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Romantic Ski Hotels Under $200

Everett Potter’s Travel Report, February 2010

The best deals on romance at Jackson Hole are not slope side but in town at Alpine House, a luxurious bed & breakfast located two blocks from Jackson’s town square. The look of the 22-room Alpine House is Scandinavian pine and exposed beams. You will find down comforters, plush robes and individual fireplaces or white porcelain wood stoves. You’ll also find a library, a spa room, a Finnish sauna and an outdoor hot tub. Morning brings what may be the world’s best banana pecan pancakes and conversation with owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone, both former Olympians. You’re withing walking distance of the best shops and restaurants, a 20 minute shuttle bus ride from the resort. Doubles from $135.

Everett Potter's Travel Report

Affordable Skiing

New York Times, December 2009

Winter is actually the off-season in Jackson Hole – hard to believe when you consider the insane powder dumps and the 4,139 vertical feet of terrain that expert skiers come to conquer year after year. But the happy result for winter visitors is a glut of moderately priced hotels in the town of Jackson, 12 miles from the mountain. Add airfare sales and the ski-and-stay deals in the base area’s Teton Village, and a trip to Jackson Hole can be more than worthwhile.

HOW TO GET THERE The most expensive part about a Jackson Hole vacation is often the flight, so if you can get cheap airfare, the rest is a breeze. You’ll have the best luck if you’re flexible, patient or both – that is, willing to fly in the early morning and make at least one stop. A recent Web search turned up fares starting at $220 on Delta for flights from New York in January, usually connecting through Salt Lake City. Most flights with less onerous conditions cost more than $300. This year, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City all have direct air access and increased routes. Check Jackson Hole’s Web site (www.jacksonhole.com) for specials.

To get to the resort from Jackson Hole Airport, Alltrans (800-443-6133; www.jacksonholealltrans.com) offers regular shuttle service for $26 each way. If you’re staying in the town of Jackson, you’ll want to rent a car.

WHERE TO STAY Good deals are offered by just about every hotel in Teton Village, where mountain access is easiest and the schlep minimal. But those who want to spend less on lodging may want to stay in Jackson itself – though you’ll have to drive to the slopes, prices tend to be lower and there are more colorful shops, restaurants, galleries and bars.

At the base of the mountain is the LEED-certified Hotel Terra (3335 West Village Drive, Teton Village; 800-631-6281; www.hotelterrajacksonhole.com). Rooms have gas fireplaces, low-flow water fixtures and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has a rooftop hot tub, spa and a new heated infinity pool. Though room rates start at $229, deals offered through its Web site can bring the price down significantly. Recent deals include the Ski Green package, which includes the room, lift tickets and breakfast for $212 a night, based on double occupancy (four-night minimum).

In Jackson, Alpine House (285 North Glenwood Street; 307-739-1570; www.alpinehouse.com) is an upscale 22-room B & B that starts at $135 a night, including an organic breakfast buffet. It’s just a few blocks from the historic town square and the popular Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

Even the town’s Quality 49er Inn and Suites (330 West Pearl Street, Jackson; 307-733-7550; www.qualityinn.com) has a mountain-themed feel, with leather armchairs and gas fireplaces, from $66 a night.

LIFT TICKETS One-day passes are a budget-busting $91 after Dec. 19, so look for packages that ease the pain. The resort offers a Ski Free package that combines lift tickets and ski-in, ski-out lodging for $81 a person each day in a one-bedroom unit. The rate is based on four-person occupancy and there is a five-night minimum; valid all year excluding Dec. 19 to Jan. 3. American Airlines is also partnering with the resort for a family promotion: children 12 and under fly, ski and stay free until Feb. 12.

WHERE TO EAT In Jackson, Down on Glen (25 South Glenwood; 307-733-4422) is the place for on-the-go gut bombs that fuel you up for the day. A spicy meat breakfast burritos is $5.

