Work is underway for a Hotel Jackson enlargement that will see the downtown business develop a second front door.
The work, begun recently with demolition of the old Stage Stop Mall, will give people access to the hotel and new retail space from North Cache, in addition to the Glenwood hotel entrance.
“It’s part of the original plan of Hotel Jackson, not something new or above and beyond,” said Sadek Darwiche, the general manager of the hotel. “It’s just that when we built the first part” — in 2014 for a 2015 opening — “we couldn’t afford to build both sides. ... It’s not an expansion but a completion.”
The new construction could take as long as two years, Darwiche said. It will add about a half-dozen rooms to the 55 in the existing building. Also included in the new building will be new retail space. The design, stepped back from Cache, will feature a wide pedestrian alley to connect that street to what has been the back side of Hotel Jackson.
“We’re excited we can add some value on Cache and anchor that side,” Darwiche said. The look of the addition will “bookend” the existing building “so it looks similar.”
The architect is FFKR of Salt Lake City, and the interiors are designed by TruexCullins, a Vermont firm. Wapiti Construction, a local firm operated by Zia Yasrobi and Kasey Mateosky, is the general contractor.
The mini mall has been home to a parade of businesses over the years. The two most successful have found new places nearby: Judge Roy Bean’s Old Time Photos has relocated just steps around the corner to the space in Gaslight Alley that was Valley Bookstore, and Thai Plate has moved to space on North Glenwood across from Hotel Jackson.
When Hotel Jackson opened it was a big step in luxury accommodations in downtown Jackson. The era of the roadside motor court was fading, but most high-end lodging had been built in Teton Village. Only the landmark Wort Hotel, built in the 1940s, and the Rusty Parrot, a bit farther away from Town Square, and now being rebuilt after a fire, were offering luxury lodging.
“We were the first to put this kind of luxury hotel in downtown Jackson, because we always believed in downtown Jackson,” Darwiche said. “We opened eyes up for a lot of people that luxury hotels in downtown Jackson can exist.”
Providing the level of service Jackson customers now expect takes a staff of about 60 at Hotel Jackson and its restaurant, Figs, Darwiche said.
Like every Jackson business, he said, it’s tough these days to find the people, but he said it’s not just Jackson. Darwiche said hotels and restaurants around the country are squeezed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision of many workers in those industries not to return to work.
“It’s not just Jackson Hole problem,” he said, “it’s a national problem.”
Darwiche’s father, Jim Darwiche, worked in the aerospace field and ran supermarkets before he came to Jackson visiting 40 years ago and decided to stay. The elder Darwiche has worked a number of jobs in Jackson, running Crazy Horse Indian Jewelry and A Touch of Class, served as a county commissioner and was founder of the Jackson Farmers Market. Darwiche, coincidentally, spent his first night in Jackson at the Circle A Motel, which later became the Stage Stop Mall, which the family bought in 2004.
The elder Darwiche told the News&Guide when Hotel Jackson opened that “No matter how much it costs we do feel as a family this is well worth the investment in the community.”
His son said the family maintains that view because this is where they live and do business: “We are not a hedge fund out of New York,” he said.
“We were the first to put this kind of luxury hotel in downtown Jackson, because we always believed in downtown Jackson.” — Sadek Darwiche hotel jackson general manager