It’s All about the amenities
Homeowners looking for golf, tennis, swimming—and more than ‘just a place to live’—find their Valhalla in a range of Teton-area developments
photography by david J swift
People move to Jackson Hole for many reasons. In the past, a draw for many was the privacy; the remoteness of each home, the independence guaranteed by living in a pristine environment so different from a city or suburb. Today, quality of life—including access to the outdoors, and the astounding beauty of our area—still attracts residents. But now, unlike yesteryear, they have the option of choosing an amenities-rich development that provides convenience, recreational opportunities, and a sense of community.
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis opened in 1965, primarily as a sporting resort seeking members who could pay to participate in its activities whether or not they lived on the grounds. The “country club” approach, modeled after such establishments found throughout the United States, was duplicated with the development of Teton Pines in 1987, Jackson’s first gated community.
Over the past decade, a number of developments have been created around the idea of owning a home that extends beyond membership in the club. Jackson Hole has seen the addition of 3 Creek Ranch and Shooting Star; in Teton Valley, Teton Springs and Huntsman Springs are both developed and operating (construction at River Rim, another amenities-based development in the northern part of Teton County, Idaho, has been put on hold).
Much more than simple subdivisions, these developments present activities that country clubs have historically offered—golf, tennis, swimming, summer camps for children, and exclusive dining opportunities. Members pay dues to belong, and they may or may not live within the development.
Increasingly, though, it is real estate (“location, location, location”), and the emphasis on residential life, that set these developments apart from traditional country clubs. Homeowners are drawn to these amenities-based communities not only for what they can do there, but also for the convenience, geographic benefits, and social atmosphere that play an integral part of the joint member-resident experience.
Some homeowners move to a development primarily because of one main attraction. For Dr. Maurice and Tammy Brown of Teton Valley, that initial draw was golf. The Browns, members at both Teton Springs and Huntsman Springs, own a home in Teton Springs and also one near Tetonia.
“My husband is an avidly obsessed golfer,” Tammy says. “We lived on a golf course in Montana before we moved to Teton Valley. Mo would get off work and golf until dark.”
An orthopedic surgeon at Teton Valley Hospital, Mo was raised in Sugar City, Idaho (about 40 miles northwest of Driggs), and “dreamed of returning to the Tetons,” his wife says. They moved back in 2007 with their son Sam, who is now seventeen and will be a senior at Teton High School in the fall.
“We fell in love with the idea of living in the trees next to the forest,” Tammy says, and they found that place in north Teton Valley. “But it didn’t take us too long to realize that we lived pretty far from work, school, socializing, and golf.”
In 2011, now with a two-year-old daughter as well, they purchased a Palisades condominium in Teton Springs.
Their original motive for purchasing—the golfing opportunities—was enhanced by the convenience of the location of their new home, like-minded neighbors they’ve become acquainted with, and the variety of things there are to do. And the Browns get a double shot of that lifestyle by belonging not only to Teton Springs, but to Huntsman Springs.
“I like people and activity,” Tammy says. “I like being in Teton Springs because there is always someone around and something going on. We love the social and golf aspects of both clubs, and we have amazing friends in both Teton Springs and Huntsman Springs.”
The Browns, who still own their home in Tetonia (and still relish “living in the trees,” if only part-time), also enjoy the flexibility that their condo in Teton Springs gives them, especially in the summer.
“Our son loves being closer to town and closer to go hang out with his friends,” Tammy says. “Our daughter has activities, preschool, and classes in Victor that are more convenient to get to. I love being in Victor … to be close to Music on Main, restaurants, and [easy access to] Jackson.”
Back on the other side of the hill, the clubhouse and golf course of Shooting Star Jackson Hole opened in summer 2009. Located just south of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the development is still largely being built, with more houses under construction than one might expect given the state of the economy.
Member/homeowners Bill and Michelle McKenna chose Shooting Star for a number of reasons, says Michelle. “The first is the location [relative] to the mountain. Our children, ages fifteen, twelve, and ten, could get there and back without us driving them. Another reason was the size of the lots. They were big enough to have property, but not [so] big that we would be secluded and have too much land to care for.”
