Sun Valley Tour de Force: Part 4 – The Hotels

Recently we had the privilege of participating in the Sun Valley Tour de Force, in Sun Valley, Idaho.  The SVTdF is a wonderful event which raises money for a great charity, The Hunger Coalition, and helps a large number of people in need.  The SVTdF is in its 6th year and is a three day event which runs Thursday – Saturday, capping off on Saturday with a “No Speed Limit”, closed road, runs followed by a gala dinner and charity auction that night.  We decided to take the three day event and turn it into a weeklong road trip in which we covered just over 2,000 miles in the McLaren 765LT Spider.  The following article is part IV of IV and covers the hotels.  Parts I & III are on the road trips and Part II is on Sun Valley Tour de Force.

By Karen (aka Mrs. SSO)

As AMEX Platinum Card holders, the first place we always go to search for hotels is the AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts website. The selection of hotel options are always 5*and their benefits are almost as valuable as the hotel rate.  The benefits include early check-in and late check out (a hugely valuable benefit when travelling, especially overseas); room upgrade (if available, they usually are), free WIFI, complimentary Breakfast for two ($75 – $100 value depending on the Hotel), $100 Hotel Credit for Food & Drinks or Parking and a welcome indulgence. So for our trip to Sun Valley’s Tour de Force, that’s exactly what we did for our travel to and from Sun Valley (Denver, where we shipped the car to and Park City where we overnighted to break up the drive to Sun Valley and upon return to Denver). Sun Valley Tour De Force had blocked rooms at the Limelight in Ketchum where the events were taking place, so we reserved with them at the discounted rate and their associated benefits.

Limelight Hotel – Denver

In Denver, among AMEX’s options, we chose the Limelight Hotel at Union Station in downtown Denver.  Our choice was driven by our needs: close to the Airport, close to the McLaren Dealer in Denver, and great shopping nearby.  The Limelight was a perfect choice: there was a free train that stopped directly in front of the Limelight (this was important as we had no suitcases on wheels just 2 very heavy duffle bags so they could fit in the frunk of the McLaren 765LT Spider), a quick Uber to the McLaren Dealer with a Luxury Goods shopping mall on route to drop me off at. The Hotel allowed us to park the McLaren directly in front of the hotel and we could put the cost against the Hotel Credit. The Limelight Hotel and rooms were very much in keeping with the Brand and the local environment.  Our upgrade was to Superior King.  There was a very warm and welcoming feel to the room. The bathroom had a separate WC (we have a pet peeve when it is not separated from the rest of the bathroom), an enclosed huge shower & separate bathtub.  The furniture not only looked in keeping with the hotel’s concept and location, but was also very comfortable. Every amenity you could think of was in the room, including a yoga mat, steamer and an excellent Nespresso Coffee machine with unlimited pods.  The room was very quiet despite other guests occupying rooms around us.

We had dinner at the Bar which served the same menu as their restaurant, Citizen’s Rail. They were very flexible and allowed us to eat in the more casual Bar and cancel our Restaurant reservation. We went during happy hour and enjoyed a delightful meal at no cost as the bill was covered by the balance of the room credit. Service was very attentive. Their Breakfast was excellent regardless of what you ordered, and the bill came in under the allowance.

On our return visit, we were upgraded to a one-bedroom suite.  It was also warm and welcoming. The furniture – different than the Suite, but very much in keeping with the Brand. There was a lovely bottle of red wine and a chacuterie board to welcome us. The front desk was happy to exchange the red wine for a bottle of Prosecco. We decided to order Room Service as it was getting late. It was super-fast and excellent, especially for room service.

Tip to the Limelight Hotel:  Clear the trays in the hallway during the night so they are not still there in the morning when your guests go down for breakfast.

The Limelight Denver gets a Karen 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 rating.

Pendry Hotel – Park City

We decided to stop in Park City, Utah to break up the trip to Sun Valley. Among AMEX hotel options, we chose the Pendry Hotel as it was not far off the Highway and yet in the Ski Resort. It was a very different experience to Denver’s Limelight Hotel.  Yes, they allowed us to park the McLaren at the front door (for $50) but advised against leaving it there (Yes in Park City at a 5* Hotel). We were upgraded to a one-bedroom suite which looked beautiful upon entering, albeit we are not big fans of the cool, grey interior.  We quickly discovered the toilet was in the middle of the bathroom, there was no bathtub, the furniture, while nice to look at but was incredibly uncomfortable.  That evening we realized the air conditioning vent was in the living room leaving us no choice but to leave the bedroom door open, even then, it was uncomfortable warm sleeping.

Dinner was ok but certainly not what I would expect from a 5* hotel.  While there were plenty of staff, the service was terrible. It was as if they had blinders on and getting dishes cleared was a undertaking.  Breakfast was no different.

Upon our return visit, we had a similar experience. They upgraded us to a Suite which was similar to the one-bedroom we stayed in with all the same comments. However, while the air conditioner was in the same room as the bed, the microwave oven had this bright white light that kept waking us up. We tried to cover it and unplug it, but to no avail. Needless to say, the Dinner and Breakfast were no better than our first night at the Pendry.

Tip #1 to the Pendry:  Stay overnight in each of your rooms to experience it as a guest would

Tip #2 to the Pendry:  Train your restaurant and bar staff how to serve.

The Pendry Park City gets a 🍾 🍾 rating

Limelight – Ketchum

The Limelight, Ketchum was an excellent choice by the Organizers of the Tour de Force. It was in the heart of the town and in between the Sun Valley Auto Club where various events took place and the Saw Tooth Mountains where the drives and No Speed Limit took place. The Hotel was very much on Brand and in keeping with the Ski Resort vibe.  While there was no upgrade, I do think we were in the highest class room at the hotel. The room was great:  there was a balcony with two large chairs and a coffee table to enjoy the view of the Mountains surrounding the hotel, a king size comfortable bed, a very functional table / desk with a cozy sofa and chair, kitchenette with a Nespresso coffee machine (and unlimited pods), separated toilet from the rest of the bathroom, and lots of space for a week’s worth of clothes for both of us.

The lobby is a very popular spot for hotel guests and local residents alike. It is multi-purpose bar, restaurant, and meeting place with a huge gas fireplace and lots of seating. However, its popularity is showing its wear and tear (the rooms themselves are great).

The Tour de Force hosted the first breakfast and the Hotel had an excellent complimentary buffet set up for the rest. There was the usual eggs, bacon, potatoes, toast, juices… but also excellent smoked salmon with all the trimmings and toasted bagels.

We did not have lunch or dinners at the hotel except the Tour de Force’s Gala Event on Saturday night.

Tip #1 to the Limelight, Ketchum:  Perhaps time to refurbish the ever so popular lobby which is looking a little tired from all the hotel guests and tons of locals that enjoy it year-round.

The Limelight Ketchum gets a 🍾 🍾 🍾 🍾 rating.

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August 2023


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