Anyone wandering around Sun Valley Lodge this week knows Sinclair Oil is in town holding a conference this week. A temporary flashing banner sits in the grass along the lodge's Sun Valley Road entrance surrounded by American flags. The scrolling message "Welcome to the 2010 dealer conference. Sinclair. We're about as American as it gets" alludes to the reason for the jammed parking lot and increased activity.
Summertime conferences like this have bolstered bookings for the resort's lodging and meeting rooms, contributing a great deal in making this summer an "improvement" over the 2009 slump, spokesman Jack Sibbach said.
The resort doesn't reveal booking numbers, Sibbach said, but management is very happy with August and September, which are seeing "substantially" more business than last year, although not record breaking.
"We're very happy with the progress," he said.
And, he said, the summer season's flow of business doesn't end when the weather cools, but extends into October.
The state of Sun Valley Resort's bookings is especially important because it's the largest lodging establishment in the valley and translates to more business for many others: restaurants, stores and even others in hospitality.
This has also been a summer of several firsts for the resort. Bald Mountain's Roundhouse Express Gondola saw its first summertime traffic, being outfitted with mountain bike-carrying cabins. In connection with the gondola, the Roundhouse restaurant has also been open for lunch, another first.
The historic restaurant, located midway up Bald Mountain at the gondola's terminus, underwent a facelift prior to last winter season, resulting in a renovated dining hall, heated cement stairs and the most notable alteration of all, a new bar dubbed Averell's.
Sibbach said plans to open Roundhouse for dinner are still being discussed, something the resort wanted to do last winter season but couldn't because the U.S. Forest Service said the Americans with Disabilities Act requires the Roundhouse to provide handicapped access and handicap-accessible bathrooms if Sun Valley wants to open it for dinner.
Sibbach said summertime mountain traffic is up from last year.
As far as the mountain goes, summer business is almost over. The lifts will run daily through Sept. 6 and on weekends through Sept. 26.
"It's been a successful summer," Sibbach said.
Trevon Milliard: firstname.lastname@example.org