Rendezvous, a high-end cafeteria at the top of the gondola, offers one of the best on-mountain lunches for the money: a big Idaho salt-baked potato, stacked with as many toppings as you want, for $8.75. The restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows and a south-facing deck; bring a trail map and get a 10 percent discount.

At Q Roadhouse (2550 Moose Wilson Road; 307-739-0700; www.qjacksonhole.com), four miles from Teton Village on the way into town, you’ll find rib-sticking comfort food like hearty gumbo for $12. Two happy hours, 5 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 9 p.m., offer two-for-one drinks.

APRÈS SKI Shades of the Wild West dominate the decor of most bars here, with no shortage of antlers and mounted animal heads. The western saloon-style Mangy Moose (3295 Village Drive, Teton Village; 307-733-4913; www.mangymoose.net) is a can’t-miss scene: an energetic mix of visitors and locals, with good live music and local beers on tap ($12 pitchers).

For a laid-back local establishment, check out the Village Cafe (420 Village Center, Teton Village; 307-732-2233), a small bar in the basement of the Wildernest Sports building that has great pizza by the slice (from $3.25) and cheap cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($3).

WHERE TO SHOP There’s a void in Teton Village when it comes to grocery stores; it’s best to head to town if you want to stock your refrigerator. Try the Jackson Whole Grocer (974 West Broadway, Jackson; 307-733-0450), which carries a good selection of fresh produce and decently priced staples and liquor. Sports Authority (455 West Broadway, Jackson; 307-733-4449) offers the best deals on gear and rental equipment.

New York Times Ski Guide 2010

Charming & Cheap

Ski, January 2003
by Everett Potter

Good deals on desirable digs are hard to come by, but this inn fits the bill. Here you’ll sleep well knowing you saved a bundle.

Scandinavian pine and exposed beams set the tone at the Alpine House, located two blocks from Jackson’s town square. Owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone are both former Olympians (she’s a biathelete; he competed in nordic combined). The in nhas 22 rooms with pine trim ad pastel colors, down comforters and plush robes. Most rooms have individual fireplacves or dimminutive white porcelain wood stoves. You’ll also find a library stocked with well-thumbed mountaineering books, a spa room, a Finnish sauna and an outdoor hot tub. Mornings bring banana pecan pancakes or Rocky Mountain eggs benedict from chef Eric Bartle to stoke you for your first leap off Corbet’s. Details: 800-753-1421; alpinehouse.com; doubles from $110, including breakfast.

Ski Magazine

Olympic Hospitality

Teton Home, Fall/Winter 2002/2003
by Rob Marin

Guests always get the gold.

Visitors to the Tetons are a mixed bunch. Some are seeking rugged adventure like rock climbing and backcountry skiing, devoting the lion’s share of their trip to roughing it. Others come for the magnificent scenery or downhill skiing but want to be pampered daily with fine food, a great room and friendly local hospitality. Lodging properties in Jackson Hole typically cater to one crowd or the other, but at Hans and Nancy Johnstone’s The Alpine House, both ends of the spectrum are likely to feel right at home, in large part due to the hospitality of the innkeepers themselves.

A luxurious inn with an informal atmosphere, The Alpine House blends Scandinavian design, country style and an adventurous, outdoor spirit. Whether for one night or a whole week, a stay is akin to visiting a couple of congenial friends dialed in to the Teton outdoor scene—who also happen to own a great house in downtown Jackson.

The Johnstones’ place features a bistro-like open dining area with an enticing combination of ivory walls, warm pine trim, heavy timber beams and plenty of sunshine. Here guests can enjoy a gourmet breakfast or optional dinner during the winter season. A whimsical Viking mural, painted by local artist Greta Gretzinger and inspired by Hans’ Norwegian descent, graces the espresso bar, which is only steps from some fireside reading in the intimate library. Fireplaces and down comforters warm the cozy guest rooms, which also draw their character from antiques and custom-built beds.

