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Wonderful Wilderness

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THE CLUB AT SPANISH PEAKS OFFERS BIG FUN IN BIG SKY

Big Sky, Montana: Pure and simple. Natural and unspoiled. The quintessential American wilderness. Roughly four million acres of National Forest, designated wilderness and national parks define Big Sky and in the midst of this gem of unblemished wild country sits The Club at Spanish Peaks. The Club is a 5,700-acre private enclave in a very privileged neighborhood; however, make no mistake, every visitor to this amazing resort will receive a genuine Montana experience, unpretentious and authentic, even down to the architecture and amenities.

Geographically, it is sheer isolation — with easy access. To the west stretches the vast Lee-Metcalf Wilderness. To the south awaits the awe-inspiring grandeur of Yellowstone National Park, to the north the Gallatin National Forest and the Spanish Peaks, and right next door, one private lift away, the largest and tallest ski terrain in the U.S. — Big Sky Resort. Yet, less than an hour from the Bozeman airport, The Club at Spanish Peaks is easy to reach. Guests and homeowners agree: this place is impossible to forget for several reasons.

One of the best is the skiing. Not only do these slopes rival anything you’ve ever experienced at your favorite ski resort, many believe it is better. For one thing, Big Sky skiing is less crowded. A ski pass here gets you more skiable acreage with a lighter population of skiers than anywhere in the United States. To put things in perspective, on a big day, Vail may have 25,000 skiers vying for space on the slopes; Big Sky (on its biggest day) will have perhaps 5,000 skiers on more skiable acreage.

Additionally, the slopes are phenomenal, and there are runs for every level of ability. Unlike many popular resorts, here you’ll find tons of beginner and intermediate slopes — boulevards and long runs that are wide open and packed with great powder. Advanced skiers won’t be disappointed either. Plenty of challenging black slopes with twists and turns and moguls and jumps allow chances to catch plenty of air.

If you love golf as much as skiing, don’t worry. You won’t have to split your passions. The Club at Spanish Peaks offers you opportunities to nurture both. Course designer Tom Weiskopf declares the course at Spanish Peaks “golf in a true alpine environment.” By design and by virtue of the gently rolling alpine meadows, the course has become one of the best in the Rocky Mountains. Travel and Leisure Golf ranked the course No. 7 in its 2009 January/ February issue; Golf Digest ranked the course No. 1 in Montana as voted by the magazine’s course panelists; Golf Digest ranked The Club at Spanish Peaks No. 2 in the country for best new private golf courses for 2009.

The consensus speaks volumes, and when you play the course, you’ll understand the buzz. Fairways transition beautifully to flowering alpine meadows. Most holes are free of home sites, providing pristine, 40-mile views. Once you take your eyes off the view and concentrate on the game, you’ll find a par-72, 7,200-yard course that is both challenging and infinitely enjoyable for players of all abilities.

In addition to offering one of Montana’s very best skiing/golf/sporting club experiences, Big Sky’s Spanish Peaks community is also one of the few private operators licensed to take guests overnight into nearby Yellowstone National Park on horseback. Book a two-, three- or four-night trip into the backcountry of Yellowstone where less than one-tenth of 1 percent of tourists to Yellowstone ever visit. You will venture deep into the national park guided by the trusted, knowledgeable staff of Spanish Peaks.

Developer Dean Genge admits that Spanish Peaks is a unique place due to its popularity with families and its unpretentious approach to resort vacations and resort living. Given the variety of activities that are available, this is no surprise. Genge says, “Authenticity and unpretentiousness have been the bedrock values of this community from its inception, and all of our members reflect these values. Though our members are all accomplished and successful in their own right, each is dedicated to preserving the core experience, which is a focus on family.”

“The Club at Spanish Peaks,” Genge continues, “is luxurious and well-appointed by anyone’s definition, but it’s also calmer than many comparable destinations — less society, yet more social; a good feeling place; not to see and be seen, but to go and have a great family vacation.”

Luxurious and well appointed, it is. The architecture of the community is consistent and reminiscent of old, northern, Rocky Mountain lodges. Genge stresses, “Not faux European or hi-rise stacked condominiums, but very much a log and timber stone expression.” The buildings are meant to be indigenous and grounded, as if they sprung up organically, and the central gathering place of the community is the 32,000- square-foot clubhouse. The ultimate in mountain retreat convenience, booking a suite in the clubhouse lets you play all day to your heart’s content, with the knowledge that when you are done, you are only steps away from a snug and peaceful night’s sleep. Both grand and grounded, the clubhouse sets the tone of the Spanish Peaks lifestyle.

You can simply sink into one of the sumptuous leather chairs overlooking the Spanish Peaks mountain range after a thrilling day outdoors. Or you may choose to stop by for some “19th hole” story-swapping in the handsome lounge. Need some gear? Visit the sports shop for the latest equipment and apparel. It’s all right here, your own private sanctuary just a few steps from the high-speed quad and the 18th green.

If you desire more private lodging opportunities, there are homes on the property and each is privately owned, with many available for rental. Currently, a number of cabins are scattered throughout the private valley, ranging in size from three to six bedrooms. Additionally, there are custom homes available for sale or rental — up to seven bedrooms — for large family gatherings. Each single-family residence is convenient to the clubhouse and ski lifts, and each is beautifully and lavishly appointed.

Of course, if you are staying in a home, you may choose to dine in; however, should you decide to take the family out for dinner, you have equally inviting options. The Clubhouse offers casual fare in the Pub or mouth-watering alpine cuisine in the Main Dining Room. For a distinctive evening, gather your group and dine in the Clubhouse Wine Room, a 1,300-bottle wine cellar and tasting room.

For the more adventurous, Sacajawea Camp, located at the bottom of Big Sky’s ski terrain, is a sanctuary. The yurt-style mountain camp has warm fireplaces, comfy leather couches and first-class, on-mountain dining. While it may seem
surprising that such fine cuisine can be presented in the wilderness, the Sacajawea Camp staff puts together perfection. Also, getting there is half the fun. Four draft horses pull sleighs full of hungry riders to and from the site with bells jingling and the Milky Way zooming overhead down the tree-lined ride. No wonder Sacajawea Camp is a favorite!

Obviously The Club at Spanish Peaks offers a great family vacation experience — one that is truly unique. However, it is above all a private club and visitation is exclusive to members, guests of members or guests of the club. If you are interested in learning more about the lifestyle opportunities of this wonderful wild wilderness retreat, contact The Club directly and obtain an invitation to visit.

For more information, call 406-993-5400 or  visit www.spanish-peaks.com.

By Cheryl Alexander

Cabin living room

Sleighride

Clubhouse entry interior

Signature Weiskopf golf course


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