My children’s desire to see snow has featured prominently on their Christmas wish lists for several years. I have tried valiantly to make this happen for them since it seems easier and less expensive than getting a puppy (#1 on those lists). Confined by school vacation parameters, we've visited Montreal, Quebec, New York and Washington DC for Spring Break – no luck! It’s been bitterly cold on those trips but none of the white, fluffy stuff. This year, I was determined to achieve the goal –seemed reasonable enough, there’s been a LOT of snow in North America these past few months. In February, there was snow on the ground in part of every state EXCEPT Florida (there was snow at the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii). So where could I take the children to live out their most ideal snow fantasies including learning to ski and sled, making snow angels and snow people, having snowball fights and sipping hot chocolate in heated pools surrounded by winter’s “confetti”? Jackson Hole, Wyoming!
I chose a resort because it offers the most convenience as far as arranging logistics – space to play, comfortable accommodations, and close proximity to all of the activities required for the perfect first-snow-experience.
There are two Virtuoso properties in the state of Wyoming – Four Seasons Jackson Hole and AMANGANI. We stayed at both since they are quite different to experience yet only only 20 minutes drive apart.
Four Seasons Jackson Hole is the perfect place to spend a snow vacation with your family. The Resort was teeming with excited children of all ages. Standard rooms are large with fireplaces and most have balconies or terraces. A huge walk-in closet offered not just hanging room, but shelves and hooks to store damp gear, and shoe brushes to clean boots. The Hotel is located in the center of Teton Village and has ski-in/ski-out access. The restaurants, particularly The Handle Bar, are popular dining options for those coming off the slopes with an appetite. Just park your boards and skis at the door and step right in! Buffet breakfast cost $35 per person in the Westbank Grill but if you book through a Four Seasons Preferred Partner, you get it free for two people daily in addition to a $100 Food and Beverage credit. These are tremendous complimentary values.
My children thoroughly enjoyed whole days in Ski School at the Kids Ranch just a few minutes walk from the Hotel. Also popular après-ski was the patio area where complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate could be consumed while intermittently deviating between the toasty waters of the pool and three whirlpools. I was really impressed by the heated lockers poolside in which diligent Attendants stored towels, robes and slippers for the swimmers. Nice touch, Four Seasons!
The Kids Club is not supervised but is housed in a room containing a foosball table, a pool table and computer games and consoles. Upon check-in, the children were given a fun scavenger hunt sheet to complete throughout the hotel. Once done, they were rewarded with chocolates – foolproof and immediate customer loyalty from the kids.
We signed on for a Wildlife Art and Sleigh Ride Trip organized by the Four Seasons and hosted by in-house Biologist ,Tenley Thompson. More about this later - it was so great, it deserves separate attention.
Teton Village is about 25 minutes away from the Town of Jackson and sits at the base of the mountain. There are Hotels, Restaurants, Bars, Stores and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Everything you might need for a few days is located within the Village but we wanted to explore Jackson as well. Taxis are costly and required a 20-minute pre-booking from the Hotel but there is also a convenient bus service that runs frequently into town and costs only $3 per adult and $1.50 per child each way (have the exact cash because the bus drivers don’t make change).
We took a gondola ride from just outside the doors of the Four Seasons up 3,000 feet to the restaurants at the Deck. The view was mesmerizing as were the paragliders.
AMANGANI was the first AMAN Resort in North America. Now, the AMAN portfolio also includes AMANGIRI in Utah. I did pause briefly to question the wisdom of taking two 10-year olds to an exclusive 29-suite Hotel whose name translates to “peaceful home”. As it turned out, there were other families there with children younger than mine and we all survived splendidly.
Upon arrival at AMANGANI, we were greeted warmly by Chandler, a Guest Manager, who gave us a full tour of the property before showing us to our room. Moments later, a Server appeared with cups of hot, spiced apple tea as a welcome amenity. The Hotel is perched high in the mountains, about 7,000 feet above sea level. It is very chic and very quiet with high ceilings and open spaces.
AMANGANI has one formal restaurant but meals can be served in-room or more casually in an adjoining lounge. The focal point of the Hotel is the pool deck offering unparalleled views of the Tetons and the Valley below. There is a Spa on the lower levels and a lovely, well-stocked library with board games and complimentary computer stations for guests.
The suites are modern and open with magnificent bathrooms and lots of storage space. At turn down, we were pleasantly surprised to find a humidifier installed in the bedroom and gift boxes containing beautiful, wooden, hand-carved bison and a bear.
During our stay, a seemingly resident moose the staff called “Lucy” roamed the property and charmed the children.
AMANGANI does not have ski-in/ski-out access but offers a complimentary shuttle service to its private lounge in Teton Village. The Resort also offers guests a free ride to the Airport in one of its BMW Sport Utility vehicles. If that’s not an impressive send-off, Jackson Hole’s airport is located in the Grand Teton National Park. The views guarantee that you’ll be happy to arrive and sad to leave although my children are plotting a return next year!