Late last spring I was hosted by Aman resorts at their first built North American property, Amangani in Jackson Hole, Wyoming a town I have never had the opportunity to visit. This being my fourth Aman property to experience I was curious to compare and see how they differed. Of course, the location would be the most obvious. Amangani sits on the crest of a bluff, on East Gros Ventre Butte, 10 minutes outside the beautiful town of Jackson and 20 minutes from Jackson Airport. Now, there are airport landings which literally take your breath away and one of them for me was the arrival at Jackson Hole. Peeking out of the airplane window I could not help but just stare at the wide-open spaces and the snowcapped mountains in the distance. It was like being greeted by one of the most majestic views of the Western frontier. Stepping out of the aircraft door the crisp and fresh mountain air filled my lungs. I felt refreshed and energized.
Amangani is a luxury base camp for skiers, hikers, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. An exclusive hilltop hideaway on the fringes of Grand Teton National Park. As one might expect from ultra-luxury Aman Resorts, Amangani is intimate and private, with gorgeous interiors, exemplary service and a money-shot view over meadows and mountains. A linear layout ensures all rooms and public areas take full advantage of the vista that this privileged position permits. Every Aman property is designed to reflect its environment. In Amangani’s case, this means lots of natural materials. The sandstone-clad, pitch-roofed lobby gives onto triple-height windows to capitalize on that view, while flagstone floors, redwood beams and rawhide and faux-fur soft furnishings are complemented by modern artworks and authentic Native American artefacts. It all comes together in a home-from-home ambiance with a well-to-do, Wild West slant.
Stepping inside the three-story hotel the first thing that got my attention was the stellar view. The windows of the lobby offer sweeping views of the Teton Range and Snake River range. True to Aman style the interiors are extravagant yet minimalistic and take inspiration from the location, in the case of Amangani it’s the beautiful outdoor scenery. Since this was not my first Aman experience, I knew what level of service to expect, and I was not disappointed. My host greeted me with a cool glass of freshly squeeze nectar of huckleberries which I would later learn is an ingredient used in many local recipes. After being checked in, I was personally led to my suite and given a through run-through of all its bells and whistles. The mini bar loaded with locally sourced snacks and beverages that would be at my disposal if a craving should hit. The living area came with too-comfy-to-leave, low-slung beds and floor-to-ceiling windows leading onto oversized terraces. Plush seating areas transformed the room into my personal cozy sanctuary. Like the lobby, my deluxe suite was quaint and LUX. My suite came with heated floors and a remote-controlled fireplace which I enjoyed even though the temps were hovering in the 60’s but can imagine how appreciated that would be in a Wyoming winter. My suite had all the possible creature comforts – his and hers vanities, spacious closets, Nespresso machine, walk in showers and a soaking tub with a glorious view. I enjoyed this each evening sprinkled with sage smelling bath salts. My favorite part was the incredibly large balcony over-looking the snowcapped Grand Tetons. Like all the suites it offered panoramic views of the valley. I could see the bison grazing in the pastures below and at dusk a family of deer frolicking on the dewy grass. Standing upon the terrace overlooking the mountains, is the resort’s spectacular rectangular pool and whirlpool tub. Both are heated, which makes for wonderful year-round dips. I forgot my swimsuit but thankfully the shop in the resort had the perfect style and fit for me so I could enjoy swimming laps each morning taking in the crisp air. I felt like a princess and as though my room had to be the best in the resort but no, every suite looks out over the mountains, The 40 spacious suites are a symphony in wood, stone, and slate.
I had a little time before I had to get ready for dinner and decided to sit by the pool. I typically bring my headphones to listen to music but this time I decided to sit in the peaceful silence of the moment. There was nothing to hear other than the sound of nature and nothing to look at but the sweeping views of the Teton Mountains. Talk about hitting the re-set button. I didn’t know how much I needed this until I was experiencing it. Now I understand why this Jackson Hole, Wyoming resort is beloved by celebrities and the over-scheduled being torn from one meeting to another. This was peace at its finest.
That evening I attended a cocktail and canapés gathering in the rich, wood paneled library with doors that opened to a sandstone patio. As the sun settled in the west the view became drenched with the rich colors of golden red and burnt orange. It was magical and with sunsets like this, priceless memories I will always have.