The look and feel of the inn grew directly from the Johnstones’ personalities, interests and backgrounds. Both Hans and Nancy are unfailingly personable, and they welcome guests with the decidedly faded blue-jean demeanor of grown-up mountain-town ski bums. Both learned the sport as part of active New England families; both are climbers, travelers and Olympic athletes.

Hans’ mother came from Norway, where children start skiing about the same time they learn to stand on two feet. “She can’t help it,” he says of her life-long affliction. Neither could he. He grew up in Massachusetts, where his father ran a Nordic ski program and the sport was a family tradition. He began competing in high school and went on to become a five-year member of the United States Ski Team, participating in the Olympic Nordic combined (cross-country skiing and jumping) event at Calgary in 1988.

Nancy grew up schussing the slopes near Stowe, Vermont, switching her focus to the more aerobically demanding Nordic combined discipline during college. She joined the Army National Guard in the 1980s for their biathlon (Nordic skiing and target shooting) training program and ultimately competed in the Olympics at Albertville, France, in 1992. She met Hans in 1986 at an annual Nordic training camp in West Yellowstone. Together they have traveled throughout Europe and Russia, ski touring and competing.

Hans worked as a civil engineer when they first moved to Jackson, and although they had always thought about opening a business together, neither envisioned becoming innkeepers, despite the fact that Nancy’s father had run a motel back in Stowe. “We were going to open a bagel shop,” Nancy says, “but Pearl Street [Bagels] beat us to it.”

In 1991 the pair bought a “fixer-upper” cabin not far from Jackson’s town square. When they realized the town had designated the area as a lodging district, they decided to get into the hotel business. “They had to hit us over the head with [the idea],” Hans jokes. He says they only bought the property because it was “the cheapest place in Jackson.” The old cabin was moved to the back of the lot, and construction began on The Alpine House.

The Johnstones designed their inn like a European country house‚Äîinstead of following the massive log lodge trend so prevalent in Wyoming. They had raced and ski-toured in Norway together, and both were impressed with the clean lines and open, brightly lit interiors of Scandinavian country homes and ski huts. “We didn’t want a cookie-cutter look,” Hans says.

They were nervous about committing to their own business, but they also enjoyed the creativity of coming up with a unique design. “It was actually pretty exciting,” Hans says, “though the stress was sometimes a little more than you like.” Their taste is evident in the attention given to the interior of the living area, including century-old recycled timber ceiling beams and the radiant-heated, rustic tile floor. However, they did get some help from their families in furnishing the place. Hans’ and Nancy’s mothers scoured New England antique shops, and Hans’ parents drove their finds all the way to Wyoming.

They opened in July 1994 with seven rooms and scraped by for years, running the place by themselves. Nancy did all the cooking and Hans brought in extra income guiding Teton climbers (for the world-renowned Exum Mountain Guides) and skiers (for Valdez Heli-Ski Guides in Alaska). Not above the ordinary chores of winter, he even shoveled snow off the roofs of Jackson Hole homes. At times the work overwhelmed them. “It seemed like a nightmare,” Nancy says. “We had no experience or training. We’d just wing it.”

But wing it they did. In 2001 a major addition and remodeling job expanded The Alpine House to 22 guest rooms. Most feature gas-fired white porcelain stoves and beds specially crafted by a Bozeman furniture maker.

Hans and Nancy moved into a separate residence and hired a staff, which has freed them from many day-to-day tasks. Now in more of a managerial role, they have some additional personal time, though they still put in plenty of hours. Typically starting work at 5:30 a.m., they might escape for a ski by midafternoon. More importantly, they can devote time to building a family.

While competing in Russia, the couple saw a great need for adoption. In 1999 they brought home a bright little boy named Sasha. Hans, smiling proudly, says, “He rules.”
“He rules us, anyway,” Nancy quips.

“We always wanted a genius for a child, so we figured we had to adopt,” Hans says, grinning. They are considering adopting a second Russian baby.

