Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Resort to add to, remodel Lodge

Plans call for adding high-end spa, enlarging rooms

Express Staff Writer

This conceptual site plan shows the intended location of an addition to the Sun Valley Lodge. A service entrance now in that area will be placed underground.
Graphic courtesy of Sun Valley Resort

    The owners and managers of Sun Valley Resort announced Monday that they are enacting plans to remodel the entire Sun Valley Lodge, the resort’s iconic hotel facility constructed in 1936.
    The plans call for constructing an addition to the northerly wing of the structure and renovating most of the interior. The bulk of the work is scheduled to start in September, when resort officials plan to close the lodge for approximately nine months until it is reopened in June 2015.
    Carol Holding, longtime co-owner of the resort with her late husband Earl Holding, and her son Stephen Holding unveiled the plans Monday at a small conference room in the lodge, flanked by architects and project leaders.
    Stephen Holding told a small audience of resort administrators, public officials, journalists and business leaders that the project has three primary goals:

  • To add a world-class spa to the lodge. That plan calls for building a three-story, 20,000-square-foot addition that will connect to the northerly wing of the lodge, adjacent to the outdoor swimming pool. Parts of the northerly wing of the lodge will be converted to new uses and the Lodge Dining Room will be eliminated.
  • To remodel all of the lodge’s guest rooms and to combine some of the smaller rooms into larger, more luxurious accommodations, with fireplaces and expanded bathroom and vanity areas. The total number of rooms at the lodge will decrease from 148 to approximately 100. However, some of the rooms will include multiple beds and sleeper sofas to accommodate families.
  • To upgrade several of the public areas of the lodge, including the main lobby, restaurant facilities and the small bowling alley popular with younger guests.

    The addition will include spa facilities for local residents and resort guests. The spa development will include 15 private treatment rooms for individuals and couples, large locker rooms with steam and sauna facilities, relaxation lounges, a yoga studio and a large fitness facility. The third floor of the addition will include four new guest suites, two that are approximately 1,100 square feet and two that are approximately 600 square feet.
    The spa addition will be connected to and integrated with the northerly wing of the lodge. Parts of the existing lodge, including the Lodge Dining Room, will be repurposed to be part of the spa.
    The addition will include “lots of wood and glass” and will boast “amazing views of Baldy,” Stephen Holding said. Stephen and Carol Holding said the Holding family and the planners have been cautious to retain the character of the historic building.
    “The lodge will still really have the feeling of being the lodge,” Stephen Holding said.
    The heated outdoor pool will be reconstructed but will largely look the same, the building team said. The deck will be expanded and a poolside café will be added. The project also calls for remodeling the family bowling alley in the lodge and adding kids-oriented food service.
    Stephen Holding said the owners have been studying an addition of a spa since 2008, noting that he believes it will make the lodge “so much more valuable.” Both Stephen and Carol Holding said they have a deep appreciation for the Lodge Dining Room and its history but agreed that it has not been economically viable in recent years. Stephen Holding said most guests are seeking “more relaxed” dining options.
    Carol Holding said: “No one loved the LDR more than Earl. … That was his most favorite place. … [But] it isn’t what people want nowadays.”
    Construction of the spa addition is scheduled to start next month.

Renovating the main structure
    The remodel of the existing lodge is scheduled to start in September. Plans call for closing the lodge for business from September 2014 to June 2015.
    “We couldn’t really figure out a way to do it without disrupting our guests,” Stephen Holding said.
    He said the temporary loss of room inventory will likely pose a challenge during peak tourism periods but he and other resort officials believe the resort will be able to accommodate most guests at the Sun Valley Inn and cottages and condominiums in Sun Valley Village.
    Stephen Holding said some of the smallest rooms in the lodge will be combined into suites, some with two queen beds. He said the change will help the resort better accommodate families and the demand for higher-end accommodations.
    “In general, we have not had a luxury product in Sun Valley,” he said, acknowledging that prices will likely go up to reflect the improvements.
    Improvements will also be made to existing suites, including the famous suite named after acclaimed writer Ernest Hemingway. Many of the improvements throughout the lodge will incorporate eco-friendly practices, Stephen Holding said.
    Other aspects of the plan call for remodeling the entire lobby area to create a more receptive, open atmosphere and likely changes to Gretchen’s restaurant and the Duchin Lounge. That part of the plans “is a work in progress,” Stephen Holding said.
    Carol Holding said the popular Sun Room lounge area will not be removed.
    The Holding family did not give a price estimate for the project and did not elaborate on what styles the interior remodel will incorporate.
    The presentation received several accolades from public officials at the meeting.
    “This is really exciting,” said Lisa Horowitz, the city of Ketchum’s community and economic development director.
    “I think this is an incredible undertaking,” said Arlene Schieven, president of the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance.
    Sun Valley Mayor Dewayne Briscoe also praised the project. He said he “is pleased with the ongoing commitment of the [Holding] family” to Sun Valley.
    Indeed, the announcement will be reassuring to many people in the Wood River Valley business community, who were left wondering about the future of the resort after the death of Earl Holding last April. The plans outline the first major development project at Sun Valley Resort since the billionaire owner died at age 86, after investing what is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars into new facilities in Sun Valley Village and on the resort’s two ski mountains and golf courses.
    After the meeting, Briscoe said the city will cooperate with the resort to ensure the plans are reviewed promptly.
    Carol Holding said the project was planned in a careful manner that would reflect the wishes of her late husband.
    “We love Sun Valley,” she said. “ … It was very choice to Earl. … It isn’t like Park City or Deer Valley. It is just special.”
    She expressed confidence that the project will ultimately be a significant benefit to the community.
    “We will all work together,” she said.
    Sun Valley has retained the Boston design firm of Frank Nicholson Inc. and Ketchum-based architects Ruscitto, Latham, Blanton to oversee the project. Their prior projects working for the resort include: River Run Lodge (1994), the Sun Valley Inn and Ballroom expansion (2003), Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge (2004), Sun Valley Lodge improvements (1996 and 2004) and the Sun Valley Pavilion (2008).

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