Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Things done right

    The Sun Valley area soon may see ground broken on its first five-star boutique hotel. Its completion will be a monument to optimism, patience and perseverance. It will be the result of years of work and thousands of hours of efforts by local people.
    The Auberge Resorts Sun Valley hotel was called Hotel Ketchum when it worked its way through city review and received final design approval in 2009.
    Construction of the estimated 80- to 90-room hotel will mark the first time in decades that the number of hotel rooms in the area will expand instead of shrink. The hotel will provide a luxury level of rooms and service that has been missing in the area’s lodging mix.
    Combined with the remodeling, creation of suites and addition of a luxury spa that are under way at the historic Sun Valley Lodge, the area’s future lodging options are looking very shiny indeed.
    Another benefit of the arrival of Auberge Resorts will be some added heft for area marketing. The new hotel will be part of the company’s properties that include luxury resorts in Napa  Valley, Calif.; Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; Aspen and Telluride, Colo.; Bend, Ore.; and Anguilla, British West Indies.
    The new hotel comes on the heels of new and expanded air service to the area from California, Washington and Colorado on state-of-the-art regional jets. By all accounts the jets are delivering a lot of new visitors to the area.
    The air service improvements and new hotel are the fruits of labors not only by hotel developer Jack Bariteau, but by local business groups, city, county, state and federal governments, and local voters.
    The complex groundwork necessary for the hotel included the creation of Ketchum ordinances that encouraged instead of impeded modern hotels, while still addressing public concerns and the need for adequate infrastructure.
    It was strengthened by the leadership of former state Rep. Wendy Jaquet, Fly Sun Valley Alliance and the Wood River Economic Project. They helped voters translate the recognition that economic progress would require careful investment of public funds into voter approval of a local sales tax for air service.
    It required the cooperation of the Federal Aviation Administration with the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority to get the airport in shape for regular flights by regional jets—something that didn’t seem possible for a long time.
    The simple announcement of a new hotel was the mark of a whole lot of things done right.

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