The Sun Valley Resort is building two employee dormitories that are slated to be completed by April of next year.
“It’s not just Sun Valley,” said Kelli Lusk, public relations and communications manager for the company. “Many of the mountain towns and resorts in the U.S. are having a housing issue. We’re taking steps to help solve that.”
In the Denver area, there are employee housing projects going on in Telluride, Aspen, and Vail, according to the Denver Post. Affordable employee housing has been cited as the primary concern of employers in the Sun Valley area. The same issue crops up at Brundage, in McCall.
Lusk said part of the problem is that short-term rental services such as VRBO and Airbnb are taking long-term rentals in resort communities off the market. “We’re seeing a decrease in available rentals,” she said. Airbnb lists 306 properties in the Sun Valley area. VRBO lists 722, all but 30 of which are more than $100 a night.
That is not likely to change. The 2017 Legislature passed a law that allows local and county governments to regulate, but not ban, short-term rentals; forbids counties and cities from regulating websites that advertise rentals; and forbids localities from imposing special additional taxes or fees only on STRs, though it also requires owners of short-term rentals to pay state sales and hotel taxes.
Some workers can’t do a typical one-year lease because they are temporary employees who come in only for the season and then leave, or because they are seasonal employees who do something different during the “shoulder seasons” before and after the most popular seasons, Lusk explained. Providing employee housing helps with worker retention.
Sun Valley typically has more than 1,200 people at work, depending on the season.
This spring, the resort will get started on two buildings, one with 116 units and the other with 60, for a total of 176. The dorms will include single, double, and triple rooms, which will ultimately house from 350 to 500 employees. Pricing will vary, with accommodation provided as part of employment in some cases, she said. The new dorms will include locker rooms and storage, workout facilities, laundry areas, lounge areas, food serving options, and outside recreation areas.
The company is going to tear down its existing dorms, including the Moritz building, which also houses some company offices. “Some of them are a little bit dated,” Lusk said.
Although no new net housing is being created because of the demolition of the old dorms, Harry Griffith, executive director of Sun Valley Economic Development, which serves Blaine County, said the new housing will help Sun Valley compete for workers.