In 1929, when a forward-thinking Ketchum, Idaho, businessman named Carl E. Brandt pumped water from the nearby Guyer Hot Springs into a large natatorium and surrounded it with 31 cabins, he created one of the earliest resorts in the state. Six years later, the Union Pacific Railroad purchased 4,300 acres and founded the Sun Valley Ski Resort.
Ketchum and Sun Valley have changed since those early days of long wooden skis and rudimentary lifts, but thankfully, not too much. Towering Bald Mountain and the rugged Sawtooth Range still dominate the horizon, and the night sky remains brilliantly star-studded. There is so little light pollution, in fact, that the area is part of the International Dark Sky Reserve. It is the 12th such reserve in the world and the third largest.
The 99-room Limelight Hotel in Ketchum epitomizes the outdoorsy, frontier atmosphere of the town. Sustainable, pet-friendly super casual but packed with amenities, the Limelight is an ideal meeting place for groups that want to get away from it all without roughing it. Or losing cell service.
“People usually fall in love with Sun Valley first for the skiing, but then they discover the hiking, river rafting, golf, mountain biking, shooting, fly-fishing, road biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, spa experiences and so much more,” says Bert Witsil, Limelight Hotel Ketchum senior sales manager. Flexible function rooms include space that can easily be configured for retreats, meetings and classrooms. Larger meeting rooms include the outdoor 4,900-square-foot Plaza, which can accommodate up to 450 people, and the 2,700-square-foot Living Room, which can accommodate nearly 300. Breakout and additional spaces are available for smaller groups. You’ll find high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property.
The Limelight is just five minutes from the pristine ski runs of Sun Valley Ski Resort, where skiers and snowboarders can experience more than 100 runs, 3,400 vertical feet and some 2,000 acres of terrain. Novices can learn or perfect their runs at the Dollar Mountain Progression Park.
Witsil reports that the Limelight Hotel recently hosted the North American Burn Society’s annual conference. The group’s agenda included both professional training and fun. After morning meetings, attendees headed to the mountains and skied or snowboarded until 3 p.m., then met again for a late afternoon/evening session.
As Witsil says, there is no shortage of outdoor activities all year long. Indoors around town you’ll find over a dozen art galleries, several live theater companies and free summer symphony concerts.
“Groups enjoy these activities, as well as organized team-building events,” says Witsil. “We also partner with various third-party team-building providers who can custom design itineraries for groups.”
History buffs should stop at the Sun Valley Museum of History to delve into the town’s historical journey from mining mecca to ski destination. Pick up a walking-tour brochure for a self-guided stroll packed full of the glimmer and grit of Ketchum’s past, with the charm and mountain-resort cool of its present. And fans of author Ernest Hemingway will quickly understand why the adrenaline- seeking writer made this his hometown. He arrived in 1939 and took up residence at a hotel where, when not hunting or fly-fishing, he completed “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Papa Hemingway was in and out of Ketchum for years and finally bought a house there before his death in 1961.
Connecting flights from Dallas and Houston are available or, alternatively, your group can fly nonstop to Boise and enjoy a scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive through the Bennett Hills and Camas Prairie, before heading into the mountains.