Home in the TetonsBetter known for ranches than resorts...

TRAVEL SMARTS

January 17, 1999

Home in the Tetons

Better known for ranches than resorts, Jackson Hole has a new retreat to help change its rough-and-tumble image. The three-story Amangani opened in October within Spring Creek Ranch, a 1,000-acre wildlife area that looks across meadows and pastures to Wyoming's Teton Range.

Built of Oklahoma sandstone, Douglas fir, cedar and Pacific redwood, the resort features the clean lines and simplicity its Far Eastern heritage might suggest. Amangani, which means "peaceful home" in Shoshone, is the first American resort opened by Amanresorts, a Hong Kong-based chain. The sprawling compound features 40 suites each with a fireplace and deck with a view of the Tetons and surrounding valleys.

Amenities include a library, boutique, bar and two restaurants. For relaxation, there are four treatment rooms for massage, body wraps and facials, steam rooms, a whirlpool and a juice bar. Feeling more active? Guests have use of a 35-meter swimming pool, two exercise rooms, two tennis courts, stables for trail riding and a 16-mile Nordic center for skiing and snowshoeing.

Nearby Jackson Hole has more than two dozen galleries, numerous restaurants and shops, the National Museum of Wildlife Art and Buffalo Bill Historical Center to commend it.

Prices for the winter/spring season start at $450 per night, and for the summer/autumn season at $550. Call 307-734-7333 or 877-734-7333.

A Seal of Ecology

For three weeks each spring, more than 250,000 harp seals migrate to eastern Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence to deliver their young. Whitecoats, as their pups are called, are born with immaculate white fur that changes to gray in three weeks. During those weeks, Seal Watch, a tour operator specializing in small-group trips focused on wildlife, makes five trips to ice fields near the Magdalen Islands to interact with the whitecoats.

For centuries these seal pups were hunted for their white fur. In 1987, Canada banned commercial hunting of seals and Seal Watch was born out of the partnership between Colorado-based Natural Habitat Adventures and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. Their main goal is to boost the area's economy -- once hunting-dependent -- onto profits made by ecotourism.

This year, the five- to six-day tours will be offered from Feb. 28 to March 20. Tour prices begin at $1,795 and include round-trip airfare from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the Magdalen Islands as well as accommodations, expedition gear, guided activities and ground transportation to the seal area. Call 800-543-8917.

Golden bests

What's hot in California is the focus of Tessera vineyard's new "Best of California" guide. The vintner's potpourri of facts and figures covers great beaches, shopping areas, fly-fishing spots, even the best places to meditate and the best all-girl surf shop. Also thrown in are not-so-useful facts, such as the area's best fan club, best metaphysical question related to a California band and the Golden State's most indispensable product. Of course, there are a few touts for Tessera along the way, but these are minimal. For a copy of the free 36-page guide, visit the Tessera Web site at www.tesserawines.com or write Tessera's Best of California, 1200 Jefferson St., Napa, Calif. 94559.

Cold facts

During the winter of 1775, all appeared normal in Williamsburg, Va., but political unrest festered beneath the surface. From now until March 13, Colonial Williamsburg recaptures the cold truth of the historical period leading up to the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence.

Re-enactors portraying tradespeople, the gentry and shopkeepers discuss topics from the governor's new baby to arms stockpiling. Visits with slaves and bedridden townspeople offer everyday views of this era. Call 800-HISTORY.

-- Randi Kest

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