upon itself, while its small-town sincerity and outstanding skiing conditions remain constant. To quote Papa’s apt and treasured words: “One generation passes away, and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to its place where it arose.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises