Rising Sun

(The Spa at Sun Valley (ID))

Known as a glam getaway in its heyday, Sun Valley, ID, has a Hollywood story rivaling those of the many celebs who flock there. The Valley first became a mecca for fortune seekers in the 1870s when gold was discovered out West. Soon after, the nearby town of Ketchum became a booming mining town. Its healing hot springs were also a draw for those interested in the mineral waters. The town’s first taste of prosperity wasn’t to last, however, as the mining boom soon ended. The once-thriving town was left with a dwindling population until Count Felix Schaffgotsch was hired by the chairman of Union Pacific Railroad to scout for a location to build a destination ski resort. Despite having visited various U.S. mountain towns, as well as prime spots in Austria and Switzerland, Schaffgotsch was immediately struck by the Ketchum area. As a result, Sun Valley became America’s first destination ski resort, drawing celebs such as Ingrid Bergman, Clark Gable, and Ernest Hemingway, who eventually made Sun Valley his home. 

Today, Sun Valley Resort remains a popular retreat, especially after its recent update, which involved guest room renovations, updates to the outdoor pool, and more. Of course, one of the lodge’s most enticing transformations is the addition of The Spa at Sun Valley. According to spa director Tiffany Cameron, family is at the heart of all decisions affecting the resort. “When the Holding family decided to undertake this massive expansion, they did so for the simple fact that they wanted everyone to enjoy the resort—their home—as much as they do,” she says. “So they built the spa with its relaxation lounges facing the majestic views of the Sawtooth Mountains on one side and the charming swan pond on the other.”

Inside the 20,000-square-foot spa, guests find two stunning fireplaces anchoring the lobby, which also serves double duty as a retail boutique. Fifteen luxe treatment rooms set the stage for total relaxation, a feeling that is encouraged throughout the inviting space. While there are both men’s and women’s lounges, couples often prefer to kick back in the coed lounge, which features majestic views—unmatched elsewhere in the Valley—of Bald Mountain. “I believe most who are visiting us for the first time are ensuring that the silver-screen feel of the lodge before it was renovated is still felt within its walls,” says Cameron. “It is, as you can see it in their eyes when they walk in. Spa-goers are looking for the luxury they’ve come to expect from Sun Valley.”The Spa at Sun Valley (ID)

Attracting both novice and savvy spa-goers, the spa and its menu are designed to make everyone feel welcome. According to Cameron, the menu was a challenge at first. “I had never been to Sun Valley before and had absolutely no preconceived notions as to what the organic feel of the spa menu should be,” she says. “I spent quite a bit of time outside. It was there in the fresh air that I was able to breathe life into the menu and discover what it was meant to be: organic and full of life and nature.” With that in mind, Cameron realized that the community would embrace and expect, “luxury with an element of wholesomeness.”

To accomplish that, it was important to select the ideal product lines. Naturopathica was chosen for the spa’s facials, Phytomer for its body treatments, and SpaRitual for its nail services. A host of others were also selected, because they promote healthy living. Catering to an active clientele, the spa offers a variety of massages to relieve tired and sore muscles. By far the most popular is the White Cloud Massage ($130, 50 minutes; $180, 80 minutes), which is customized using Naturopathica products. The spa also offers numerous facials, such as the Sensitive Soother ($135, 50 minutes; $190, 80 minutes) and the Brightening Facial ($140, 50 minutes; $200, 80 minutes). There are even two involving the HydraFacial machine. Acupuncture is also on the menu for spa-goers interested in alternative therapies.

With more than 30 employees on staff—most of them part-time—the spa handles approximately 100 guests each day. “Through the shoulder and slack seasons, we see that number halved,” says Cameron. According to her, staffing can be a challenge in the somewhat remote area. “We live in a stunning, beautiful place that almost feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere,” says Cameron. “Many people in the spa industry have yet to hear about Sun Valley. As we make our mark on the industry, we’re gaining more and more interest from a staffing standpoint.”

Fortunately, it hasn’t hurt the spa’s retail numbers. “Retail is huge in our spa,” says Cameron. “Everything that we offer in services is sold in retail. We’ve seen our retail numbers climb higher and higher as guests and locals find that our prices are reasonable, and they want to take their experience home with them.”

Looking toward the future, Cameron and her staff are aiming to be the best in the industry. “We have the opportunity to offer the latest and greatest technology in services and equipment,” says Cameron. “When guests book a service at the Spa at Sun Valley, they can feel assured that they’re receiving the best services with the education and talent of qualified technicians to perform them.” Paying homage to its storied past, Sun Valley has always strived to be a fabulous getaway. Thanks to the new spa, it’s destined to shine even brighter. 

Owner: R. Earl Holding family

Spa Director: Tiffany Cameron

Opened: June 2015

Client Base

70% female

30% male


20,000 square feet

15 treatment rooms


Anatomie, Cirepil, Comphy Co., CND, Coolibar, Design Parliament, FarmHouse Fresh, Goldwell, Hugger Mugger, Inoa, Jane Iredale, Living Proof, Marc Jacobs, Moroccanoil, Naked Princess, Naturopathica, Oka B., OPI, Phytomer, Pureology, So Pretty Cara Cotter, Soy Delicious, SpaRitual, The Mansfield Robe Company, Tom Ford, TOV Essentials


Belvedere, Booker, Clarisonic, HydraFacial, Lenox, Living Earth Crafts, Silhouet-Tone

Interior Designer

Frank Nicholson (Boston)


Ruscitto, Latham, and Blanton (Sun Valley, ID)