By Georgette Diamandis:
Driving from Yellowstone National Park past the Grand Tetons and on into the town of Jackson is like being in a National Geographic film. We passed thousands of elk in the Elk Refuge and eventually hit the small town, full of cowboy bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries. We then drove another half hour past open valleys and meadows with horses to the hip ski town of Teton Village. The village reminded me of Zermatt, Switzerland—quaint and right at the base of a magnificent mountain, in this case the Jackson Hole ski resort.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
The Jackson Hole ski resort is known for brilliant blue sky, moderate temperatures, and loads of fresh powder. The tram takes skiers and riders to the summit and is not recommended for anyone who is not an expert. I rode the gondola, which accesses terrain for all levels, and took a lesson from Mike, a Jackson native (viaNew Jersey). Skiing at Jackson Hole is so amazing because one run can take 30 minutes, and the lines are not long because of its remote location, making it feel like a private resort.
Nightlife is also what Jackson Hole is all about. The night I was there, a snowboarding event was going on in downtown Jackson, with music provided by none other than Justin Timberlake. I chose to hang out in “downtown” Teton Village and take in a Celtic band at the Mangy Moose with my other fortysomething friends. We were so excited to be “stamped” as we entered. The lead violinist had red curly hair, wore a kilt, and played with frenetic energy. There was another beautiful female violinist and several guys that looked like Russell Crowe. The entire bar was into it, with many dancing in front of the band or at their tables.
Jackson Hole is also known for its fine dining. We took the gondola to the top to have dinner at a restaurant in the same building as the ski lodge. Couloir is definitely not a ski lodge! The cozy restaurant has a bar with cow skin-covered stools, dark wood paneling, and bottles lined up to the tall ceiling. The bartender is almost an act in himself as he grabs the stool to climb up the wall and fetch bottles. The restaurant has a four-course meal for $85, with emphasis on local and organic cuisine. I had grilled Haloumi cheese on a bed of arugula salad, a cappuccino-style cup of pea sprout soup, and house-smoked buffalo with Madeira wine glaze. Dessert was a trio of small treats. The waitstaff are good-looking skiers and super professional while serving up Western hospitality. The atmosphere was buzzing; because the place is not very large, advance reservations are recommended. Taking the gondola after dining? No problem, the fashionable lift operators will place a warm blanket on you. It’s a nice night out!
Four Seasons in Teton Village has special prix-fixe menus. There are also world-renowned boutique restaurants back in the cowboy town of Jackson.
My hotel stay was part of a “green” trip that began at Yellowstone National Park. The Hotel Terra is my kind of hotel, combining luxury with environmental awareness; from their design to their practices. The atmosphere is cool chic, and not only in the decor. The Hotel Terra addresses the issue of global warming right down to the recycled products used in constructing the building. Reclaimed wood and recycled tires are used for flooring. The hotel uses chemical-free cleaning products and also refillable large containers for bath products. Energy-efficient policies, such as having to use a key to turn on power, saves energy by not allowing lights to be left on by unaware guests.
The room is intimate with everything you need: large windows with expansive views, super-comfortable king-size bed with organic sheets and down pillows, coffee set-up (becoming rare these days) with organic coffee, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a large flat-screen TV. There are specials with room rates starting at $159. The large hot tub on the roof is on a natural slate patio and has an expansive view of the mountains. I still reminisce about being there at sunset! There is a small infinity pool, and a killer spa where you can chill out. I sampled a 60-minute aromatic massage, which was wonderfully relaxing.
Restaurants at the Hotel Terra
The ground floor in-house restaurant Il Villagio Osteria is a great reason not to leave the hotel at all! The food is superb and there are 150 wines on their menu. The pasta dishes rule, as well as the local meats and wood-fired pizzas. The Café Terra is located on the ground floor as well, and is visited by locals for their awesome breakfasts, smoothies, and dark organic coffees.
If you are on a budget, The Hostel in Teton Village will provide a clean bunk in a shared room for $35 a night. Included are a friendly youthful atmosphere and a welcoming golden retriever. Private rooms start at $70. Also, the Start Bus is an easy, inexpensive, and efficient way to get into town or to the alternate parking area for day skiers.
For me, the Jackson Hole area is a remarkable place to visit for active adventure seekers, in winter or summer. The quaint TetonVillage has everything anyone would want in a vacation, whether alone, as a couple, or as a family. The Hotel Terra’s friendly and stylish ambiance is the icing on the cake.
NOTE: This trip was sponsored by Buffalo Bill’s Cody/Yellowstone Country.
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