That’s according to SKI magazine, which rated Sun Valley first in western North America for charm in its annual “Resorts of the Year” issue for 2019, and third place for “Overall Satisfaction.”
The publication changed its methodology this year, replacing its longstanding overall ranking with a series of categories that included scenery, steeps, off-day activities and nightlife.
For readers, no place topped Sun Valley for its charm, or for lift service, which also rated No. 1 in the West.
“It’s still a place with a sense of glamour—off the slopes and on,” wrote SKI’s Content Director Samantha Berman. “Sun Valley’s loyal fan base ranks it favorably in skier amenities: Lodging, Dining, Après, Nightlife, Lifts, Service, Grooming, you get the gist. And the skiing—intermediate to expert terrain at Bald Mountain, or Baldy, and a beginner’s paradise at Dollar Mountain—satisfies all comers.”
Readers ranked Sun Valley inside the top 10 among Western resorts in 14 of 18 categories (see sidebar), only dinging the area for accessibility and issues regarding Baldy itself, which finished outside the top 10 in snow, challenge and terrain variety.
“We’ve been tracking these numbers for years,” said Sun Valley spokeswoman Kelli Lusk. “We’re pleased that we consistently rank among the highest in the country.”
As far as Geraldine Link of the National Ski Areas Association is concerned, the poll got that part right.
“When you visit Sun Valley, history grabs you and hospitality envelops you,” she said. “Sun Valley has a great reputation amongst its peers in the ski industry.”
In 2018—the final year of the magazine’s longstanding aggregate rankings—Sun Valley took second place, trailing Deer Valley, Utah.
This year, the magazine broke things down piece by piece, focusing on individual aspects of each resort.
“The ski resorts around the U.S. and Canada are incredibly vast and unique—each brings something different to the vacation equation,” Berman wrote. “We took the information gleaned from the survey data, combined it with the collective expertise of our editors and contributing writers, and focused our resort coverage on answering that singular question: ‘Where should you ski this winter?’”
By that combination, Aspen Snowmass earned the magazine’s “Best in the West” honor.
As far as overall satisfaction as voted by readers, Aspen placed fourth, behind Whitefish, Mont., Deer Valley and Sun Valley.
“The most consistently awesome ski experience anywhere,” one reader said of Bald Mountain. “Nice people, great dining, and no lift lines!”
“A secret heaven,” said another. “All in all, a wonderful experience.”
For the resort itself, the readers poll serves as a sort of report card, tracking progress—and challenges—year over year, according to Director of Marketing and Public Relations Mike Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick keeps a spreadsheet recording how his resort performs. He was just beginning to dive into the new data Thursday afternoon.
“Readers have a lot of insight, and for us, it’s fascinating,” he said. “I think we have a lot to be proud of. We got more top 10s than any other resort in the West—that’s significant.”
Elsewhere in Idaho
Sun Valley gets the most ink, but Brundage Mountain made a splash with SKI brass this year, earning an Editor’s Choice—Next Best Places award for up-and-coming areas.
“Brundage flies way under the radar of most skiers, but that really ought to change,” they wrote of the resort, which sits less than 10 miles north of McCall. “This 1,500-acre ski area in central Idaho serves up killer glades, family friendly groomers, and mellow-yet-scenic bowl skiing in Lakeview Bowl on the backside. “
Schweitzer Mountain Resort, northwest of Sandpoint and less than 50 miles from the Canadian border, made the spread, too.
“The lifts are slow (er, old fashioned),” the editors wrote, “but the views of sparkling Lake Pend Oreille give Tahoe areas a reason to be nervous.”
Reposted from the Mountain Express.