Top 15 Hotels in the Southwest and West: Readers’ Choice Awards 2021

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Set the scene: what is this place like?
Modest. Next to a tram stop where candy-apple red trams come and go. Just the right touch of western nods without the kitschy wood decor and taxidermy. Modern furniture from designers such as John Pawson and Patricia Urquiola.

What’s the story behind?
This is an independent hotel, primarily the vision of Wes Edens, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, former ski racer and longtime visitor to Jackson Hole. He and three partners, all passionate about skiing, spent six years and over $ 100 million creating this exciting project. The involvement of Commune (Ace Hotel Chicago and LA) in the design is certainly noteworthy – the LA-based studio added a distinct residential feel that you don’t normally get in most mountain cabins. Edens’ only directive was no Aces (A-hole or wood guests).

What can we expect from our room?
Chic New York Penthouse meets rustic, cozy mountain lodge. We were in the four bedroom suite, Taupo (there are only eight bedrooms in total), with a heated patio, fireplace, and a tub in the bathroom, furnished with candles and bath salts. The bed is like a big pillow; there are colorful tiles in the bathroom and a cloakroom full of outdoor essentials (sunscreen, hand warmers). I loved the playlists loaded on the iPad playing all over the room. The wood-burning fireplace is a nice touch and the kitchen is equipped with everything you could possibly want.

What about food and drink?
The take-out Cable Cafe right on the streetcar offers $ 3 beers, slice pizzas and sloshies, alcoholic slushies that are a Jackson specialty. Old Yellowstone Garage is an outpost of a locally beloved joint a few miles away, run by the same chef, Paulie O’Connor, recognizable by his tattoos and piercings. Its New York-style Italian cuisine is just what you want after a long day of hiking or skiing, and it’s reasonably priced. The OYG lasagna is a must, and there’s an all-you-can-eat pizza night on Monday. Try the Old Faithful (San Marzano tomatoes, basil, mozzarella) or Père Guido Sarducci (provolone sausage, mushrooms, caramelized onions, kale, arugula, mascarpone and mozzarella). The Italian wine list is very rich. The hidden locker room candy closet is a favorite item, filled with old-fashioned candy such as swirling rainbow lollipops and candy necklaces.

Something to say about the service?
You don’t see the staff walking around, although there is always someone at the reception. Where Caldera House shines is its experiences – it has teamed up with locals to put on some amazing off-property activities: Exum mountain guides for hiking and even a Grand Teton summit if you’re fit enough. Or an award-winning photographer for a photo tour of Yellowstone, or private SUP yoga lessons in the (magical) park. They also offer heli-skiing and heli-hiking. The GM Pamela Neci was wanted by Bela Coola Heli Ski and she is an absolute pro.

Who else is staying here?
Badass pro skiers (Jimmy Chin, Bode Miller, and Tommy Moe are all regulars) as well as some of Wall Street and Silicon Valley’s biggest disruptors, boasting of skiing the Corbet Corridor. Wear some serious tech clothes (North Face, Salomon) and talk about everything from Warren Miller’s latest film to the new sci-fi start-up.

How does it fit into the neighborhood?
It’s a short walk from the Jackson Hole Mountain Tram in the heart of Teton Village. The Mudroom, Caldera’s onsite hardware store, is run by a local ski tuning guru and can outfit customers with everything from splitboards and SUPs to big bikes and road bikes. You could say that the Four Seasons is right up the hill and has a lively afternoon scene, but it draws a very Four Seasons crowd. At the South Cable Café and the Old Yellowstone Garage, you get a real mix of locals and visitors.

Something you would change?
There are plans for a spa, which are missing. And would add studios or one bedroom options.

Something we missed?
Overheard: Four Seasons guests explain how Caldera House has Peloton bikes in the gym and strategize how to access them.

Is it worth it and why?
It’s crazy, but well worth it for the valet parking alone (Jackson Hole resort has no parking) and the ski concierge. La Caldera House really makes you feel like a local rather than a stranger by putting guests in touch with local guides and adding touches like a costume closet so you can dress up for the local vacation.


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