The Alpine House chef Eric Bartle has relieved Nancy of the time-consuming cooking tasks and helped redefine the inn’s menu. “I want my breakfasts to compete with all the restaurants in town,” he says.

“We try to do everything in-house,” Bartle continues. He bakes his own granola, smokes his own meats and grinds specialty sausages, all with an eye on presenting fare that is both delicious and healthy. Since the kitchen is open to the dining area, guests are entertained by Bartle at work, and they frequently pepper him with questions. “I definitely play it up,” he says, explaining that he loves his role as live entertainer.
Hans and Nancy give their chef freedom to orchestrate the menu. “I like to squeeze my own tomatoes,” says Bartle, who shops locally, utilizing hometown growers and suppliers, and uses seasonal produce whenever possible.

Guests can choose from memorable breakfast entr√©es like Rocky Mountain Eggs Benedic‚Äîan English muffin and poached eggs topped with trout (alder-smoked in-house) and an orange-dill hollandaise sauce. Flapjack fans can gorge on banana-pecan pancakes with whipped vanilla butter and pure Vermont maple syrup. Spring Harvest Breakfast Hash includes herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, asparagus, leeks, woodland mushrooms and scrambled eggs, all mixed with aged Vermont white cheddar. Two entr√©es are served each morning, along with a buffet of lighter fare, including fresh fruit and muffins, breads, cereals, juice, organic teas and coffee. Teton adventurers sometimes apply the motto “Go big or go home” when they play; if they get carried away at this breakfast table, they just might go home bigger.

The Alpine House clientele are about half casual tourists and half athletic outdoors folk. “We get a lot of harder-core skiers,” Nancy says. Hans adds that fellow Olympians periodically visit as well. “Freeloaders,” Nancy says with a smirk.

Many climbers camp or stay at Climbers’ Ranch in Grand Teton National Park for part of their adventure, enjoying a night or two of luxury at The Alpine House after their climb. Hans and Nancy sometimes guide guests on outdoor climbing, skiing or trail-running excursions. They and their employees are also great resources for local outdoor information. “We have a young staff who ski and fish and like to talk to everybody [about it],” Nancy says. The library also contains a number of useful outdoor guidebooks.

After a weekend climb of the Grand or a day of thigh-burning ski runs on Rendezvous Mountain, guests can soak in the spa, bake in the Finnish sauna or book a rub-down in The Alpine House massage room. The Alpine House massage therapists specialize in a variety of massage styles, including Swedish, deep-tissue work and sports massage, and will customize their treatments to an individual’s needs and preferences. And beginning this winter, The Alpine House is offering specialty spa treatments as well, like soothing mud baths. The inn also features a meeting room for business clients who need to combine a little work with their play time. For those who must stay in touch with the office, the guest rooms have telephones, voice mail and data ports.

Hans and Nancy may seem to have devoted their lives to their favorite “leisure” activities, but they achieved their lifestyle through years of hard work, both in training for international competition and building their business. At times they’ve wondered whether it was worth the sacrifice, but the pieces are falling into place. “We can’t imagine what would be better,” Hans says.

“I could have married a rich husband,” Nancy teases him. That this couple created a tasteful, first-rate inn with great food and friendly down-home comfort shouldn’t be a surprise. Hans says it all when he talks about the rewards of Olympic competition: “It’s always satisfying when you do your best.” That’s an attitude that’s bound to keep guests of all disciplines coming back again and again.

Open year-round, The Alpine House has standard and deluxe rooms and suites, most with fireplaces and private balconies. Prices range from $155 to $265 in summer, $110 to $245 in winter, and $95 to $175 between seasons. Ski packages including lift tickets are also available. Call 1-800-753-1421 for more information or log on to www.alpinehouse.com.

Teton Home

Best Value

Travel & Leisure, December 2002
by Sally Wadyka

Alpine House owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone are both former Oympians (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 crepes 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.alpiinehouse.com; doubles from $110, including breakfast.

Travel & Leisure