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2024-03-25 00:00:00 Avenue Magazine Is Jackson Hole the Next Must-Visit Ski Destination for the Chic Set?

Is Jackson Hole the Next Must-Visit Ski Destination for the Chic Set?

Your own private Wyoming
JAGGED EDGE Jackson Hole’s Teton mountain range attracts daredevil skiers from around the globe.
Photo by Chadwick Hildner

Skiers are a fanatic global tribe. They’re like members of an obsessive club searching the globe for fresh powder — and a hot social scene. There are the risk-taking adrenaline junkies who live to shred down double black diamond slopes; and then there are the wealthy jet-setters who prefer to meander down the mountain in Moncler puffers before racing to an après-ski spot to sip Moscow mules. The ski resort one chooses says everything about them. For example, stylish socialites descend upon Saint Moritz, Gstaad, and Courchevel in Europe. But true daredevil skiers and snowboarders swear by the death-defying jagged peaks of Jackson Hole in Wyoming. And Jackson’s coolest place to shack up is Caldera House, the luxury hotel/private members’ club in the heart of Teton Village, just steps away from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s iconic cherry-red tram cars.

Caldera House is not your average hotel. It feels like you’ve moved into your own private apartment. There are just four 1,500-square-foot two-bedroom suites and four 5,000-square-foot four-bedroom suites. Designed by LA-based Commune (who did Chicago’s Ace Hotel) and local studio CLB Architects (who also designed the actual building), the suites are loft-like with massive state-of-the-art chef’s kitchens, dining rooms, home theaters, snow-melting patios with Solus firepits, and bathrooms with tin tubs.

FIRE BY THE MOUNTAIN A firepit on a snow-melting patio at Caldera House in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Photo courtesy of Caldera House

It took six years and more than $100 million to bring Caldera House to life thanks to the vision of Wes Edens, a cofounder of Fortress Investment Group, the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, and a former ski racer. Along with three partners (Michael Novogratz, David Barry, and Randal Nardone), Edens oversaw everything. His one design directive: no antlers. The result is sleek and modern with a Scandinavian ski chalet-meets-rustic cabin feel. Think red subway tile in the bathroom (a nod to the ski trams), oak paneling, saddle leather headboards for a bit of way-out West flavor, and sturdy wood furniture that is so low slung you can’t help but chill out endlessly by the woodburning fireplace. Each suite’s iPad is fully loaded with music. Beyoncé’s country hit “Texas Hold ’Em” sets the mood as you unpack. The lobby, stocked with every kind of snack you can dream of (endless supply of gummy bears, anyone?) is ground zero for Jackson Hole’s elite — you might run into Gigi Hadid or pro skiers like Bode Miller, Tommy Moe, and Jimmy Chin, all of whom are regulars. For a yearly fee, you can join Caldera House’s Alpine Club, which includes perks like ski tuning and demos at the Mudroom (the shop run by expert skier Gov Carrington who has an encyclopedic knowledge of everyone and everything in Jackson Hole), a ski valet, and personal use of the high-tech locker rooms which are fully loaded with high-end bath products and rows of glass containers with candy and snacks.

Photo by Chadwick Hildner

Members can also use the gym and spa, hobnob in the common areas, and have preferred access to the three buzzy restaurants: the grab-and-go Southcable Café (which has the best pizza in town), Shin Shin, a streamlined sushi spot (order the bluefin tuna with osetra caviar and the octopus with kimchi puree), and Corsa, which always has a party atmosphere. With a deep, ox-blood painted ceiling, scalloped wood trimming, and a carved blonde wood Neapolitan pizza bar, Corsa feels more Cortina than Wyoming. The handmade pastas and trattoria-style Italian dishes are prepared to be shared and the dining room and copper-sided bar are packed every night of the week.

If you decide to leave Caldera House, have dinner at Snake River Grill, which has been around for three decades and serves the fanciest food in town like foie gras torchon with poached rhubarb, tangy lemon jam, and champagne sable; and a Wagyu flank steak from Snake River Farms, with confit potato and red chimichurri. Nearby, the down-home-style Mangy Moose is a Jackson classic—a loud, rowdy saloon-style joint with live music and the must-order Firebird — Southern fried chicken with tangy fire sauce, fried onions, slaw, and bread-and-butter pickles on a brioche bun. But if you ask any local where to go to avoid tourists, they will direct you to Teton Thai. Tucked away in the village at the base of the mountain, some say it is best Thai food in the country. Order every dumpling on the menu and do not miss the pad woon sen — glassy noodles with egg, cabbage, celery, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and bean sprouts swimming in a thick, sweet-and-spicy prik nam pla sauce made with dried spur chiles. It’s worth overeating because you can always ski off the calories the next day.

A dish and the bar at Corsa, Caldera House’s Italian restaurant
Photo courtesy of Caldera House

You might be tempted to never leave the rustic-chic coziness of Caldera House, but Jackson Hole is all about the mountain — and the snow. Beginners should beware: Jackson Hole is known for rugged terrain and seriously steep slopes, including the famed Corbet’s Couloir, a double black diamond trail known as one of the most challenging in America. If you’re not exactly Shaun White on a snowboard, the staff (all young, attractive locals) will book a lesson at the Mountain Sports School. It’s about the experience here and you can do everything from heli-skiing, snowmobiling, caribou sleigh rides, fat-tire biking, and a National Elk Refuge sleigh ride. In the warmer months, there is a Yellowstone wildlife safari, ATV rides, horseback riding, and a guided Grand Teton climb. There are also three resorts: Snow King Mountain (small but as steep as a rollercoaster drop) in Jackson, Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which is where most people flock.

Pro tip: book way in advance as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort limits the number of people allowed on the mountain each day. And grab the gondola early so you can experience Corbet’s Cabin, which serves waffles at an elevation of 10,450 feet, oxygen cans not included.

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