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How One Resort Is Changing the Montana Ski Scene in Just Its Second Season on the Slopes

BY: Vanessa Wilkins | MARCH 22, 2023

Perched on 3,530 acres of Montana’s Spanish Peaks mountain range, Montage Big Sky has managed to swiftly redefine luxury skiing in the area since opening in December 2021.

Checking into Montage Big Sky this past December, I was immediately blown away by the resort’s design. Natural wood and stone blend seamlessly with modern touches to create a charming and sophisticated mountain retreat just an hour south of Bozeman. The resort boasts 139 guest rooms, suites, and residences, and oversized windows throughout the property ensure that guests can enjoy the breathtaking peaks towering in the distance. If my entire time at Montage Big Sky had been spent in just the lobby and my guest room, I would have walked away raving about the experience. However, the rooms are just the start of what makes the resort so special, and my adventure was just getting started.

There are a myriad of winter activities to choose from at Montage Big Sky from November through April. Guests can enjoy a classic ski day with ski-in/ski-out access to Big Sky Resort, but Montage also offers snowshoeing, tubing, and even ice skating for those looking for something different to try during their stay. Even just exploring the hotel is an activity in itself — from the artwork by local creators, to the on-site boutiques and bar and lounge areas, to the bowling alley. I was excited to experience as much as possible, but my first priority was taking advantage of the clear skies and pristine slopes with a beginner ski lesson.

As it was only my second time skiing, Montage Big Sky helped craft the perfect ski itinerary for my novice skill level. After getting fitted for boots and skis at the on-site outfitter Compass Sports, I warmed up with a private coach on the magic carpet just outside the resort, practicing my turns, speeding up and slowing down, and most importantly, making sure I was able to stop. After my refresher course, we headed up the chairlift to ski a short blue run on the beautiful Lone Peak. The snow-capped skyline views alone made the adventure worthwhile; looking up at this monstrous natural wonder reminded me how big and beautiful this world is, and how fun it is to explore it and try new things (even when I’m not very good at them).

After a hearty lunch stop at Everett’s 8800, Montage Big Sky arranged for its complimentary Cadillac service to pick me up and drive me back to the hotel instead of having me ski back, which was a bit above my level. It was a much-appreciated personalized touch and another example of how the property caters to all experience levels and individual needs.

As much as I enjoy channeling my adventurous side on the slopes, I have to admit that my favorite part of a ski vacation has been learning the art of après-ski, and Montage Big Sky perfected its après-ski offerings this winter with the opening of newest dining concept La Grand Après at Backcast. The chic outdoor dining space and champagne bar features elevated mountain cuisine and the best of the bubbly, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame.

During my visit, which marked both the launch of La Grande Dame 2015 and the celebration of Veuve Clicquot’s 250th anniversary, guests indulged in stunning seafood towers, tasty sliders, pumpkin fondue, and a cinnamon roll that I still dream about today. To wash down the delicious bites, Oscar Chinchilla, the director of beverage at Montage Big Sky, took us through a remarkable wine flight of Veuve Clicquot treasures. Finally, a saber demonstration on a bottle of La Grande Dame topped off the lavish affair as my fellow guests and I toasted to a fabulous opening.

La Grand Après at Backcast was idyllic for a post-ski jaunt after a morning on the slopes, but the magnificent cuisine options only continued inside the resort. Every morning I headed to the Wildflower Market, where I picked up a flaky pastry and warm latte for breakfast, and for dinner I enjoyed a state-of-the-art dining experience at the resort’s signature restaurant, Cortina. I was treated to mouth-watering Sicilian scallop crudo, rack of venison, and tiramisu, as traditional Italian cuisine was expertly prepared with a Montana flair. It’s no surprise that the eatery picked up an Editor’s Pick Award for Outlaw Partner’s Best Restaurant in Big Sky 2022 the weekend I happened to visit.

As someone who is new to ski-centric travel, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the luxury ski experience. But the beauty of Montage Big Sky is that you don’t have to be an expert to know it when you see it — the resort has created the ideal ski vacation for every type of traveler, no matter their experience level on the slopes. From the adventure-seeker who wants to spend all day in the snow, to the guest who is just there to “après and chill,” and everyone in between, Montage’s definition of luxury is fulfilling whatever unique vision you have for your visit. The emphasis on creating a personalized experience for every guest is what puts this resort in its own category of excellence, and what made my experience unforgettable.

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Photograph by Jonathan Finch
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