The McKennas, whose other home is in the Chicago suburbs, have owned a home in Jackson since 2003. They began with a timeshare at the Four Seasons, and later purchased a condominium there. “We decided Jackson [is] where we wished to retire, so we sold our condo and started looking for property,” Michelle says.
They shopped for more a year before deciding to build in Shooting Star. As an active family with pre-teenaged children, the Jackson Hole lifestyle appeals to them. Their new home has plenty of recreational opportunities close at hand.
“In the winter, we all snowboard or ski. In the summer, we enjoy all kinds of activities. My boys love to mountain bike; we all hike, we enjoy going into the park. We have waterskied on Jackson Lake, driven into Idaho for outdoor concerts. We try to take advantage of all the things [there are] to do,” Michelle says.
The family also appreciates the atmosphere in which service is delivered.
“Convenience is what brought us to Shooting Star, and it has turned out to be perfect,” Michelle says. “My ten-year-old can call the shuttle from the mountain and get himself home after a ski lesson. My teenage son feels comfortable going to the club to work out, enjoy the pool, or golf with a friend. The feel of Shooting Star is casual and friendly.”
Although she and Bill are not avid golfers, Michelle says, “With the beauty of the surroundings and the great summer weather, we all use the course and enjoy being out there more. The staff is helpful, and the course is quiet, friendly, and inviting.”
But with all types of real estate, sometimes it’s the home, not the amenities, that makes the difference. Jim and Maggie Hunt, members of Teton Pines for more than a dozen years, were drawn to the attributes of the house they ended up purchasing there; they’ve since discovered that the Pines’ location and convenience are equally enjoyable.
“We were not looking to own in the Pines, but we loved the house,” Maggie says. “We love being on the West Bank. We have owned homes in town and south of town previously, and chose to move back [to the West Bank]. It is really convenient for all the activities we love, and most of our friends live in the general area.”
When the Hunts first bought a home in Jackson Hole in 1999, they were living in Santa Monica, California, with their two pre-teen daughters. They were looking for a vacation home close to a ski resort.
For Maggie, a photographer and the founder and president of StockShop (a stock photography agency), Teton Pines, with its amenities, services, and proximity to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is ideal. It allows family members (their daughters are now age 23 and 24) to readily enjoy their favorite activities.
“We both love to ski, mainly alpine but some cross-country, too,” Maggie says of she and her husband; “we play golf and bike extensively. I hike, too. All of these are easily accessible from the Pines.”
She also appreciates the sense of liveliness and fun atmosphere at the Pines, especially in the summer, with those of all ages in the restaurant, at the pool, riding bikes to the Aspens Market, and enjoying everything that makes a short Jackson summer so special.
“There are a lot of families here in the summer, and great activities for them,” Maggie says. “Summer camp is a new and well-used addition as of last year. There is a great tennis program that is accessible even to people only here briefly.”
Maggie also appreciates that the development is especially child-friendly, including the restaurant and roadways.
“The Pines strictly enforces the 20-miles-per-hour speed limit, and the gated situation means that children are able to ride their bikes around the Pines, and/or walk to activities and to the stores, with ease,” she says.
Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis and 3 Creek Ranch offer many of the same amenities in Jackson Hole as Teton Pines and Shooting Star, while Huntsman Springs and Teton Springs are similar in what they provide in Teton Valley (see comparisons, starting on page 34).
The common thread connecting all of these resorts is that the people drawn to them are looking for a residential experience that includes not just special features, but also the benefits of convenience, location, and social atmosphere.
They’ve found casual, welcoming, family-oriented places that are committed to community, sustainability, and responsible growth.
“The only expectations of community I had when we bought at Shooting Star were that I wanted neighbors,” Michelle McKenna says. “The club has exceeded my expectations. Everyone is friendly and goes out of their way to be helpful.”
Tammy Brown echoes that sentiment: “The best part of both Teton Springs and Huntsman Springs is that we absolutely love the people who work at and belong to both clubs.”