Saturday, 11 April 2015

Favourite hotels: the Lodge at Sun Valley

Number 3 in an occasional series on places to stay mature travellers will love

It’s said that in Hollywood’s golden years so many stars stayed at Idaho’s Sun Valley Lodge that dinner service was invariably delayed. The reason? Having dressed to kill, they didn’t want to sweep down the curved steps to the dining room if nobody was there to watch them make a grand entrance.

Sun Valley was America’s first “destination ski resort”, built to whip up business for the Union Pacific railroad. That it immediately attracted those we now call A-listers was thanks largely to an ace publicist who had put Miami Beach on the tourist map. Its appeal was boosted when 20th Century Fox made the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade n the resort, starring Olympic champion skier Sonja Henie and with music by the Glenn Miller band.

A long list celebs is associated with the hotel: Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Dick Powell, Norma Shearer, Errol Flynn, Marilyn Monroe and, more recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ernest Hemingway, who shot himself in the nearby town of Ketchum, completed For Whom the Bell Tolls in suite 206.

This June the Lodge, designed in 1935 and long due a facelift, is scheduled to re-open after a major upgrade. Rooms will have been refurbished – and some combined to create new suites with fireplaces and larger bathrooms. The lobby is being extended towards the skating rink, to provide more space. And a big new spa will have been added, next to the swimming pool where there will be a new hot tub.

Sounds impressive. Besides its historic cachet it may now become one of the very best hotels. I admit it's some time since I last visited. But wasn’t luxury that qualified the Lodge as a favourite. It was the remote location as gateway to the wild a beautiful Sawtooth National Recreation Area, the magnificent and varied powder skiing and – above all - the thought of all those who had stayed before.

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