2003 Number 14 Resort in North America: Sun Valley, Idaho


Sun Valley's owner, Earl Holding, might be forgiven for not financing a lot of new projects last year. He did, after all, funnel some $70 million into his other mountain, Snowbasin, Utah, the 2002 Winter Olympic downhill and super G venue. This suits many Sun Valley loyalists fine. To add much more is to gild a near-perfect lily. Sun Valley's retro ad this season reads, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." However, "Sun Valley is 40 years behind the times," complains one reader. Well, yes and no. If you're looking for a modern, urban-skiing vacation, go to Vail or Whistler. If you want to escape all that for a gracious, core skiing experience-"the way ski trips used to be"-make the considerable trek to Sun Valley. As another reader says, "It's the last of the truly elegant lodges and ski hills." Be prepared to meet great skiers and celebrities on the "perfect pitch" of Mt. Baldy. They're drawn to the "twinkling village of Ketchum," with its plush serenity and friendly service, and the Sun Valley Lodge itself, now in its 67th year. You might not find powder, but you're guaranteed a tree-line-to-tree-line carpet pumped out by the world's largest computerized snowmaking system. You will find no liftlines, and the dished runs tug you gently down, inviting you to arc beautiful turns. -Stu Campbell

WHAT'S NEW Daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles on Horizon Air, which is reminiscent of the old "Snowball Express" ski trains.

A GOOD DEAL Turkey Special: Sun Valley Resort is offering four nights' lodging, three days of skiing and a lavish Thanksgiving buffet starting at $254 per person, Nov. 27-Dec. 1 (800-786-8259).

MEDALS GOLD Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Lifts, Service, Weather, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Dining, Off-Hill Activities; Silver Snow, Après, Family Programs, Scenery.

HIGH/LOW RANK On-Mountain Food (2), Grooming (3), Service (3); Value (47), Terrain Parks (51), Access (54).

DON'T MISS Dinner at the downtown Christiana, owned by former U.S. Ski Team coach, Michel Rudigoz.

READER REMARKS (+) "The Mercedes of American skiing." "Great fall lines. No need for yo-yoing." "Superior grooming and fast lifts." (-) "You can't get there from here." "Bring dollars." "Not for beginners."