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National park tips: This desert is getting a lot of love

At Idaho's Sun Valley Lodge, everything old is new again, except the exterior, which is still old

Idaho’s Sun Valley, one of America’s oldest ski resorts, is welcoming summer visitors to its newly remodeled inn.

If you’ve been there before, you may not recognize the rooms at the resort’s Sun Valley Lodge, which welcomed its first guests in 1936. The rooms are bigger but there are fewer or them, down to 94 from 148.

New features include soaking tubs and walk-in showers. Sixty-five rooms have focal-point fireplaces.

Guests can choose one of the lodge’s six Celebrity Suites, each named for a famous person who became a familiar face at the resort through the decades. They include actors Clint Eastwood and Marilyn Monroe and author Ernest Hemingway.

The resort opened its new Sun Valley Spa in mid-June. Various wellness treatments are offered in 15 rooms overlooking Bald Mountain. Amenities include a year-round, heated saline pool and a yoga studio

The property’s swimming pool area, adjacent to the spa, also has been revamped. It now offers a larger deck, a Jacuzzi and a fire pit.

Only the lodge’s exterior remains the same as it was in the 1930s.

Sun Valley was the brainchild of businessman and statesman W. Averill Harriman, who sent Count Felix Schnoffgotsch of Austria to comb the Western United States for the ideal location for a world-class ski resort.

The count found such a site near the mining town of Ketchum, Idaho.

“This combines more delightful features than any place I have ever seen in Switzerland, Austria or the U.S. for a winter resort,” he told his employer in a wire.

Now it’s a four-season destination. Summer rates begin at $329 a night. Summer activities in the area include fly fishing, hiking and mountain biking.

Info: (800) 786-8259.

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