High in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, nestled in a dramatic, impossibly scenic valley between the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, Brooks Lake Lodge and Spa has been entertaining guests since it opened on July 4th, 1922. They come to hike the Continental Divide, fly fish for trout, canoe on Brooks Lake and ride horses into the surrounding wilderness. There are overnight hunting trips via horseback, archery ranges, hot stone massages and other spa treatments and, in the winter, snowmobiling and skiing. Three meals plus afternoon tea nourish the body and bolster the spirit in an intimate, luxurious environment that never houses more than 36 guests in the main lodge and in a cluster of surrounding log cabins. While the scenery is wild, the food and the lodgings are the epitome of civilization, featuring superb gourmet delicacies and fine linens.
Now Brooks Lake Lodge and Spa is for sale for $10.9 Million, a reluctant offer on the part of its owner, Max C. Chapman Jr. The former president and CEO of Kidder, Peabody & Co. and chairman of Nomura Holding America and Nomura Europe Holding has owned the lodge for 20years, during which time he built the spa. He has continued the lodge’s use as a guest resort while also using it as an extended-family getaway destination. He lives in Houston and Jackson, Wyoming.
“I also own Snow King, the ski area in Jackson,” Chapman says. “I’m in the midst of a major re-do of the mountain and have to focus my efforts on that. So, for the right buyer, the lodge is for sale.
“Brooks Lake is not big enough to be a major commercial enterprise, but it is a place where the family can gather for reunions while the place pays for itself. There are no property taxes and there is no competition,” he adds.
The property is located in the Shoshone National Forest; Chapman leases 25 acres from the National Forest Service via a 20-year lease. The forest service lease requires that there be public use of the property for 90 days of the year.
“Right now, between our summer and winter seasons, we do about twice that,” says general manager Matthew Tousignant. “The lodge is that rare combination of big enough to host paying guests, but small enough to serve a family for a vacation. The paying guests underwrite the costs of ownership.”
He expands on Chapman’s contention that the place requires the right owner.
“It’s a truly special place surrounded by great natural beauty, but it’s five miles off the paved road and, in winter, only accessible via snowmobile or snow cat. We harvest our own water and the historic buildings do require maintenance in these extreme conditions.”
Beside the enormous, cruciform-shaped main lodge, there are eight guest cabins, the spa, four employee housing cabins, a stables complex and assorted utility buildings and sheds. All are constructed of the local lodgepole pine, with Craftsman detailing.
“This is a place I bought sentimentally, just because it’s so beautiful,” Chapman says. “That’s how I hope the next owner approaches it.
“Before I began work at Snow King, I had plans to build an observatory at the lodge. The plans were approved, but now I’ll put the observatory at the top of the mountain at Snow King. But the clear night sky is a great draw at Brooks Lake, and I know an observatory would provide another popular activity.”
Every afternoon, when the day’s trail rides are done, the forty horses in the corrals surrounding the stables are driven to their grazing grounds beyond Brooks Lake. Viewed from the lodge terrace, the sight of the running horses is stirring and wild, another beautiful element in a stirring and wild place.