When my family and I were planning our most recent family vacation, we decided to point our compass west to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a charming mountain town that’s got something for everyone, including great skiing and easy access to some of the country’s most incredible national parks. The place to stay? The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole. Here’s why this is the ultimate hotel for adventurous families.
Set at the base of the mountain in Teton Village, you couldn’t ask for a better spot than the Four Seasons. Our room looked right out on the slopes, and 6-year-old Lucy loved watching the action, from the first skiers arriving in the morning to the Sno-Cats grooming the slopes at the end of the day. It was a quick ride in the elevator to the Basecamp on the ground floor of the hotel, where a team of ski concierges were standing by to help get us fitted with equipment. And these weren’t just any old skis: These were custom-designed Segos with the logo, “Born in the Tetons, Made for the Tetons.”
We’ve taken Lucy skiing a few times in the New York area, but she’s never experienced the joy of skiing out west. With annual snowfall of over 500 inches, you’re guaranteed excellent conditions in Jackson Hole. While I took private lessons with Shannon, an instructor with preternatural teaching abilities, we signed Lucy up at the Kid’s Ranch. Children were split into different groups, based on their age and ability. Over the course of two days, we watched Lucy’s confidence flourish, thanks to practically one-on-one lessons and a group of instructors who must have been child psychologists in another life. They knew exactly what to say to help kids overcome their fears. By the end of day two, Lucy was zooming over moguls, challenging me to races and didn’t want to get off the mountain.
There’s something about a ski vacation that brings a family together. Conquering a mountain. Sharing tales of your adventures by the fire pit. And what kid doesn’t love après-ski hot chocolate and s’mores? Only here, the cocoa was at another level entirely: house-made and served with sweet peppermint marshmallows. There were also free s’mores served next to the hotel’s year-round outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Lucy most definitely approved of that. After that, it’s time for dinner in the Handle Bar (named for the Instagram-worthy handlebar-shaped pretzels) or at Westbank Grill (a glamorous dining room with huge picture windows overlooking the slopes).
My daughter Lucy is a huge dog lover, so imagine her delight when she walked into the lobby at the Four Seasons and was greeted by Tillie, the resort’s lovable Bernese mountain dog, who joins kids for weekly storytime. (Tillie also even stars in her own book, Tillie of the Tetons, illustrated by a local artist.) Lucy loved cuddling up with Tillie, listening to stories from books provided by the Teton County Library and getting lost in worlds near and far.
One of the many wonderful things about Jackson Hole is its proximity to some of the country’s finest national parks. The town is located just 60 miles from the South Gate of Yellowstone, and a fun fact: The Jackson Hole airport is set right in Grand Teton National Park. One morning, we got up before sunrise and went out on a nature safari in Grand Teton National Park. As the sun rose over the craggy peaks of the Tetons, we spotted ravens and bald eagles, elk and bison. Trust me: There is nothing like seeing a massive moose cross the road right in front of your safari van to remind you that you’re very far from home.
“Jackson Hole’s dark skies and open spaces will change the way you see the stars,” says the resident astronomer, Ryan Hennessy, who leads stargazing tours for the Four Seasons. And he’s right. Thanks to Jackson Hole’s high elevation, the skies are clearer than at sea level. Add to that the crisp night skies of winter, and you’re sure to spot the Milky Way. You can choose between watching the stars from the grounds of the hotel or heading to Grand Teton National Park. We opted for the park. Hennessy took us to a secluded location surrounded by sagebrush and set up a winter picnic. With his massive telescope and a dazzling knowledge of the cosmos. Lucy’s head was spinning as he pointed out planets and stars, nebulae and galaxies.
Another advantage to staying at the Four Seasons Jackson Hole is its location right in Teton Village, which is home to excellent restaurants like Il Villaggio Osteria (the wood-oven pizza is not to be missed), Piste Mountain Bistro (located at the top of of Bridger Gondola) and Teton Thai (amazing Asian food). Just 20 minutes away is Jackson, with its Wild West storefronts, galleries, jewelry shops and more. One spot that’s not to be missed is the Jackson Hole Toy Store & Shooting Gallery, which has a clever shooting range with 40 targets hidden around the store. And whatever you do, you must visit George Washington Memorial Park, also known as the town square, for a family photo under one of the historic elk antler arches, which are as iconic as the surrounding Tetons.
By Laura Begley Bloom