The Inn at Jackson Hole was one of the oldest places to stay in Teton Village when David and Ellie Gibson became the new majority owners in 2010.
And it needed some work. The place was worn. The Gibsons had stayed in many lodges in Jackson and the Village over many years of visiting and were at neighboring and brand-new Hotel Terra when they first heard The Inn was on the market. They were interested.
But despite a lot of time in the area, they weren’t familiar with it, and it took some years before it began to turn around to their liking.
As Ellie Gibson put it recently sitting in her newly redone lobby: “Before the renovation I refused to stay here.”
The Inn had customers, but because of age, competition and a financial condition not ready for the 2008 crash it was “in distress ... struggling,” David Gibson said.
The Inn was new in 1968, when Teton Village was in its infancy. The four-story building, about 46,500 square feet, sits on just less than an acre. It and the nearby Hostel were at one end of the rate market, with the Four Seasons at the other, Gibson said. They considered “tearing it down and building new.”
They didn’t do that. But they did invest more than $20 million in a redo and then went another step to give the place not just a new face but a new personality: They’ve joined Teton Gravity Research, the Jackson Hole ski and adventure film producers, for a bit of ski resort personality rebranding.
The lodge — rechristened Continuum when it presented its remodeled self at Thanksgiving — is not just fixed up, but also linked to TGR for events that the Gibsons hope will make it stand out.
TGR was founded in 1996 by brothers Todd and Steve Jones. It’s grown into a ski and boarding business power, creating videos that have gone beyond the old Warren Miller ski films in both skiing and filming skills but still targeting the adrenalin-fueled winter sports that attract many young athletes. David Gibson noticed that, knew TGR had had offices in the building and thought he saw an opportunity.
TGR, he said, “had a wide fanbase and a culture, an aura about what they do” that seemed likely to be good for his new hotel. Gibson, a New Jersey hedge fund manager, was new to the lodging business. But he saw that TGR “resonates with people, it’s authentic.”
Steve Jones and his brother had brainstormed the idea of a hotel link that could be a home for TGR activities. When Gibson heard of their interest he went to them, and a deal was made to help both.
“I think for Todd and myself from our inception we always thought of TGR as more of a lifestyle brand, action sports, but that had to do with travel and adventure and youth culture,” Steve Jones said. “And we wanted to offer a deeper immersion into the TGR lifestyle ... thought people want a lot more of an offering when they visit than just ‘Here’s your room,’ and you check in.”
Gibson also liked that TGR has a social media reach in the 500,000 range.
He thinks that connection played a part in the pre-Christmas boost in business Continuum saw from the TGR-sponsored premiere of “Fire On the Mountain,” a sport film that linked the improvisational nature of Grateful Dead music with the same make-it-up-as-you-go feel of skiing. Jones and pro skier Chris Benchetler were behind the film and on hand for the opening.
Continuum offered a special package for the showing and it went well, said Marketing and Sales Vice President Erik Dombrowski.
Dombrowski said the TGR link makes Continuum “a new breed of hotel” and Teton Village’s “home base for the adventurist.”
“It was a slow time a year, and after Continuum’s soft opening,” Jones said. “We capped ticket sales at 200 and weren’t sure, but we sold out both nights.”
Jones said TGR events in New York City and Los Angeles have topped 2,000 people drawn by the lifestyle and willing to spend money to enjoy it — and happy for the kind of TGR-Continuum events being planned, as opposed to a standard tour package.
Other TGR movie events and parties are anticipated, along with lodging packages that bring hotel guests together with professional skiers and snowboarders. Jones hopes for summer events with mountain bike pros and maybe seminars to teach film and editing to people inspired by seeing TGR products.
It’s a big market, Jones said, and not what many people expect when they think “snowboard crowd.”
“The demographic is broader, much broader, than people would think,” Jones said. “Ten-year-olds, 12-year-old kids all the way to 60-year-old healthy, fit adventure travelers.”
The events take advantage of the remodeled lodge. The millions spent began with the remodeling of 34 of the building’s 90 rooms in time for the August 2017 solar eclipse. A new lobby, bar and restaurant area were envisioned as a “communal, comfortable space,” said Ellie Gibson, who took charge of much of the new construction and remodeling.
The initial proposal for the renovation tended toward the traditional Wyoming look, “brown and Western,” she said. But that was rejected because “we wanted to be the opposite of that.”
The result is a modern, airy bar and restaurant with a mezzanine above, all wrapped by big windows that light the area and offer a view of the new pool and hot tub area.
She directs operations at the couple’s two ice rinks in New Jersey and their attendant junior hockey programs, which enroll close to 500 skaters. She and her husband made a good team for the Continuum work, she said.
“He’s the thinker, I’m the whip,” she said.
She worked with designer Dana Lee, who has done hotel and motion picture work around the world; Jackson architect John Carney; and Stan Zaist of Zaist Construction Management. Hotel management is by The Yarrow Group. The Gibsons’ original purchase was handled by Sotheby’s agent Rob DesLauriers, himself a former pro skier.
The Gibsons are encouraged by the changes and what seems to be a good start in the new direction. Though the hospality business is far from the investments he’s used to, David Gibson likes the feel.
“Business is really hard,” he said, “but if part of your job is to make people happy, that’s good.”