Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lodge closes for 9-month renovation

Inn, village, condos and cottages to remain open

Express Staff Writer

Lodge guests Kayden Snell, 4, Logan Snell, 18 months, and their babysitter Rocio Gonzalez relax in the main lobby of the Sun Valley Lodge last week. As part of a project to remodel and update the Lodge, the lobby will be completely renovated. Photo by Roland Lane

    Guests weren’t making the only exit from the Sun Valley Lodge on Monday, Sept. 1. Moving companies and resort staff were also hauling furniture out of the iconic hotel on Labor Day, the first day of a nine-month closure to complete a 31,000-square-foot addition and entire renovation of the interior by Sun Valley Co.
    The Lodge will be closed until early June 2015. Everything else within the resort will remain open, and guests can choose between the Sun Valley Inn or the village’s condominium and cottage options.
    The three-floor addition being constructed on the northern wing of the lodge will include a two-floor spa, third-floor suites and a rebuilt outdoor swimming pool featuring a café and expanded deck. The Lodge Dining Room will be removed in the process, though the Sun Room lounge will remain. All rooms within the lodge will be renovated and some of the smaller rooms will be expanded to feature fireplaces and larger bathroom areas—about one-third of the hotel’s current 150 rooms will be eliminated in the process.

We couldn’t really figure out a way to do [the remodel] without disrupting our guests.”
Stephen Holding
Ownership group

    The Sun Valley Lodge dates back to 1936, the same year the first chairlifts were installed on Proctor and Dollar mountains and three years before author Ernest Hemingway wrote parts of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” while staying in a Lodge suite. Owner Carol Holding said in March that the lodge would be remodeled in accordance with her late husband and co-owner Earl Holding’s wishes. The Holding family has owned the resort since 1977.
    “We love Sun Valley,” Holding said. “It was very choice to Earl.”
    The main aspects of the Lodge remodel are:
l    All guest rooms will be upgraded and refurbished, and many combined to create larger rooms (king and double-queen suites).
l    All bathrooms will be enlarged and modernized, with plumbing upgraded throughout.
l    The public areas, including the main lobby, Gretchen’s restaurant and the Duchin Room lounge, will be refurbished to make them brighter and more welcoming.
    Carol and Earl Holding’s son Stephen said room rates will likely increase with the more luxurious accommodations available as of June 2015. The full-scale renovation couldn’t be completed without fully closing the lodge, he said when the plans were announced in March.
    “We couldn’t really figure out a way to do it without disrupting our guests,” he said.
    Labor Day sales and bright sunshine drew a host of visitors to the resort during the afternoon Monday, even with the Lodge transitioning into a full-scale worksite.
    To make up for the loss of services at the Lodge, other spots within the resort are increasing their offerings. The resort salon has been moved to an alternate location in Sun Valley Village. The Ram Restaurant will begin offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, according to Jack Sibbach, director of public relations and marketing, and the Boiler Room might be reimagined as a nightlife destination for music and cocktails.
    “We’re looking at all options,” Sibbach said.
    Winter sports at the resort—including alpine and cross-country skiing—will not be affected. In addition, the resort plans to host the same wide array of Christmas festivities that it has in past years, resort officials said.
    Regarding the resort’s seasonal employees, Sibbach said the company won’t be hiring as many people this coming winter. Fortunately, he said, most workers are preparing to leave regardless, since it’s the end of summer and the busiest tourist season at the resort.
    Though the Lodge closed for the remodel this week, construction on the spa addition began several months ago, in April. This summer, workers installed footings and stem walls for the project. Mock-ups for the new Lodge suites were reviewed by the Sun Valley Co. throughout the summer as well, according to Sibbach.
    Stephen Holding said in March that the spa addition will make the Lodge a much more valuable asset. The spa facilities will include 15 private treatment rooms, locker rooms with steam and sauna facilities, a yoga studio and a fitness center, according to resort representatives. The third floor will feature four guest suites, and the entire facility will be integrated with the rest of the lodge.
    The nearby family bowling alley will also be remodeled in the process.
    Sun Valley Co. hasn’t released a cost estimate for the addition and renovation.

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