The Wood River Valley is seeing more change in the next two years than it has in the previous 25, with two new hotels coming to Ketchum and a major renovation on a classic shaking up the status quo. The Aspen Skiing Company and Auberge Resorts are jumping into the luxury hotel mix along with Sun Valley Resort and the Knob Hill Inn, a Columbia Hospitality property.
GRANDE DAME RE-IMAGINED
The historic Sun Valley Lodge recently finished a major renovation, adding 30,000 square feet, a new spa, updated lobby, refurbished guest rooms and more. While the Lodge lost a few rooms, it more than made up for it with both bigger rooms and bathrooms. In addition, the interior design has been revamped and made more contemporary. This is all not to mention the new state-of-the-art, 20,000-square-foot luxury spa adjoining the Lodge.
The first of the new hotels coming to downtown Ketchum is the Limelight Sun Valley, operated by Aspen Skiing Company. This is Aspen Skiing Co.’s first endeavor outside of Colorado, where they operate the Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk, Snowmass and Aspen Highlands ski resorts. Slotted for 151 S. Main Street in Ketchum, site of the historic Bald Mountain Hot Springs (1929), the hotel will have 119 rooms and 11 residential units tailored to the “social adventurers” the hotels seeks to attract, according to Aspen Ski Co. Director of Public Relations Jeff Hanle. The hotel hopes to serve people “passionate about experiential travel,” explained Hanle, by featuring numerous complimentary adventure programs, including skiing and biking. They will also offer adventurous culinary experiences, such as “regular beer dinners, Grand Slam dinners, live music in the land, extended happy hours, and après and other food and beverage adventures,” to keep their intrepid guests satisfied. In Aspen, their Limelight Hotel has become a hotspot and gathering place for both locals and visitors, and the company hopes to reproduce this dynamic in Ketchum. They plan to open in November of 2016, in time for the 2016-2017 ski season.
Local developer Jack Bariteau and renowned hospitality company Auberge Resorts will open a second new hotel along Trail Creek in downtown Ketchum in 2017. The luxury development will have 62 hotel accommodations and 14 residences, including six penthouses, as well as a full service spa, restaurant and bar, and meeting facilities. This hotel has been a long time coming; Bariteau began the process in 2004, but his efforts were stymied by the 2008 recession. Increased air access, facilitated by the Valley’s approval of the LOT tax initiative in 2012 and 2013, has given the project new life. Bariteau, an experienced and successful local developer who has worked in the Valley since 1998, has paired with the acclaimed Auberge Resorts to offer the Auberge Resort Sun Valley. Bariteau and his partners saw an opportunity to revitalize downtown Ketchum by offering a “true, five-star, luxury property into the market,” he said. Both he and Auberge have a dedication to and a reputation for tailored, personal service, making them a natural fit as partners.
Auberge Resorts has “developed a following,” Bariteau noted, “because of their attentiveness to the experience.” They focus on “knowing their customers, so that when you arrive they know who you are …your name … the things that you like to do.” While providing this, they hope to attract a “wealthier traveler who doesn’t mind paying for that experience.” The Auberge Resort Sun Valley is set to open in October 2017, in time for the 2017-2018 ski season.
All of this development should revitalize and reinvigorate a community that hasn’t seen much movement in the hospitality department in quite some time. With new air access and a surge in new construction, the Valley can expect a rash of new visitors, all ready to fall in love with the area and all it has to offer.