Josh’s Trip Report | Jackson Hole and Yellowstone

This post contains reviews of Amangani and Hotel Terra, in Jackson Hole, WY.  We also visited West Yellowstone, MT.*

My partner John and I spent 6 days this summer exploring both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks.  We’ve found this is the perfect length vacation for a close by destination, and the nonstop flight from San Francisco to Idaho Falls took only 2 hours. That was  followed by another two hours of empty highway to either Jackson, WY or West Yellowstone, MT. We made a circle (Idaho Falls > Jackson > W. Yellowstone > Idaho Falls) and it was a good idea.

West Yellowstone, MT

West Yellowstone, MT

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

 

When visiting Grand Teton the only places to stay are located in these areas:  1) in downtown Jackson, 2) just outside of downtown on a bluff (butte) overlooking the Hole (as the valley is called) or 3) in Teton Village. Downtown to Teton Village is about 12 miles, and in the summer the drive is about 15 minutes between them.  The bluff is in between, but much closer to downtown.

In downtown Jackson there are plenty of restaurants (mostly unmemorable except for Trio which was great), t-shirt shops, and a few nice stores. It’s cute. Very Western so you really feel like you’ve arrived in the Great American West. Kudos to the big neon marquis in town, belonging to the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar…. from what I could tell (I peeked) a Harley hangout.   The mountain here is small but steep and is apparently where some Olympic teams practice. No great hotels in the area.

My clients would typically stay in Teton Village where there are several better hotels, including the Four Seasons* (the biggest, newest and poshest), or the older and well established Snake River Lodge,* or Alpenhof. Then there are several 4 star hotels, including Hotel Terra where we stayed. The same owners also have the more traditional Inn at Jackson Hole next door. The village is small and walkable from one end to the other in 5 (summer) minutes.  But it’s absolutely nothing like Vail which has a million high-end shops and nice restaurants.  This place is basic and I would assume for serious skiers. There is almost no shopping, although there are some decent places to eat, and there’s always the very fun Mangy Moose where you can grab a beer, a lousy pizza and listen to live music.  I had a buffalo burger there, too, but in the annex – a bit removed from the fun.  Brought me back to my college days at UCSD in the late 70s.

Hotel Terra has great condo type accommodations, modern and spacious, with views of the village or surroundings. The Front Desk staff was very friendly and unpretentious — just what you’d expect to find at a ski resort. Il Villaggio Osteria is a highly rated restaurant Italian restaurant in the lobby which we unfortunately missed out on.

Amangani and Spring Creek Ranch | Jackson, WY

Or one could stay, as we did for two nights, at Amangani, or next door at Spring Creek, and although I didn’t tour Spring Creek extensively it’s worth a mention as I might stay there next time.

Both resorts are about 5 minutes west of town on the way to Teton Village. You take a 2 lane road up to the top of a butte, with an outrageous view of the valley and, if situated correctly, the spectacular Grand Tetons.  Spring Creek was built first and has by far the better views.  Amangani has 3 rooms/suites with The View, but the others have a very nice valley view.  In summer, Spring Creek starts at $350 and Amangani at $975. That’s with no meals, although Josh Friedman Luxury Travel offers a complimentary breakfast at Amangani.

Being a travel advisor specializing in 5 star hotels and resorts, I’ve stayed in a lot of them. In Italy, which is very expensive, most don’t cost at minimum $975, nor do they have the name Aman, which I’ve always associated with being the ultimate in over the top luxury and service. So my expectation was quite high based on price and reputation.

The place is stunning. Quiet. Great Views. Rustic. Classic modern. Uber chic. Most of the staff were very helpful. But the overall sense of  ‘welcome’ isn’t found here.  The service is cold, like the black uniforms you’d expect to find at a hotel in SoHo, not in Wyoming. Coffee is available in your room but if you’d prefer tea, it’s available via room service. An offer of a restaurant pick up in the hotel’s BMW X5 because of  delays to our tour due of construction in front of the hotel results in a charge to our room bill.

I would have been somewhat OK with Amangani at half the regular price. To me, a hotel has to offer a complete sensory experience — from the room to dining to service to hospitality. One without the other does not work — ever.  [Take the Four Seasons Maui as the perfect embodiment of my philosophy].

* There are no hotels in W. Yellowstone worth reviewing, but the Three Bear Lodge has a good diner and the most history, from what I learned. Take a walking tour of W. Yellowstone.

josh friedman luxury travel
in san francisco’s financial district
415.987.0372 | joshfriedmantravel.com
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Josh Friedman is a travel agent specializing in luxury travel for small groups and individuals – particularly ultra-luxury cruises, customized vacations and food & wine inspired journeys.  Based in San Francisco, and with clients throughout the USA, his business is focused on 24/7 personalized service to the sophisticated leisure and business traveler.  His personal  relationships with the world’s top hotels, cruise lines and local agencies often allows for exclusive amenities and VIP status. 

 If you’d like to learn more about luxury travel and our services, please contact Josh Friedman Luxury Travel in San Francisco’s Financial District via phone at 415.987.0372  or email: josh [at] joshfriedmantravel [dot] com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, too.

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