The most desired element in luxury second homes


Second homes are the stuff of fantasy. Not a necessity like primary residences, they are often expressions of the ways owners love to spend their free time, whether it be in a pied-a-terre near the theatre, opera, museums and other attractions urban homes, a home on a secluded stretch of beach, an island getaway, a luxurious golf-course condo, or a multi-generational hangout near the ski lifts. Whichever vacation home a family chooses says a lot about what they appreciate in their free time.

As we’ve been isolated and confined by a troubling new pandemic, one undeniable trend has risen to the top of real estate wish lists: We crave nature.

If we live in cities, we try to find places where we can walk, breathe fresh air, maintain a garden, and maybe even watch wildlife. If we can, we buy a second home that offers all of this, with space to gather during school holidays. The most desirable are second homes that offer the comforts of five-star resorts, married with a private and understated sensibility.


The place that checks all those boxes and more is Tributary, Idaho’s 1,500-acre private club that grows on the west side of the Grand Teton Mountains. A four-season community, Tributary is part of the 15-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the world’s most intact ecological landscapes and the only wildlife habitat in the US in which every species that once existed before the arrival of Europeans still live.

The development now called Tributary began when members of the Annenberg family purchased land nestled between the Grand Tetons, the Big Hole Mountains, and the Snake River Range, with spectacular views of all those mountains. The 2008 real estate collapse put an end to the family’s plans and the property was sold, but not before the Annenbergs built a two-mile elevated boardwalk on nearly 500 acres of wetlands designated as swamps, operated and managed by Teton Regional. Land. Confidence. These wetlands, ponds, and streams are part of the Tributary community, and the boardwalk is a favorite spot for jogging, wildlife viewing, and strolling.

Construction is proceeding apace, outpaced by rising demand.

“When we started, we built two- and three-bedroom houses,” says Jeff Heilbrun, director of real estate. “We soon learned that our clients wanted vacation homes that were attractive for all seasons. Now we are building five- and six-bedroom houses, and we can’t build them fast enough.”

The modern homes, outfitted with high-end elements like Wolf stoves, Sub Zero refrigerators, hardwood floors, remotely operated blackout curtains and luxurious spa baths, are designed by Northworks, a national design firm based in Chicago with offices in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When completed, Tributary will offer 350 homes, all with extraordinary views. There’s also a five-acre pond, clubhouse, spa, David McLay-Kidd-designed 18-hole championship golf course, and access to countless outdoor activities. These include fly fishing, hiking, national parks, biking, snowmobiling, boating, Nordic and downhill skiing.

Single-family home prices in Tributary start at $2.25 million. It is equidistant between the Jackson Hole Airport and the Idaho Falls Regional Airport. Teton Aviation Center, a full service FBO, is also very close to Tributary.

Individual home sites are also available for those who prefer to bring their own architect, designer and builder (subject to design review approval).

Less than 30 minutes from Tributary’s main entrance is Grand Targhee, a 2,600-acre, intermediate-level, powder-rich ski resort founded in 1969 by Teton Valley potato farmers and ranchers. Tributary membership includes transportation to Targhee, a private clubhouse at the mountain base lodge, refreshments, and ski concierge service.

“People who buy property here love nature, want to be outdoors at all times of the year, and want the luxury and amenities you get in a top-tier private club,” says Heilbrun. “But unlike the other side of the pass in Jackson, Wyoming, this is what the locals refer to as ‘the quiet side.’ We have the same easy access to the national parks, but without the crowds.”

The closest city to Tributary is Driggs, Idaho, a charming and historic mountain town; it is a short walk to the center of town. Further down the road is Víctor, another mountain town with enormous charm.

In the shadow of those authentic communities, without the inflated costs and crowded streets found in Jackson, Tributary blends into the surrounding nature modestly. This truly is a place where luxury means being able to recreate yourself in some of the most spectacular natural lands still found in the United States today.