Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Dollar Lodge could open Friday

Public open house at lavish new facility scheduled Monday

Express Staff Writer

Carol Holding, wife of Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding, was a driving force behind the new lodge on the historic ski hill. The structure is now formally called Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge. Photo by Willy Cook

A new era is set to dawn at Dollar Mountain later this week.

Sun Valley Resort has announced it will open the new 26,000-square-foot Dollar Mountain Lodge on Friday, Dec. 17, the same day it plans to open the Dollar Mountain ski area.

However, with construction crews still putting the finishing touches on the building, the opening of Dollar Mountain might be delayed up to three days, said Jack Sibbach, Sun Valley director of marketing and public relations.

"It's a day-to-day decision, but it will be Monday at the latest," he said.

Whether or not the mountain opens this weekend, the public is invited to attend a gala open-house celebration at the new lodge from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20. Free food, refreshments and champagne will be served.

Designed to resemble Sun Valley's three signature ski lodges on Bald Mountain—at River Run, Seattle Ridge and Warm Springs—the two-level facility is designed to spark a renewal of interest in Dollar Mountain.

Perched at the base of Dollar's northeast flank, where the historic Dollar Cabin once stood, the new lodge includes a dining room with unobstructed mountain views, a day-care center, a ski and snowboarding school, and a full-service ski-rental, repair and retail shop.

Although features such as a gourmet cafeteria, heated-paver patio and large-screen plasma televisions should appeal to most adult skiers, the lodge was primarily designed to be a state-of-the-art sanctuary for children. Much of the building is devoted to the children's ski school, which boasts child-sized restrooms, dryers, a kitchenette, and a television and game area.

Carol Holding, wife of Sun Valley Co. owner Earl Holding, was a driving force behind the new lodge being built, Sibbach said. The structure is now formally called Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge.

Sibbach has estimated that the new lodge will "conservatively" create 20 percent more business at Dollar Mountain, coming not only from families with children, but also adults looking for a more casual ski outing than what might be found on nearby Bald Mountain.

In addition to serving as the winter-season hub for Dollar, the lodge will be made available for off-season activities, such as conferences, weddings and musical performances.

Construction of the lodge, estimated to cost approximately $7 million, has been fast and furious.

Wally Huffman, Sun Valley general manager, announced last April that the company wanted to build a new state-of-the-art day lodge at Dollar and have it open before Christmas.

When it opens, the lodge will have been built from scratch in just seven months, less than half the time that would have elapsed had the project not been greatly accelerated by the Holdings.

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