Friday, August 1, 2014

Amid a strong summer, Sun Valley prepares to close Lodge for remodel

Representatives, business owners reflect on impending changes

Express Staff Writer

Crews work on the 20,000-square-foot spa addition to the Sun Valley Lodge. Photo by Roland Lane

Coinciding with improved summer occupancy levels and a growing emphasis on the resort’s other facilities, the Sun Valley Lodge will close in September for a full remodel.
    The 31,000-square-foot addition and remodel includes a new two-floor spa with third-floor guest suites, as well as demolition of the Lodge Dining Room and rebuilding of the outdoor swimming pool. All guest rooms in the Lodge will be remodeled, along with the lobby.
    Construction on the new spa and swimming pool began in late April and has continued this summer, with most of the Lodge still staying open to accommodate guests. Resort representatives have declined to reveal the cost of the project.
    As of this week, workers have installed footings and began constructing stem walls for the spa addition, resort spokesman Jack Sibbach said.
    The Lodge will be closed from Sept. 3 to June 1, 2015, but the rest of the resort—including the Sun Valley Inn, the village shops, the conference center and all of the skiing and recreational facilities—will stay open.
    Both Sun Valley and Ketchum have seen better occupancy numbers for summer 2014 compared to last summer. For the week of July 17-23, there was an occupancy rate of 78 percent in the two cities, as compared to a 65 percent during the same week last year.
    “We see a trend of some pocketbooks opening a little bit more again,” Sibbach said.
    He cited last year’s Beaver Creek Fire as a deterrent to business in summer 2013.
    Carol Knight, owner of The Toy Store, a longtime local business with locations in both Ketchum and Sun Valley Village, said business has bounced back from the low revenues of summer 2013.
    “Sun Valley’s numbers have been very strong,” she said.
    Knight said she’s seen more people hanging out in Sun Valley Village this summer, a trend that she says is reflected by increased patronage of the medley of resort-owned and independent food, curio and clothing shops that line the village sidewalks.  
    “It’s business as usual for the Lodge,” Knight said, referring to the construction on the Lodge as positive.
    While the lodge is being remodeled, the resort will try to maintain the jobs of full-time employees at Gretchen’s restaurant, the Duchin Lounge, the Lodge gift shop and the bowling alley by routing them into other resort restaurants and businesses, Sibbach said. The Boiler Room, situated next to the Konditorei restaurant and bakery, will be reconfigured as a nightlife destination for locals and guests, he said.
    “We’ve got other places to get cocktails in the resort,” he said.
    Many part-time workers are seasonal, so the early September closure of the Lodge will come at the same time as their natural migration out of the valley.
    As for future monetary losses, Sibbach said the pros outweigh the cons of temporary closure.
    “Will we lose some business? Yes,” he said. “How much? There’s lots of different predictions out there.”
    Sun Valley Mayor DeWayne Briscoe factored a 15 percent local-option-tax decrease into his draft budget for fiscal year 2015.
    “There are expected losses from rooms and liquor, but some increases in building permits and materials,” he said in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express.
    Sibbach said resort representatives called every person with a room reservation when they decided to undertake the remodel, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
    “There have been very, very few that have told us they’re not coming if they can’t stay in the Lodge,” he said.
    The remodel of the Lodge will include upgrading and refurbishing all of the guest rooms, with some rooms being combined to create larger, more luxurious suites. The project also calls for enlarging and modernizing all of the bathrooms and upgrading the plumbing throughout the structure.
    Once completed, Sibbach said, the remodel will bring economic gains to the entire valley.

Sun Valley Lodge remodel
The Sun Valley Lodge will be closed from Sept. 3 to June 1, 2015, for an extensive remodeling project. The rest of the resort—including the Sun Valley Inn, the village shops, the conference center and all of the skiing and recreational facilities—will stay open. The resort’s day spa is open for business in its alternative location in Sun Valley Village, near the Sun Valley Post Office.


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