Monday, January 20, 2020
Sun Valley Opens Tunnel Just in Time for Santa
Santa dashes across the top of the new pedestrian tunnel in the Sun Valley Inn.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Santa Claus didn’t need a chimney to slide down at this weekend’s Tree Lighting Ceremony at Sun Valley Resort.

Nor did he need a pony-drawn sleigh or golf court as in years past.

The jolly ol’ guy took a page out of Sun Valley’s cherished history to arrive on the back of a choo-choo train through a new pedestrian tunnel carved into the Sun Valley Inn.

Sun Valley Resort’s Brent Gillette shows off one of the remodeled guest rooms in the Sun Valley Inn.

The train engine evoked the resort’s origins as America’s first destination ski resort, built by Union Pacific Railroad. And the tunnel was a throwback to the days when the Sun Valley Inn was the Challenger Inn and Union Pacific brought passengers on buses right through the tunnel into the Bavarian-style village.

The resort closed up the tunnel in 1984, said Mike Fitzpatrick, Sun Valley’s director of marketing. But it elected to carve out a new tunnel in the Inn this year as part of the second phase of the Inn’s remodel.

The tunnel brings back the spirit of Sun Valley as a pedestrian village when it opened in 1937, said Fitzpatrick.

Not only does it provide a new point of entry for Santa but it will allow guests easier access to the village and hot pool from the parking lot east of the Inn. And come spring it will offer people access to a park that will be created on the site of the old Moritz Hospital.

Santa rode a choo-choo train to his gig at the Sun Valley Tree Lighting Ceremony.

“People wanted it back, and we realized it was an integral part of what the village is all about,” Fitzpatrick said.

On this particular night the tunnel sported shades of red and green inside with Santa and his reindeer alight over the top.

And, while the outside of the Inn still bears resemblance to an Austrian ski chalet, the rooms inside have been given a modern update thanks to a two-year remodeling project that is nearly complete.

Sun Valley’s Therese Magner showed guests the new look, which includes granite and Italian marble sinks in the guest bathrooms. It also included bathroom floors and walls that elicited “Wows!” from tour-goers.

Beth Willis checks out the trim in one of the bathrooms of the Sun Valley Inn.

The floors, for instance, look as if they’re made of wood. But they’re actually tile, said Magner, who is in Group Sales for Sun Valley. Ditto for the walls, which look like tightly woven fabric.

“That’s the new look and it’s easier to clean,” she said.

The rooms in the Inn had been winnowed from 105 rooms to 97.

They include 54 luxury suites, a room with a fireplace and a grand room with a pull-out sofa. Some of the bathrooms are long and rectangular; some are square. Each of the rooms has a nice view, whether of Baldy, the Pioneers or even the courtyard outside the Inn.

Chairs from Portugal ensure that a stay at the Inn feels like home away from home.

“It’s not like going to a hotel and having cookie cutter rooms. There’s more character to them,” said Magner.

Furnishings, which include chairs from Portugal, are similar to the furnishings in the Sun Valley Loge. Large flat-screen TVs hang on the walls.

And the double beds are gone.

“We switched out the doubles because people don’t like doubles anymore. They want king or queen-sized beds,” said Brent Gillette.

The rooms range in price from $195 to $990, depending on the time of the year.

The Inn remodel was part of a two-year remodel project that included a remodel of The Ram Restaurant and Bar and the creation of the Village Station sports bar and pizza/pasta station.


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