Onward to Jackson Hole, WY winter wonderland! Jackson Hole with its rustic charm, embraced my heart, tantalized my taste buds and brought out the wildlife enthusiast in me! My husband Ben and I took a road trip from Big Sky, MT, thru Yellow Stone, into Idaho, then thru the breath-taking Teton Pass…ultimately ending at our destination, Jackson Hole. What a beautiful & adventurous 3 hour drive it was! Winter road conditions were present, though it was slow to go, the safe pace allowed us to really take our time and soak up the vast and mesmerizing landscape. In this post, I will introduce you to a new mountain luxury, “family owned” boutique hotel. Scrumptious local restaurants where “soul” is the common ingredient used. A journey to The National Elk Refuge & conservation, and lastly our experience down the steep and deep terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Whether you are looking for the authentic vibe of the historic western town or deep connection in Mother Nature…I hope this post will guide you to the amazing local places found off the beaten path of tourism.
Hotel Jackson: Located in the Heart of downtown Jackson Hole just steps from the famed antler arches on the Town Square. After browsing the internet for several days looking for a place for us to stay, I finally found the hidden gem! Hotel Jackson just opened its doors a little over a year ago, HJ is a local family owned and operated luxury boutique hotel. Cool fact: HJ is LEED certified. Upon checking in I was greeted by Sadek Darwiche, director of operations. Sadek spoke passionately about his family roots in Jackson and why his father Jim Darwiche purchased and opened their first business back in 1978 called Crazy Horse Indian Jewelry. I read a really good article on Jim Darwiche; planetjh.com … Jim is from Lebanon and first came to Jackson in 1977. The article states, “it was love at first sight” for Jim once arriving to Jackson. With Jim creating numerous successful business ventures in Jackson, the family had a vision of opening a boutique hotel offering modern amenities blending with western charm. Fast forward to 2015 the Darwiche family dream now became their reality. The attention to detail in Hotel Jackson does not go unnoticed, as you can feel the family’s intention in creating such a special place. Hotel Jackson guest are not only welcomed but embraced with the authentic passion and connection the Darwiche family has in Jackson. www.hoteljackson.com
“Touring his new country by way of Volkswagen bus, Jim Darwiche’s wanderlust brought him to Jackson Hole in 1977.” – www.planetjh.com
Hotel Jackson room: We stayed on the third floor and asked for a room with a balcony. Upon entering our room I instantly appreciated the modern décor with soft western elements of reclaimed wood walls. There is a minimalistic fireplace that adds ambiance and purposeful warmth. A small sitting area to cozy up and read a book or enjoy a glass of wine. The bed was heavenly. Linens were high thread count, mattress was on point in balance with firmness and softness. Loved the throw pillows that brought Jackson wildlife inside the space. There is a decent amount of storage, including drawers under the bed. A nice added amenity HJ offers is complimentary ski chalet that will hold all your ski and snowboard equipment, keeping the bulky and wet stuff warm and dry in their climate controlled storage room. www.hoteljackson.com
HJ Bathroom: Thoughtfully designed with functionality. There is a nice soaking bathtub and big glass shower. Great lighting also! HJ also offers one of my favorite apothecary brands; L’Occitane bath and body products.
HJ roof top hot tub: located on the third floor, with mountain views and hot water to sooth your achy muscles. Wonderful way to end the day while soaking up glow of the evening sunset cascading on the snowy mountain tops.
WHERE NATURE, YOUR SOUL, AND LUXURY CONNECT”- Hotel Jackson
HJ Library: an exquisite and cozy space to relax and find a good book to read! With a large gas fireplace and comfy lounge furniture to get lost in. The walls are adorned with native American artifacts, energy of the library is very zen and peaceful. This was a space that was unexpected yet so much appreciated. Well done HJ! www.hoteljackson.com
Figs Restaurant & Bar: Ben and I had our last dinner in Jackson at Figs, Hotel Jackson Restaurant…we both were so glad we did, the food is AMAZING. Cozy & modern ambiance unite together. The sound of the crackling wood burning fireplace enveloped the room. FIGS, a Mediterranean-inspired Wyoming fare restaurant using of the freshest local and regional ingredients. www.hoteljackson.com
Figs, The MEZZE PLATE: yum, yum, yum!!! We ordered the Mezze Plate- hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush and fresh, warm pitas made from scratch! I have a very dear friend in AZ, Micheline Etkin with Lebanese-Brazilian heritage. Micheline has introduced me to her rooted culinary creations… Figs reminds me of her delectable heartfelt dishes made with love. So if looking for authentic, fresh Mediterranean inspired food, Figs is a must to experience.
