Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery, right? Jackson Hole, Wyo. better hope that’s the case as Jackson Hole, China, a wild west-themed resort town immediately captured the imagination and attention of Chinese citizens. Beijing Resplendency Great Exploit Real Estate Co. LTD hired Portland, Ore. interior designer Allison Smith to help design the town, and the Jackson Hole News and Guide just happened to talk to Smith about the experience. So how exactly did China come to create a western-themed resort town also called Jackson Hole? From the News and Guide:
“They had a couple of oddly designed homes that were trying to be Americanized,” Smith said, “but they were really off the mark. They asked me what my opinion was, and I was very diplomatic, but I said some things need to be changed.”
Smith and the developers lined up at the drawing board, where she spent a week listing some successful, popular resort communities in the United States and sketching out the feel of each one: Martha’s Vineyard, Vail, Jackson Hole.
“They absolutely fell in love with the idea of anything cowboy and Indian,” Smith said. “It just took off.”
In order to make the Chinese Jackson Hole anything like the American Jackson Hole, Smith shopped around Oregon for things like cow hides, antler chandeliers, Navajo blankets and Charles Russell prints. The first model for the new Jackson Hole was put up in a Beijing park and people apparently went nuts for it. Smith said the Chinese associate the American west with freedom and excitement. Nothing of that style really exists in China, so the idea is novel and intriguing to the Chinese. Now, the homes in Jackson Hole, China have all sold out and even tripled in value since being built.
But according to Smith, the Chinese Jackson Hole is just all fun and games.
“They’re very serious people,” Smith said. “They spend so much time processing how to be successful. This is whimsy, fun, they’ve seen it in movies. You should see them when they get a toy gun to play with.”
Who knows what other “wild west” towns China will steal up next! Maybe Idaho is even on the docket. Care to visit Soda Springs, China, anyone?
Check out a whole slide show of photos from Jackson Hole, China over at Foreign Policy. Oh, it’s worth it.