Next it was off to dinner in the high-ceilinged, redwood-walled eatery, The Grill. It not only allows you to admire the local wildlife though its floor-to-ceiling windows, but to eat it too. The inventive American menu takes in elk sirloin chili and bison ribs, as well as Kobe beef from Idaho and line-caught yellowfin tuna. As luck would have it, the restaurant had just launched its own brand of champagne which I enjoyed with my starter of a red beet and goat cheese salad sprinkled with pistachios. I followed this with exquisite fresh caught salmon and ended my meal with a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie. AHHHHmazing! I was ready to sink into my plush bed for a night of rest.
The next morning, I woke early and met my expert guide who would take me on an incredible wildlife tour. I didn’t bring binoculars for wildlife-spotting and mountain close-ups, but never fear, Aman thinks of everything and had a pair to loan me. My guide Jared had been exploring the Grand Tetons for 20 plus years. I experienced a tour of the National Park and searched for grizzly bears along with the wide variety of Wyoming’s wildlife. It’s times like these when I really appreciate mother nature. We saw several species of animals including moose, elk, bison, a red fox porcupine and wolves. It was possible I would even get to see the best known and most photographed grizzly of all time: Bear 399, a 27-year-old female who lived her entire life in Grand Teton National Park. In order to thrive, grizzly’s require significant undeveloped space and distance from most human activity and the 22 million protected acres surrounding the area is just that. Unfortunately for me 399 decided to sleep in that day but was seen the following with her brand-new cub. I became an instant fan of hers and proceeded to follow on Instagram.
What better way to offset the exciting heart thrilling adventure of a wildlife hike than to relax at the spa and enjoy a 60-minute-deep tissue massage. The intimate spa at Amangani met the challenge and I left feeling refreshed and renewed. That evening I ventured into town to do some shopping and dine at one of the local restaurants. Jackson Hole, a ritzy resort town, is set at the foothills of the natural wonderland that is Grand Teton National Park. The town was bustling with locals and tourists enjoying the setting sunshine, while sitting outside enjoying the views sipping on a cocktail. I decided it would be a sin not to visit the famed Million Dollar Cowboy Bar where barstools are made from horse saddles and the rich wood bar has been serving up house made cocktails and BBQ for decades. Later that evening they would have live music and dancing which, If I hadn’t had the early morning, I would have enjoyed.
On my final full day in Jackson Hole, I headed to Snake River for the experience of a white-water raft tour. My fearless leader filled me in on the sites as we bumped and bounced through the melted winter snow while navigating the rocks and fallen trees. It was both exciting and educational. Only 15 minutes from here sits the National Museum of Wildlife Art (NMWA) across from the National Elk Lands where hundreds of wild elk graze. NMWA is the nation’s only museum dedicated solely to wildlife art, representing wild animals from around the world.
After another award deserving dinner back at Amangani, I decided to sit on the balcony by an open fire and take in all the elements. From the fresh mountain air, the silence and stillness and so many stars in the sky, it was truly a memorable and perfect ending to the day.
My flight wasn’t leaving until the afternoon, so I had just enough time for one last adventure to indulge myself with. A horseback ride along the mountain tops. As a huge convenience, the horse ranch, not part of the resort, happened to be only a 10 min walk down the mountain. It was the ideal ending to the adventurous trip to Jackson.
Built-in 1998, Amangani is the first property of Aman Resorts in North America. From unfailingly charming front-of-house staff to instinctive and unobtrusive waiters, service hovers comfortingly between personal and polished. For example, when I showed up at the restaurant for breakfast, my preferred choice of morning coffee would appear without having to ask, while housekeeping would magically make up my room by the time, I returned to my room. An effortlessly dramatic Rocky Mountain hideaway situated close to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks that in winter months is the ideal base for skiing the snow-packed slopes of Jackson Hole, but this all-suite Wyoming wilderness retreat has back-to-nature appeal all year round., A true adventure destination and already considered perhaps the best wildlife viewing in North America, the incredible opportunity of wildlife viewings and possibility to catch a glimpse of a newly emerged bear from hibernation must be one of the most unique experiences one can have. I would keep these memories with me forever and hope to return and share them next time with my family. Aman has done it again; the perfect resort to host the perfect experience.