|Jackson Square (Credit: Edwin C. Fancher)
"Spring Creek Ranch is a view
with a room rather than the other way around," said Lisa Price, co-owner along
with her husband, Stephen, of the management company that operates the ranch.
A group of us were seated around a large table in the Granary, the property’s
restaurant, at a dinner being hosted by Stephen. We were oohing and aahing at
the mountainous vista across the valley from east of the Snake River
on the crest of East Gros Ventre where Spring Creek sits. As we dined
on what one publication called "up-scale mountain man cooking"--American cuisine
at its finest, such as elk tenderloin and Colorado lamb--we also remarked on the
excellence of the kitchen.
We were crowing about our accommodations, too. You can stay at one of the inn rooms or rent a one, two or three bedroom condominium, the kind of house that "Architectural Digest" might photograph as the quintessential home on the range. Constructed of native rough-sawn timbers, the buildings have huge windows. Hand-made pine furniture, large stone fireplaces, as well as regional artifacts, many of them antique like bridles, hand-cranked clothes ringers and elk-horn chandeliers give the interiors an exact sense of place.
The thousand-acre property includes a stable with horses so that guest "cowpokes" led by staff wranglers can ride western-style through the countryside and spot wildflowers and wildlife.
Jackson Hole had long been known as an area for advanced skiers, daring men who sought the most challenging and difficult slopes and who refueled on mountain man food. A $60,000,000 investment a few years back changed all that. Now the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort located in Teton Village and 11 miles outside of Jackson on the west side of the Snake River is family-friendly and attracts beginners and intermediates. New trails have been opened, lifts were improved and a gondola was added to upgrade the condition of the two mountains, Après Vous and Rendezvous. www.jacksonhole.com
More rooms and restaurants were needed
to accommodate the influx of skiers. And so the building began--quality restaurants,
a well-received Kid’s Ranch Day Camp, an aerial tram, superior lodgings
including a soon to be opened Four Seasons, the parent company’s first
mountain project. Culture came, too--summer concerts at Walk Hall, a bluegrass
festival, Native American arts exhibitions and dance performances and the Teton
Village Art Show.
In the warmer months you can also
mountain bike, scale the Mountain Dew Climbing Wall, fish in Crystal Spring
Pond, paraglide, go river rafting, kayaking and canoeing, see a rodeo and
attend the Mangy Moose Antique Show, a Micro Brew event and a vintage car auction.
|Teton National Park (Credit: Edwin C. Fancher)
During our extended weekend stay in Jackson Hole, we played musical beds starting at the Teton Mountain Lodge adjacent to the lifts. The architecture reminds you of the sets in the old TV series "Ponderosa," a style that is often referred to as "national park." The Lodge is presently the only condo-hotel in the valley. Its rooms and one, two and three-bedroom suites are similarly furnished and have custom fittings such as specially crafted door handles. The 80 condo units, which become rentals when the owners are not occupying them, have full kitchens.
Amenities include a very complete fitness center, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs.
The Cascade Grill House and Spirits serves new Western food, big city quality with a local flavor. The breakfast buffet offers more choices than you could possibly eat even if you are heading off to a strenuous day of activity. Since Teton Mountain Lodge is a ski-in, ski-out hotel, its restaurant is an excellent choice for lunch after a morning on the slopes. The main dish salads are jumbo-sized, the buffalo burgers were the best we ate and the smoked bison carpaccio was not available on any other menu we saw.
Snake River Lodge and Spa, one of ten properties in the RockResorts group, has the most luxurious spa, Avaynu, in the village. With 17,000 square feet it can almost compete with some stand-alone health facilities. Adjacent to the building are a heated indoor/outdoor pool and free-form hot tubs surrounded by cascading waterfalls. The vichy shower with seven heads is a popular treatment.
A very fine dining room on the premises, GameFish, specializes, of course, in game and fish. Nightly choices include buffalo, elk, pheasant, smoked trout and fresh fish.
On our way to the town of Jackson
we stopped for breakfast at Amangani, the only Aman resort in the United
States. If you are familiar with the chain you know that they are super-opulent
and host a spare number of guests. The Paris-based architect, Ed Tuttle, who
has designed many of the outposts, has an unmistakable style. He uses native
materials and draws from the designs in the regions where he builds. The signature
Aman look is one of sprawling spaces. The bath and dressing rooms in the accommodations
are the same size as the sleeping areas.
|Hidden Falls (Credit: Edwin C. Fancher)
Jackson, population 5,000, is a touristy
"wild west" town with wooden sidewalks on the streets that surround the square.
Shopping is the main activity here. Native American arts and jewelry are heavily
featured as are galleries displaying paintings, drawings and water colors of
cowboys and landscapes. Cowboy hats, boots and belts are big sellers, too. At
the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar the wait for bison burgers or hamburgers
is a long one, but well worth it to sit in one of the saddles that are used
as bar stools. www.milliondollarcowboybar.com
Rusty Parrot Lodge, walking distance from the square, is decorated in cowboy-style with Native American rugs and one-of-a-kind handcrafted furniture. Each of the 31 rooms has a stone fireplace. The Body Sage on-site spa offers about 20 different treatments. The Wild Sage Restaurant like all the other places we ate at during out visit fed us very well. It is exciting to watch the chefs cook in the open kitchen, particularly when they prepare the dishes you ordered. Service in this lovely establishment is exemplary. No wonder they received a Triple A 4-Diamond rating, appeared on "Conde Nast Traveler" 2003 Gold List and were cited by "Ski" magazine as one of the "Ten Best Small Hotels."
Moose Visitor Center at an
entrance to Grand Teton National
Park is just a few miles from Teton Village. After a short
drive into the park you arrive at Jenny
Lake Visitor Center, a trail head and boat dock for a small
shuttle boat that carries visitors across Jenny Lake to Inspiration
Point. From here, depending on your determination and will,
you can hike for miles on mountainous or relatively flat terrain.
Our group took an easy half-mile walk on the trail leading to a
stream into which the water of Hidden
Falls flows hundreds of feet. Like all national parks wild
life is abundant here. We sighted two moose cooling themselves in
a pond a stone's throw from the road. www.grand.teton.national-park.com
Amangani, 1535 North East Butte Road, Jackson Hole, WY 83001. Tel. 307-734-7333, fax 1-307-734-7332. Forty accommodations range from $700-1100. www.amangani.com
The Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa, 175 N. Jackson St., Jackson, WY 83001. Tel. 307-733-2000, fax 1-307-733-5566. Thirty-one rooms, $145-500. www.rustyparrot.com
Snake River Lodge and Spa, 7710 Granite Loop Road, Teton Village, WY 83025. Tel. 307-732-6000, fax 307-732-6009. Eighty-eight rooms, 40 luxury suites, $300-1500. www.snakeriverlodge.rockresorts.com
Spring Creek Ranch, Box 4780 Jackson, 1800 Spirit Dance Road, Jackson, WY 83001. Tel. 307-733-8833, fax 307-733-1524. Thirty-six guest rooms, 25 studios, 26 suites, 31 condominiums, 8 luxury executive homes. $150-2000 depending on season. www.springcreekranch.com
Teton Mountain Lodge, 3385 West Village Drive, Teton Village,
WY 83025. Tel. 307-734-7111, fax 307-734-7999. Eighty condominium
suites, ranging from 465 to 2300 square feet. $165-650 depending
on season. www.tetonlodge.com