Settled by pioneers long before anyone thought of strapping on skis and sliding down Rendezvous Peak, this region of the Rocky Mountains, 60 miles south of Yellowstone National Park, has always been an easy place to disappear in. Davey Jackson gave the low-lying valley surrounded by jagged peaks (hence "Hole") its name back in 1829, when he left fast-paced Missouri to lead the nomadic life of a fur trapper. Behind him came homesteaders and ranchers enticed by the majestic silhouette of the Grand Tetons and wide-open swaths of land where they could be as anonymous as the migrating elk that pass through each year.
The town of Jackson continues to draw cowboys and adventurers seeking to reinvent themselves; these days it also beckons high-wattage luminaries hoping to blend into the scenery. Harrison Ford lives quietly on his ranch, Vice President Dick Cheney vacations often in his house here, and nobody looks twice when Sting, Sandra Bullock, or Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston whiz down Dick's Ditch on snowboards. Unlike aggressively chic ski resorts such as Aspen, people here are more concerned with how you ski than who you are. The 2,500-acre Jackson Hole Mountain Resort—known for its adrenaline-producing expert terrain—is just 10 miles down the road. You'll rarely encounter lift lines, nor will you find fur coats on anyone but the wildlife: sophisticated Jackson may have luxury resorts and world-class restaurants, but you can wear jeans and cowboy boots at any of them.
Where to Stay
Amangani The sole U.S. outpost of the Amanresorts chain is built into a hillside; its minimalist design extends from the high-ceilinged lounge to the 40 suites, which have redwood platform beds, stone fireplaces, and deep soaking tubs that look out toward the Snake River Mountain Range. The knowledgeable staff can arrange ski rentals, set up lessons, or even provide a guide to take you shopping in town. 1535 N.E. Butte Rd., Jackson; 877/734-7333 or 307/734-7333; www.amangani.com; suites from $700.
Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa The 31 rooms are outfitted with locally made lodgepole pine furniture and dreamy down duvets (half also have wood-burning fireplaces). The most enticing room: No. 309, with a fireplace that straddles the bath and bedroom so you can unwind fireside in the oversized tub. 175 N. Jackson St., Jackson; 800/458-2004 or 307/733-2000; www.rustyparrot.com; doubles from $264.
Teton Mountain Lodge If you plan to spend most of your vacation on the slopes, why not stay within skiing distance of them?From a room at Teton Mountain Lodge—with amenities like whirlpool tubs, gas fireplaces, and well-stocked kitchens—you can roll out of bed, board a tram, and be at the summit in a few minutes. 3385 W. Village Dr., Teton Village; 800/801-6615 or 307/734-7111; www.tetonlodge.com; doubles from $265.
Snake River Lodge & Spa Eighty-eight rooms and 44 condos (with kitchens, living rooms, fireplaces, and balconies), right at the base of the ski mountain. The complex also features a five-floor, 17,000-square-foot Avanyu Spa. 7710 Granite Loop Rd., Teton Village; 800/445-4655 or 307/732-6000; www.snakeriverlodge.com; doubles from $275, condos from $325, including breakfast.
Wort Hotel Jackson's oldest luxury hotel has been in business since the Wort brothers opened it in 1941. Located just a block from the Town Square, the 60-room property exudes a slightly faded elegance that borders on the romantic. Its SilverDollar Bar & Grill has the best breakfasts in town, and the most rollicking party on the weekends. 50 N. Glenwood St., Jackson; 800/322-2727 or 307/733-2190; www.worthotel.com; doubles from $190, including breakfast.
Bentwood Inn Bill and Nell Fay treat guests in their house like family. Après-ski, everyone gathers around the 30-foot-high river-rock fireplace for wine and snacks. Teton Village Rd., Jackson; 307/739-1411; www.bentwoodinn.com; doubles from $215, including breakfast and evening cocktails.
Alpine House BEST VALUE Owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone are both former Olympians (Nordic combined and biathlon, respectively). Hans is also an expert leader for Jackson-based Exum Mountain Guides. Over a skier's breakfast of whole-wheat cinnamon crêpes with maple-roasted apples, or eggs Benedict with house-smoked trout, he'll help you plan an ascent of a nearby peak. 285 N. Glenwood St., Jackson; 800/753-1421 or 307/739-1570; www.alpinehouse.com; doubles from $110, including breakfast.