Montana Reflection #2 – Transportation and Lodging

The marketer in me thinks this title is a tad blah…I’ll have to spice up my titles in the future!  But, I promised to share about these two topics, and I keep my promises!  And you will want to know about our lodging…because our hotel was a repeater for sure!

TRANSPORTATION

There is not much to say about this except: 1) Flying direct is nice; 2) Be kind to the rental car agent; and 3) We were very lucky with our travel weather.

On our way to Montana, we flew direct to Bozeman at 7:30am.  It was WAY oversold and if we had given up our seats and flown later, we could have made $3000.  My heart still mourns the missed opportunity.  But our trip was short and we didn’t want miss a day of skiing (nor have an 18 hour travel day).  In hindsight, we made the right choice, as painful as it was to pass up the cash.

I understand why the flight was oversold.  In less than three hours we landed in Bozeman.  The flight in was gorgeous.  Hot tip…get yourself a window seat.

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View as we landed in Bozeman.

We were blessed with safe travel weather both ways.  The crew both directions said that the flight time is padded for icy conditions and poor visibility.  The fact that we arrived on time meant we were lucky.  But I would hope that anyone who flies in the winter expects that delays are part of the deal.

The airport in Bozeman is small and the car rental is inside the building…none of this “take a bus to an offsite location” craziness.  The rental car agent was slow because she was new…the line wasn’t long, but I could tell she was stressed.  Since everything had gone well for us, we were feeling gracious and it paid off.  A little kindness goes a long way when you travel. I have had my fair share of ugly moments, but as I have gotten older and wiser, I have tried to always start with grace…a smile, friendly conversation and good manners.  The manager came and helped our frazzled friend and hooked us up with a large SUV (when I had booked a much smaller one) because he knew we were going “to the mountain.”  Boo-yah!

At first we were a bit concerned we had taken a wrong turn…the airport is actually a few miles west of Bozeman.

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Sorry, couldn’t resist including this photo! This would have been a much different trip!  Haha!

But, once we got on the 191, the drive was super easy.  The highway was wide and lear, and until the last 15 minutes of the one-hour drive, it doesn’t even feel like you are on a mountain road…except for the scenery.

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Driving along the 191 toward Big Sky.

Again, we were very lucky with our travel weather…leaving Bozeman a few days later on Highway 90, we encountered some wind and snow drifts along the road.  We thought they looked super cool, but my cousin, a Montana native, said they are responsible for black ice in certain conditions.  It was sunny that day, so we were fine and enjoying the view!

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Heading east on Highway 90 towards Billings after leaving Big Sky.

While we were in Big Sky, we didn’t even drive our car (largely because where we stayed was so convenient).  If you could find a shuttle to/from the mountain from Bozeman (which I have to imagine they exist), you could probably get away with not having a car.  But, being Californians, we feel lost without our own car.

LODGING

Speaking of lodging, it’s time for me to rave about the place we stayed. We chose The Lodge at Big Sky, which had a top rating on Trip Advisor for Big Sky resorts.  I chose it because it had good value and the website said it was short walking distance from the slope…and it is.  But the walk is essentially in the road…with cars.  We made the walk several times in snow boots and it was fine…there aren’t any sidewalks with all the plowed snow, so everyone walks in the road.  My kids are 11 and 13 so they could handle it fine.  Next time I will bring a flashlight for the dinner walks.  My husband and older daughter made the walk more than once in ski boots (skis checked at the valet…see my previous post) and they said it was not a big deal.  I am too much of a wimp to walk that far in ski boots.

But, my carriage awaited!  They have a SUPER convenient shuttle that runs from 8:30 to 10:30am and 3:00 to 5:00pm for wimps like me!  It drops off/picks up right at the Mountain Mall/Basecamp entrance.  If the shuttle is full, they will come back around for you…you will not be left in the cold my friend!

There was so much more to like about this hotel.  The staff was super friendly.  The manager is very efficient and professional.  The common room is cozy with big leather couches and a fireplace.  An outdoor patio has a fire pit as well.  They have indoor and outdoor jacuzzis and an indoor pool, and while none of them is the height of luxury, my kids really enjoyed being able to swim after a day of skiing.

The rooms were ginormous compared to our expectations.  We had a beautiful view, two queen beds, a sitting area and a kitchenette (full size fridge, microwave and two electric burners…all the dishes, etc.) for $299 a night.  That was a high-season rate.  My only critique on the room was the lighting.  The ceilings are high so our lamps didn’t quite do the trick.

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View from our room…early morning with the moon still high in the sky.

They offer free continental breakfast in the morning.  It’s not fancy, but it has cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, muffins/bagels/toast.  They have hot options, the only one of which we ate were the pancakes (two thumbs up).  I will say that I will bring my own Starbucks Via instant coffee next time…but I am a coffee snob.  It is truly the kind of place where you can go to breakfast in your flannel jammies and not be alone.

They have daily Happy Hour fro 4:30 -6:30 and they have nachos (think ball park, not high-end mexican restaurant) and s’more kits.  Seth, the bartender, is the bomb!  He was so friendly and helpful and made happy hour happier.  The girls LOVED making their s’mores too!

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In the main room at The Lodge at Big Sky. We roasted the marshmallows outside with the snow falling and came indoors to enjoy!

Now while The Summit and Huntley hotels were literally steps aways from the lift, the shuttle, the people and atmosphere the Lodge at Big Sky made it a great stay.  We can’t wait to return!

Stay tuned for my third post about the mountain and our ski days!

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