As the world comes to a standstill as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, we encourage all of you to hunker down right now, too. In the meantime, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to get back out there.
It’s nearly impossible to watch Winterland, the latest film from Teton Gravity Research, and not fantasize about climbing into the helicopter with skiers Angel Collinson and Elyse Saugstad in search of ridiculously steep lines in Alaska. In true TGR fashion, the film has plenty of powder-porn moments, but it also captures the camaraderie of 23 skiers and snowboarders who live the lifestyle we mortals dream about. TGR’s founders, brothers Steve and Todd Jones, hope to give their fans a taste of that by branching into the travel space with a new hotel and TGR-athlete-hosted trips.
Former pro skiers and Alaska heli-ski guides in the 1990s, the Jones brothers have been eyeing the travel industry for over ten years. “A lot of people reach out, telling us they want deeper immersion into the TGR lifestyle and access to our athletes,” Steve says. “We’re kind of like the Disney of action sports. We create content, our athletes aren’t unlike Disney characters, we just needed a resort.”
Fittingly, its first hotel project, Continuum, is located in the company’s birthplace of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and named for TGR’s flagship 1996 film, which starred the third Jones brother, snowboarder Jeremy. According to Steve, the original plan was to launch a TGR restaurant, bar, and retail space in Teton Village. But when a hotel developer caught wind of the project, he approached them about collaborating on a TGR-branded property. Set slopeside, in what used to be the Inn at Jackson Hole, Continuum had its soft opening November 28 and will have its grand opening in January.
While TGR won’t manage day-to-day operations, it is in charge of curating all the hotel experiences, which are meant to bring the brand to life. The lobby features a TGR virtual-reality experience that allows guests to put on goggles and get into a helicopter with Angel Collinson or ride a wave with surfer Rob Machado. Guests will also have the opportunity to join local and visiting TGR athletes, like skiers Tim Durtschi, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, and Kai Jones (son of TGR’s Todd Jones), mountain biker Casey Brown, and big-wave surfer Ian Walsh, on year-round adventures nearby, ranging from first-tracks ski sessions to mountain-bike excursions. There are plans for an après-with-athletes series, too, and in the off-season, Continuum will host film-editing workshops led by TGR’s noted crew. A natural venue for film screenings, the hotel will launch its movie series on December 11, with TGR’s new Grateful Dead–themed flick Fire on the Mountain. The event will be hosted by director and skier Chris Benchetler and Machado.
The hotel has 83 rooms, from lofts with kitchenettes to affordable double queens, starting at $119 a night. Steve admits the modern-minimalist design—blond wood, polished concrete, gray and black textiles—is a bit more upscale than he and Todd anticipated, but the vibe is purely TGR, particularly in the new lounge and bar area. Après-ski is intended to draw guests and locals, with flat-screen TVs streaming TGR classics, a retractable bar that spills out to a heated pool and a 25-person hot tub, and signature TGR cocktails named after films like The Continuum (double Jack and Coke) and Tangerine Dream (tequila, lime, and energy drink). Steve insists the prices won’t offend locals. “We talked a lot about what we were going to do for the people who live here,” he says. “We’re working on a local rewards program and discounts for events.” He adds that they tried to hire people to work at the hotel who have TGR DNA. “How cool is it to realize your bartender is the guy you just shared 15 tram rides with. We’re really trying to create an adventure community.”
“Todd and I have lived in Jackson nearly 30 years, and we’ve seen these exclusive properties, like Caldera House and the Four Seasons, move in,” he says. “And then you have the hostels. There was a demand for something in between. Continuum is sophisticated and modern but merges the fun vibes inherent in TGR culture.” Sleep, shred, party, drink, repeat is the philosophy.
At a decidedly different price point, the brand has also launched TGR Fantasy Trips, multi-day experiences meant to recreate the thrill of some of its most iconic footage, like the Alaska powder scenes from Winterland. While TGR has done one-off camps and trips in the past, these new outings are highly curated, pairing guests one-on-one with guides, TGR athletes, and cinematographers. “We pump out content with the tagline ‘Live the dream,’ and people want to live the dream,” says Steve. “We get inquiries all the time about trips. People tell us they went to Alaska, but their trip didn’t look anything like what they saw in our films. We don’t want to be a heli business, but we can pair people with the operators we work with and our TGR experts.”
Last winter, Triple Point Expeditions in Palmer, Alaska, hosted the TGR team for a month while it shot footage for Winterland. This winter the heli operator will serve as base camp for the first Fantasy Trips. For $125,000 for a week, a group of six can request a TGR athlete of their choice (based on availability) or a TGR filmmaker or, for an additional $5,000, both. The hefty price includes lodging, meals, a guide, fat skis or snowboards, avalanche gear, a TGR gift bag, and the opportunity to help with the custom edit of your footage. Steve says they are looking to test-run trips in Japan and add surf and mountain-bike trips based on the same model.
“This next chapter for TGR really sets us apart,” he says. “Never with any degree of arrogance do we say we don’t have competitors, because we do. There’s Warren Miller, Patagonia, Vice, Red Bull. But that’s across different categories. What we’re doing is completely unique. It’s been an evolution of the brand from film to lifestyle.”