Sorry for taking so long to reply to this. I've been skiing the last few days and not checking Epic very much.
You've already received a lot of good advice, but I'll chime in as well because I actually sell real estate here in JH. As a matter of fact, part of what I do is in competition with the Teton Club. I work for the Four Seasons and we offer outright ownership of several kinds of condos (price range $1.95 to $5.4 million) as well as fractional ownership of furnished two and three-bedroom condos (fractional prices range from $169,500 to $469,00).
Having gotten that out of the way, I'll make a couple of comments.
First off, I think fractional ownership at Teton Club (or Four Seasons, for that matter) is a very smart way to go for a certain kind of buyer.
The units at Teton Club are very, very nice and the building is very convenient to the JH slopes.
Fractional ownership is all about amenities and thought-free vacations. In most of today's lifestyles, vacation time is so precious for many families that it can be a huge issue to have to worry about all the things that go with outright ownership of a second home (condo or freestanding). Mechanical, plumbing, roofing, maintenance, snow-removal, etc can all place a pretty significant burden on the owner and have a very negative impact of the enjoyment of the vacation.
Fractional ownership takes almost all of those issues away. You figure out when you're going to visit and someone else takes care of all the day-to-day management issues.
That freedom comes with a price, of course. Teton Club has an excellent location, great condos, and lots of nice amenities that make your visit more comfortable. Our property has spectacular outdoor pool and hot tub areas, aerobics machines, weight room, exercise classroom, three onsite restaurants/bars, 24-hour room service, ski concierge, kids' game room, world-class spa, and a location that is literally steps from the main lifts. All of that (in both properties) can add immeasurably to the enjoyment of a ski or summer vacation, but it costs a lot of money to provide.
Many people who are unfamiliar with the concept will run some math in their heads and decide the concept is not for them. They don't need the perfect location or the added amenities. That's fine, nothing wrong with that. But other families will look at how relaxing and refreshing a vacation like this can be and decide that there's a lot of value to the fractional concept.
Going back to the Teton Club, you may or may not be aware that they *already* went bankrupt. They operated under Chapter 11 for about a year and have now come out of bankruptcy well-funded and without significant "special assessments" on the existing condo owners. During the entire time they were in bankruptcy, they were operating as usual and their owners and guests were experiencing great vacations. I have several friends who own interests at Teton Club and they love it.
So, how do you decide if you're the "right kind of buyer"?
Think about how much time you want to spend in Jackson Hole and during which seasons. The exchange options that Teton Club (and Four Seasons) offer are a nice perc, but you should really be thinking that Jackson Hole is your preferred destination for most of your time at a property such as this.
Think about how important the location and amenities are to you. Trouthead's suggestion of outright ownership of a condo here is JH is certainly a good one to consider. To get the kind of amenities and location you're looking at, however, you'd be looking at some very expensive condos. Most of the condo projects in JH don't offer the kind of amenities available at Teton Club or Four Seasons, and most projects are *far* less convenient in terms of how you get to the lifts.
Think about how inclined you are to deal with the upkeep and upgrade issues of owning a condo outright. If you own it, are you going to try to rent it while you're not here? If you rent it, are you going to do short-term or long-term? If you do short-term, are you *truly* aware of how much abuse a property like that gets from ski vacationers? Also, if you do short-term, do you understand that the times you might really like to use it yourself (say, Christmas and President's week and kids' spring breaks) are exactly the times it's most likely to be rented. I ask these not so much to discourage you as to help make sure that you would know what you're getting into. Also, be very, very wary of rental income projections on a condo you would own outright. Typically, you wouldn't want to count on too much net rental income to help pay the mortgage/taxes/condo fees, etc.
So, my conclusion would be that you should at least consider fractional ownership at the Teton Club. Check to see how the pricing works, what times you would have to use your residence, what sorts of amenities are provided and how much the annual homeowners' fees have increased over the years. Compare what you get with what you might have if you purchase a condo outright. Give a lot of thought to how much you and your family will visit Jackson Hole and how that pattern might change as the years go by. One strategy or the other will eventually become obvious.
And lastly, I can also make a suggestion on a real estate broker here in Jackson (other than me, of course - I would only be in the picture if you wanted to look at something in the Four Seasons). He's a third-generation Jackson Hole native and knows as much about property in this valley as anyone. He acts as a Buyer's Broker, which can be a very significant advantage to you as the buyer. I refer a lot of people to him and they've been very happy with his integrity and professionalism. That, and he can ski like almost no one you're ever seen.
So, good luck with the process. I always love to see people making that leap to become property owners here in Jackson Hole.