Located 700 miles away from the glitz and glamour of Aspen, Sun Valley may not be on every affluent traveler’s wish list for a luxury ski getaway. Where Aspen is all style, Sun Valley is “roughing it in style” (as Union Pacific Railroad chairman Averell Harriman called it in 1935). But before you discount Sun Valley as a true luxury ski resort, you might want to consider this fact: the Idaho retreat was the nation’s first destination ski resort, attracting the likes of Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, Erroll Flynn, Bing Crosby and other Hollywood starlets of the 1930s. Still a celebrity destination today, it has been named the no.1 ski resort by Condé Nast Traveler, Ski Magazine, and Gourmet Magazine—beloved for its brilliant sun, short lift lines, “fast” fluffy snow and relative anonymity for the rich and famous. Explains Todd Conklin, luxury specialist and owner of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties in Sun Valley: “It’s a different type of person who goes to Sun Valley than Aspen and other ski markets. After 75 years, it still has this feeling of authenticity. The super elite enjoys almost complete anonymity and privacy here.” In other words, leave your Dior and Bentleys behind when you visit Sun Valley.
Do: Naturally, you’re going to want to ski or snowboard. Bald Mountain is the primary ski mountain of Sun Valley, and is revered for its lengthy runs of constant gradient, varying levels of difficulty and absence of wind. Accomplished skiers (with enough stamina) will also appreciate the fact that “Baldy” offers a vertical drop of over 3,400 feet—skiable as one continuous run.
See: If you don’t have the stomach for downhill, you can always spend the day in snowshoes exploring the trail that takes you to Trail Creek Cabin, a landmark and part of the Sun Valley Resort since 1937. (Legend has it novelist Ernest Hemingway and other famous personalities celebrated New Year’s Eve at Trail Creek Cabin). Cap off your day at Zynergy at Thunder Spring, voted among “The Most Luxurious Fitness Clubs Across America” by CNBC.
Eat: Established in 1959, Michel’s Christiania Restaurant in Ketchum delivers the best all-around formal après-ski dining experience. You’ll dine on Idaho “pommes frites,” filet au poivre vert and tarte tatin in the company of old photographs from owner Michel Rudigoz’s days as Coach of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Ski Team when several Sun Valley locals became ski champions (Christin Cooper, Abbi Fisher-Gould and Maria Maricich to name a few). Olympic Gold Medalist Picabo Street even gave a signed pair of skis to adorn the wall as did Italian Champion Alberto Tomba. Call (208) 726-3388 for reservations.
Stay: Put the St. Regis or The Ritz-Carlton out of your mind for a few days and stay at the Sun Valley Lodge for a rich sense of history and refreshing old world charm. Founded in 1936, Sun Valley Lodge offers a congenial feel with everything from cozy cottages to three-bedroom condominiums. But if you’re looking for total privacy, look no further than Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties for Luxury Condo and Estate Accommodations—the largest luxury vacation rental and management company in the area.
Live: Sun Valley is perhaps better known for its 5-star worthy private vacation properties. This gated 5-acre riverfront property offers just the sort of luxe mountain hideaway that has long kept Sun Valley a best kept secret among celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks and Bruce Willis who want to vacation undisturbed. Boasting European style main-floor living, the home offers open rooms with large windows, high ceilings, five fireplaces and Big Wood River views from all of the rooms. Represented by Todd Conklin and Stephanie Reed for $6,950,000 USD.