Choosing to stay in a luxury bed-and-breakfast during your trip to the Jackson Hole/Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks area is an intimate lodging alternative not to be missed, and River Retreat Lodge — located in Swan Valley, Idaho — boasts its own unique character and special brand of serenity.
An Intimate Lodging Alternative
This off-the-beaten-track, boutique western B&B experience in Irwin, Idaho, is only about an hour’s drive from Jackson Hole and has the extra caveat of feeling like a true wilderness retreat after a busy day spent sightseeing and taking advantage of all manner of outdoor activities.
Nestled amongst fragrant pine trees and beautiful gardens with mountain views all around, River Retreat Lodge is lovingly run by innkeepers Liz and John Douville, local residents of the Teton, Star and Swan valley areas for more than 25 years. They opened their lodge to guests in the summer of 2021.
The couple has kept a lot of the original furnishings and decor throughout the historic, large rustic log cabin.
Liz said she and John had dreamed of running a B&B ever since they got married almost 20 years ago,
“We knew exactly what we wanted in a B&B and in 2008 began looking all over the country for that special one,” Liz said.
“We didn’t know there was a B&B right here in Irwin [Idaho], and although it needed a little bit of renovating, the size was perfect for us,” she said. “We didn’t want to change it, didn’t want to turn it into something else and that appealed to the now-previous owners.”
In fact, the couple has kept a lot of the original furnishings and decor throughout the historic, large rustic log cabin. Originally there was just a small trapper’s cabin on the property and the previous owners built the western log home around it. That trapper’s cabin now serves as the lodge’s cozy library off the Great Room.
The renovated Great Room, replete with all new wood floors, welcomes you with a huge brick fireplace adorned with log accents. Plush leather couches and chairs beg you to sit down and relax in front of the fire.
The Great Room is dubbed the “Old Irwin Room” in a wink to the lodge’s original name.
Above the Great Room is a historical diorama homage to local wildlife, including taxidermy of coyote, mountain lions and birds, in addition to elk and deer mounts among other local creatures both big and small.
Location: 1591 Old Irwin Rd, Irwin, ID (about a one-hour drive from Jackson Hole)
Accommodations: The B&B offers six luxurious suites in a historical log cabin. It offers an exceptional opportunity to rent the entire lodge for a family reunion, small wedding, or work retreat.
Rate: $350 a night, including gourmet breakfast with locally-sourced ingredients
Amenities: All rooms include wireless internet connection, cable television, ceiling fan, closets, en-suite bath and shower, luxurious bedding, private deck and Keurig coffee brewer, among other amenities.
Redefining the Art of Western Hospitality
The accommodations at River Retreat Lodge consist of six luxurious themed suites, named after local destinations/areas — Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Snake River, Palisades, Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole.
Four of the suites can accommodate up to four individuals. These rooms feature one queen bed downstairs and one up in a loft-like setting. The two suites on the ends of the building, the Grand Teton and Yellowstone, are for two guests each. Both of those suites feature a jetted tub and double sinks in the bathroom, plus a propane fireplace. All suites have their own decks.
The suites are decorated according to their theme and feature meaningful antiques as well as local photography and/or artwork that reflect the area. Liz loves bears and owls so you will find a lot of those represented in the rooms, too! Wonderful, almost quirky decor — such as a large red canoe perched high on a shelf in the Grand Teton Suite — adds to the exceptionally special feeling of each room.
The western hospitality offered at River Retreat Lodge goes beyond the decor, and includes gourmet breakfasts prepared by chef Brandon Bollenbacher.
For instance, in the Yellowstone room, you’ll find framed postcards that Liz collected featuring various landmark images of America’s first national park.
“The room really touches my heart,” said Liz.
In fact, part of the ornamentation in the room is the actual suitcase one of Liz’s great aunts used to travel to Yellowstone one summer in the early 1900s when she was 23 and a nanny for some wealthy people who lived in a lodge nearby the park.
The western hospitality offered at River Retreat Lodge goes beyond the decor, however, and includes gourmet breakfasts and dinners prepared by chef Brandon Bollenbacher. He creates specialty gourmet cuisine that is destination-worthy dining made from fresh, locally-sourced and western ranch ingredients, including fish caught and prepared from the Snake River and other nearby water sources. Regional wines and beer complete your dining experience.
Brandon — who recently hailed from Hawaii — was once the chef at the renowned luxury resort Amangani in Jackson Hole, and spent years cooking all over southeast Asia.
Daily breakfast is offered as part of your stay. Dinners, while not included, can nonetheless be enjoyed nightly by reservation. Chef Brandon can also prepare lunches to-go for trips to the river or hiking.
Secluded—Yet Still Close To Everything
In winter there are top-notch snowmobiling opportunities, snowshoeing and even ice fishing, plus skiing at Grand Targhee Resort — located on the snowier side of the Tetons — just a 60-minute drive from the lodge.
Liz and John can facilitate your activities with outfitters and guides and also provide invaluable tips for a true insider’s perspective from decades of experience living and recreating around the area.
River Retreat Lodge aims to be a guest’s oasis while they’re traveling and on vacation.
Getting to Yellowstone National Park’s western entrance from the lodge can be accomplished in roughly two-and-one-half hours, the same drive-time it takes to arrive at the southern entrance to the park near Jackson from the B&B.
“But you avoid the heavy tourist traffic in and around Jackson,” Liz said.
“It’s still a beautiful drive — maybe more so than going through Grand Teton National Park to reach Yellowstone,” Liz continued. “You can then loop around Yellowstone to end up in Jackson, spend some time there, and come back here to your private retreat.”
Liz said she wants River Retreat Lodge to be a guest’s oasis while they’re traveling and on vacation.
People have said to her: “This is the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years and the best food I’ve had in years.” That’s quite a compliment.
New for summer 2022 will be a gazebo in the yard just outside the lodge for weddings and in the back of the property, there will be a large tent for wedding receptions.
To book your stay — whether just for a couple, a small group of friends, a family, a work retreat or another large group — call 307-248-3864 or visit riverretreatlodge.com.