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Hotel Ketchum-‘Hello! Let’s Go!’
Friday, December 22, 2017


Shannon Allen likened Thursday night to the late nights she spent during college cramming for finals.

She spent the night screwing in light bulbs, making beds and fluffing pillows in preparation for holiday guests. But these aren’t just any holiday guests. They’re the first guests to check in to the new Hotel Ketchum.

“They should begin showing up about 4 p.m. Friday. Until then we’ll keep plugging away,” said Allen, general manager of the new hotel across from Backwoods Mountain Sports in Ketchum.

Dozens of workers scurried around Thursday, carrying 12 framed Idaho potato sack artworks into the lobby where they were slated to be arranged in a collage.  Painters worked in the 32-degree chill, staining exterior doors, while others mopped construction dirt off the floor in front of the reception desk.

Most of the building is still very much a work in progress, with a grand opening celebration likely coming in February.

But, already, welcome mats sporting sayings like “Siesta-Fiesta,” “Shop-Drop,” “Hey There! Take Care,” “Run-Relax” and “Hello! Let’s Go!” have been positioned outside each door, which are emblazoned with large color-code room numbers.

And boxes of Majestic Pet dog beds sit waiting to be unpacked.

Allen picked up a coat hook that resembled deer antlers and another in the shape of bunny ears.

“This says ‘Hang hare,’ ” said Allen, who formerly managed the Knob Hill Inn. “We want to be unique. Fun. Not stuffy. After all, we’re dealing with people who come here on vacation.”

The 68-room hotel, which began going under a $4 million renovation, is the fourth boutique hotel owned by brothers Michael and Aaron Brown. And it’s the latest incarnation of a hotel on a site that formerly housed the Clarion Inn and the Bellemont Hotel.

Michael Brown visited Sun Valley while dating his now-wife Courtney, whose family had vacationed in Sun Valley for three decades. And he fell in love with the area.

“Every visitor to Ketchum finds something that they connect with personally,” said Brown, who formed HayMax Hotels with his brother and called it after their middle names—Hayden and Maxwell. “The area never fails to deliver an experience unique to everyone, whether they’re looking for art, outdoor adventure, theater, a great meal or just a welcoming, close-knit community. I knew from day one that this new hotel needed to capture that spirit, rather than being just another hotel.”

The Browns, who also own the Molly Gibson Hotel and Hotel Aspen in Aspen, bought the Tamarack Hotel in Ketchum. After it enjoyed success, they purchased the current hotel at auction.

“Their folks are in the hospitality business back in Michigan. And they’ve been incredibly involved in every aspect of this hotel,” said Allen. “They’re young fun buys who like everything in character. And they’re very inspired with nature—they’re very open to doing anything.”

On Thursday workers carted mock deer trophies with gold antlers into the lobby. Ketchum artist Molly Snee painted the Hotel Ketchum logo on the wall of the new “Hangout” bar, lounge and breakfast room.

And workers carried a large painting of sheep by Ketchum artist Rudi Broschofsky to be installed behind the front desk.

Ketchum’s sheep industry, which once made Ketchum the second largest sheep shipping center in the world, is a recurrent theme running through the hotel.

Thirty-two plastic “Dottie” sheep found at a trade show in Las Vegas will be placed in flocks in communal areas. “Shhh! Counting sheep” do not disturb door hangers will be handed out to guests. And Snee has already painted a “Lucky Ewe” mural on the north facing side of the hotel.

Charlotte Baker has painted 43 cow skulls to be hung in various rooms, and Independent Goods Co., is supplying other objects of interest.

Notepads placed in each room feature mottos brainstormed by staff, including “Explore More” and “Settle In-Set Out.” And the grey hotel robes resemble knee-length sweatshirts with hoodies.

“Every normal hotel has boring white robes. We thought: What can we do to make ours stand out?” said Allen.

The lobby, which features glass globe lights hanging from its two-story ceiling, looks out onto a view of Baldy that was formerly blocked by large pines.

“It’s really a dramatic change from what was here. Much more modern, contemporary,” said Allen, noting the contemporary jute poofs in front of the gas fireplace with its copper hood. “We worked with Studio 11 out of Dallas—they do hospitality design, which needs to involve more durable material than what you’d put in your home.”

A library sits upstairs, soon to be full of books by Hemingway and books featuring hiking trails in the area.

We want infused with character relevant to Idaho, to Ketchum. What we don’t want is for someone to walk in and say, ‘Oh, I could be in the Marriott in Denver,’ ” said Allen.

Most of Hotel Ketchum’s king and double queen rooms open into adjacent rooms, offering families easy access to one another.

Bedrooms feature luxury vinyl tile that softens noise. Even the carpet under the beds are a form of tile—if someone spills red wine on a corner “tile” can be pulled up and replaced.

In an effort to be green, showers will feature built-in shampoo, conditioner and soap pumps.

The year-round outdoor heated swimming pool and oversized hot tub feature a lift assist, in keeping the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A fitness room, still under construction, will feature treadmill, elliptical and stationary bikes.

A gear garage will house sleds, snowshoes and work bench for those who wish to tune skis and snowboards during winter. Come summer it will feature symphony chairs, hiking poles, day packs, dog leashes and a place to work on bicycles.

Communal spaces will offer guests a chance to connect with friends and enjoyed hotel-sponsored events featuring local artists, yoga instructors and more.

Balconies have been replaced with grey industrial decking and the internet connection upgraded.

In February Sturtevants will place a concept shop with ski and bike rentals in one of the retail spaces lining Main Street, which already features a “Blk Mkt” pop-up shop that will stage a grand opening party tonight.

And in April construction will begin on a coffee shop featuring grab-and-go meals, snacks and coffee from Equator Coffees & Teas. The coffee shop will be built on the empty lot that once housed KDPI radio station.

A search is under way to find a restaurant to fill the spot formerly occupied by the Moose Girls.

Hotel Ketchum rates start at $179, said Allen.

“They’ve really made a large investment here,” she added. “And I think it will revive the area of town.”

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