Sunday, May 19, 2019
High Fives Offered Sun Valley Businesses
A worker lays pavers in front of the archway at the Sun Valley Inn, which has been reopened in conjunction with the remodeling project currently taking place.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018


Fall was “pretty awesome” in Sun Valley, the executive director of the Visit Sun Valley marketing organization told business people and hospitality managers earlier this week.

“Everyone deserves high fives,” Scott Fortner told nearly a hundred people attending Visit Sun Valley’s quarterly meeting held at Ketchum’s Community library.

The receipt of local option taxes in Ketchum was up 8 percent between April and September. Occupancy was up 9 percent during that period. And enplanements were up 6 percent from May through September.

What’s more, Sun Valley’s August figures eclipsed August 2017, which was bolstered by visitors who came to watch the total solar eclipse.

And the occupancy for September is up 20 percent.

“That’s a huge improvement from 2017,” said Fortner. “We had great weather and great lineup of events. We don’t have numbers yet for October, but they’re going to be strong.”

Advance reservations for Sun Valley and other ski resorts are lagging a little, in part because of an  election hangover, Fortner said. In addition, the consolidation of resorts has people checking out new products.

Some Colorado resorts—Loveland, Breckenridge, Eldora Mountain, Arapahoe Basin and Keystone--opened this past week to get a jump on the season.

School calendars are changing so business people should be prepared to see traditional visitation patterns change, Fortner said.

Sun Valley received publicity in the New York Times, Outside magazine, Forbes, Sunset, Today and Readers Digest this year.

And Sun Valley’s inclusion in the new Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve saw a tremendous amount of interest from both visitors and media over the summer said Ray Gadd, content marketing manager for Visit Sun Valley.

 The City of Ketchum will hold another Solstice Party on Dec. 23 and the Idaho Conservation League will conduct a coffee talk about the new reserve at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28 at the Konditorei Restaurant in Sun Valley Resort.

The Sawtooth Botanical Gardening held four lectures and star gazing parties this past year.

“But we need more,” Gadd said, encouraging business people to figure out ways to incorporate the dark skies designation into what they do.

In other news:

  • Delta has added a third flight between Sun Valley and Salt Lake City, an afternoon flight that will start up in December, said Carol Waller, executive director of Fly Sun Valley Alliance.

    United Airlines is taking over the non-stop Los Angeles flight from Alaska Airlines.

    The Portland flight has been deleted because of poor demand.

    Diversion bussing is in place to bus people from Twin Falls when planes can’t land at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey. A cheerful video made by Mat Gershater will remind riders that, while they’re on the bus, the good news is that means it’s snowing in Sun Valley.

    “I know no one wants their flight to be diverted, but this is a hugely important service,” said Waller. “It’s very unusual for anyone in the country to offer this service. And it means we will get you to your destination close to schedule.”

  • Mountain Rides will start the Valley Route in Sun Valley, instead of by Wells Fargo Bank in Ketchum as it has in the past.

    The Blue Route between downtown and Warm Springs will run until 2 a.m. this winter.

    And there will be a bus route encompassing Warm Springs, River Run and South Valley, as well as a Warm Springs-River Run connection.

    The transportation company is bringing back the Green Route to the Meadows Trailer Park south of Ketchum with one northbound route in the morning and a southbound route in the evening.

    It’s offering its Airport Route to Ketchum and Sun Valley for $3.

  • Mountain Rides will start its Galena Ride n’ Glide route earlier than ever this year, beginning on Thanksgiving Day and running through March 3. It will offer four northbound trips from Ketchum on the days it’s operating. It will offer free rides Dec. 8-9 for Demo Days. Otherwise, fares will be $5 one way and $8 round trip. A season pass good for unlimited rides will be available for $39, available at
  • Sun Valley has leveled ground and cut trees so it can get started on the new Cold Springs lift as soon as the snow melts next summer, said Sun Valley spokesperson Brent Gillette.

    Additionally, the Resort thinned out trees off Graduate and Can Can runs in the Frenchman’s area, which will offer more glade skiing for skiers and boarders this year.

    It closed the Sun Valley Inn in September to revamp 80 guests rooms, with most of them expected to be done by Christmas. And it’s building more than a hundred rooms of employee housing, which will benefit the valley since a lot of those employees work at other local restaurants and businesses, as well.

  • Those who help promote Visit Sun Valley’s marketing videos say the organization’s summer marketing video received the highest engagement among viewers they’ve ever seen, said Fortner. The new winter video is similar, featuring art, wine, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, backcountry snowsports and hockey.
  • Visit Sun Valley is putting its marketing dollars in Chicago, New York, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles this year. Many of those are, unfortunately, some of the most expensive markets in the county, noted Fortner. The organization is also advertising within Idaho.
  • Visit Sun Valley has created a “flight widget” for its website that will offer those flying to Sun Valley a chance to see options taking them through regional airports like Boise, Twin Falls and Salt Lake City.
  • The Visitor Center fielded questions from an average 70 guests a day on peak summer days, said Aly Swindley, who oversees membership and visitor services for Visit Sun Valley. It fields questions from about 40 people a day during off season.


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