The Sun Valley Resort is billed as America’s first ski resort. After opening in 1936, it brought a dash of St. Moritz to the mountains of the Wood River Valley.
The original lodge building went up in a single year, behind the hard-charging effort of resort founder and Union Pacific president Averell Harriman. The next year, the Challenger Inn opened – now known as the Sun Valley Inn, setting the footprint for the Sun Valley Village that is largely intact today. But in the last 80-plus years, the resort has expanded in ways big and small. If a visitor in 1936 were to magically teleport to 2022, they would recognize the glass-walled pools and simulated wood concrete walls of the resort, but nearly everything else has changed and developed.
In 2008, the Sun Valley Company and the Sun Valley Symphony opened the Sun Valley Pavilion, a soaring outdoor performance venue backed by an expansive lawn for world-class summer performances. It was a keystone of a 20-year period of major investments in upgrades and improvements:
- 2003: Sun Valley Inn ballroom and convention expansion.
- 2004: Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge.
- 2008 Sun Valley Pavilion.
- 2015: Interior of Sun Valley Lodge rebuilt. Sun Valley Spa opens.
- 2017: New Village Station replaces former Bald Mountain Pizza in Sun Valley Village.
- 2017: Konditerei opens with new concept, expansion in Sun Valley Village.
- 2018-19: Sun Valley Inn remodel opens in phases.
- 2019: New Sun Valley employee housing facility opens.
- 2019: New Warm Springs Lodge opens after fire.
- 2020: Sunrise expansion on Bald Mountain opens with new high-speed lift, additional terrain.
But today, the “Future Plans” section of the Sun Valley website is a list of plans realized.
More to come
Sun Valley Company Vice President and General Manager Pete Sonntag says there’s more to come.
“Two years ago the world changed and no one was thinking about spending money on capital expenditures,” he said. “We were thinking maybe they wouldn’t for a long time. And here we are a couple years later and that thinking has shifted completely.”
Right now, leadership is looking at old plans, thinking of current needs, and assessing where to go.
“We are definitely of a mindset that we always want to push, we always want to get better,” Sonntag said. “There will be things we’ll be able to share soon, and it’s really us organizing our thinking and making sure we’ve got the multi-year message to put into place. But I’m very optimistic we’ll have some good news to share there.”
While Sonntag wasn’t ready to reveal what might be coming, he did say they are looking at the resort’s two key areas and finding the right balance.
“If you’re familiar with the layout here, it’s pretty unique. You’ve got Bald Mountain off on its own – this beautiful big ski resort. Then you have the Village of Sun Valley which is a mile away, and you’ve got Dollar Mountain adjacent to that. We look at mountain improvements and village improvements. And there’s a little bit of a ‘where’s the priority’ with that discussion we need to have. We’re working on both of those things. I do think there is an opportunity for us to make improvements on the mountain.”