We also ordered Figs signature cocktail : LEBANESE LEMONADE – Grand Teton potato vodka, orange blossom, mint, lemonade, another must try! www.hoteljackson.com
Jackson Hole local restaurants: Ben and I really enjoyed the variety of quality local restaurants in Jackson: A small Thai restaurant located right behind HJ – A bakery that is sure to satiate anyone’s appetite and healthy high vibe eatery. Below is the “must visit” list for local food when in Jackson Hole:
1. Persephone Bakery: www.persephonebakery.com
2. Lotus Organic Café: www.theorganiclotus.com
3. Thai Plate: www.tetonthaiplate.com
4. D.O.G: A tiny hole in the wall place with awesome breakfast burritos! It’s a local fave, we went twice while staying in Jackson. Perfect meal on the go when heading to the mountain to ride. www.yelp.com/D.O.G
5. Coco LOVE: AMAZING Hot chocolate & artisan desserts. Located just accros the street from Hotel Jackson. A sweet indulgeance that needs to be savored! www.atelierortega.squarespace.com
National Elk Refuge: What an experience we had visiting the Elk Refuge! Ben had done some research the night before we went. We knew we were taking a day off from snowboarding and wanted to explore the land. Ben had read about sleigh rides thru the Refuge to get up close to the Elk herd, we both thought what an incredible way to witness these majestic creatures. We walked to the National Elk Refuge center from HJ, signed up for the sleigh ride that was to take place within the next hour. We toured the center, which provided in-depth information on all the animal species within the conservatory. A shuttle came to pick the group up to head out to the snowy pastures. It was a bitterly cold day, but we had prepared and bundled up with protective layers of Smartwool and snowboarding gear. It was a quick 10 min shuttle ride to the refuge where the sleigh rides awaited. It almost felt fairytalish seeing these beautiful statuesque horses in the wintry setting. Once we got on the sleigh, we were given thick, warm wool blankets to cover up. Our guide was wonderfully knowledgeable with the Elk herd, the wildlife, and his horses that took us on the winter journey thru the refuge. Highly recommend when visiting during the winter, sleigh rides run thru April. www.nationalelkrefuge.com
“THE NATIONAL ELK REFUGE WAS CREATED TO PROTECT HABITAT AND PROVIDE SANCTUARY FOR ONE OF THE LARGEST ELK HERD ON EARTH.”- EST. 1912 www.nationalelkrefuge.com
Inversion Yoga Studio: What’s a trip without hitting up a local yoga space? At least for us – it’s a must on our list. When traveling, it is so nice to be able to get grounded, make time for an inward journey and stretch out the body. Inversion yoga also is within walking distance of HJ. Great space with wonderful teachers! Inversion Yoga has a cute boutique shop where you can find some local bath salts, yoga attire, soulful books etc. www.inversionyoga.com
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Well this has been on our bucket list of places to snowboard! We have heard from friends and read numerous articles that this is where you go for steep and deep! With already over 400 inches of snow this winter season, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort gets socked in with the powdery white fluff! The terrain is steep and wildly adventurous…we loved it! They just added the new Sweetwater Gondola that takes you up to Casper’s Restaurant. Also, the Sweetwater now provides access to a new and enhanced children’s ski school facility. Fun for all ages and skill levels. www.jacksonhole.com
I look forward to returning to Jackson Hole in the summer and explore the Grand Teton National Park. If any of these journeys speak to your soul, I encourage you to listen, feel and go! Life is just waiting to be experienced…Enjoy your travels inward and Onword!
With love and gratitude,
Stacey Leigh Barnes