fast lifts, small lines, great day lodges, town of ketchum
perennial lack of snow, limited runs, dated lodging
Perhaps my last trip here for a while during xmas '09, after many visits through the years. The main problem being the lack of snow issues and tired lodging. Despite a lot of snowmaking, in reality it's not a lot of runs, which forces everyone, including a lot of beginners, onto the same 3-5 trails funneling down the mountain. However, without snowmaking the resort would have been closed, for the surrounding closed terrain was brown grass. When it's reported that 20 trails are open you have to figure the "upper", "middle", and "lower" portions of the same trails, you do the arithmetic. This will always be an issue here, perhaps more so with global warming, and a big disappointment for a western resort that's hard to get to. The other major problem, especially in the condominiums, is that they're tired and fading, not at all kept up to date with other upscale resorts. I suggest when making a reservation that you clearly tell the agent what your expectations are, i.e., tv's in each bedroom (not a given) meda center, and at least relatively new furnishings (not a given) and reasonable access to heart of Sun Valley village (not a given and they've limited the shuttle sevice to accomodations closest to center!). The lodge/inn themselves are fine, well kept, with small rooms and are by far the most convenient, 4 star accomodations. When you check in here you get a card to charge almost everytihng to your account, including the yummy offerings at the day lodges on mountain and equipment gear at the "host" shops. The food choices at the "village" are limited to a few restaurants, none of which are very good, with disorganized service. It's much more preferable/enjoyable to go into Ketchum, the charming western town 1 mile down from the "village", and visit some of its many excellent restaurants and apres ski fun - Bisto 44, Ketchum Grill, Sawtooth Club, Il Naso, Roosevelt Grill, Global, and many others. The shops are varied and interesting, and this town is the best thing here (unless the mountain is full of snow - unforturnately, rarely). Sun Valley needs to watch itself and not glide on fading status, a major overall of all accomodations (and telling condo owners to modernize or get out of the rental pool) is necessary, as is basically top to bottom snowmaking - including the bowls and expert terrain - otherwise it will not be able to compete with some other excellent choices in the west that have already surpassed it on most fronts. When this is accomplished I'll return for a visit.