Category Archives: Unique Venues

TOP 7 MEETING PLANNER QUESTIONS ABOUT WESTERN MONTANA

Meeting planners are looking for new destinations that offer experiential components to drive attendance, engagement and leave a lasting impression. Hello, Montana! I’ve gathered the top seven most frequently asked questions by meeting planners who have never been to Montana, about meeting in Montana, and why choosing Western Montana as a meetings destination is the right decision.

The perfect backdrop for a Montana dinner event.

Q: My attendees/clients are looking for more experiential destinations; what can Western Montana’s Glacier Country offer for offsite experiences?

A: Adding an outdoor adventure to your next meeting agenda in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is easy when you utilize Montana’s most notable and stunning adventure assets—rivers, mountains and lakes—along with the services of professional guides and outfitters. Whether the group wants have their own rodeo at a local arena or take a trail ride by horseback near Kalispell (read more about meetings in Kalispell here), a mountain biking excursion in Whitefish, float the Alberton Gorge near Missoula (learn more about meeting in Missoula here) or take a guided hike through Glacier National Park, Western Montana has professional, experienced and well-equipped guides to make group adventures easy, safe, educational and a whole lot of fun.

A group rafts the Middle Fork of the Flathead River.

Meeting attendees enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride.

For other experiential adventures, here is a partial list; you choose the fun. When in season, pick sweet Flathead cherries from an orchard. Ride the alpine slide or take a gondola ride for spectacular views at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Cast a line into a blue-ribbon trout stream. Soak in a hot spring. Stand-up paddleboard or kayak on the largest freshwater lake in the West—Flathead Lake. Personalize a Glacier National Park trip with The Glacier Institute. Set up a tour and meet with an actual smokejumper and see what he/she wears when parachuting in to fight a wildfire. Enjoy a historical walking/architecture tour. Take in a small-town rodeo. Mine for sapphires. Experience a Broadway-caliber theater performance. Visit a local Flathead Valley lavender farm and make lavender sachets or lemonade. Meet and listen to a cowboy poet. Learn to line dance. Talk with a wrangler at a chuckwagon dinner. The list goes on. In fact, here are 102 things to do.

Create your own rodeo along with line dancing lessons in a horse arena.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

Chuckwagon dinners where farm to table food is served at every meal.

Q: Montana seems to be a little more difficult to get to; how would my attendees get there, and which airports would they fly into?

A: Traveling to Montana is easier than you might think. There are two airports servicing Western Montana’s Glacier Country – Missoula International Airport (MSO) and Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) in Kalispell—offering 13 direct flights from six major airline carriers. Once on the ground it takes between five and 15 minutes to get to the majority of the convention hotels located in Western Montana—most of them offering free shuttles. Montana also has train service (Amtrak’s Empire Builder) that runs from Chicago in the Midwest to Seattle and Portland on the West Coast with stops at seven stations in Western Montana, Whitefish being the most notable for meetings. If driving or needing car rentals, our well-maintained highway system offers virtually traffic free travel. Interstate 90 runs east and west through our region, and U.S. Highway 93 runs north and south.

Empire Builder near Glacier National Park. Photo: Amtrak.

Q: How expensive is the airfare to fly into Montana?

A: According to the most recent data released from the Bureau of Transportation Services flying into or out of Missoula International Airport based on average ticket prices are the lowest in the state of Montana with an average fare at $406. Flying into or out of Glacier Park International is slightly higher. American Airlines began service to Western Montana last year and, with the increased competition, ticket prices from Delta, Frontier, United and Alaska airlines have decreased substantially.

Fly direct from Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles on American Airlines. Photo: American Airlines

Q: My clients want four- or five-star properties only; do you have those?

A: The simple answer is YES. We have some of the world’s finest luxury guest ranches that are perfect for retreats, executive board meetings and corporate incentive travel programs offering one-of-a-kind experiences. Triple Creek Ranch, located in Darby, is a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux properties and caters to adults only. The Ranch at Rock Creek, located in Philipsburg, is the world’s first Forbes five-star guest ranch resort and offers world-class experiences. The largest guest ranch in Western Montana is The Resort at Paws Up, located on 37,000 acres just east of Missoula in Greenough and offers luxurious riverside glamping along with lavish guest homes and à la carte activities for up to 200 guests. Located in Whitefish, The Lodge at Whitefish Lake is the only four-star hotel resort in Montana.

The Ranch at Rock Creek’s Buckle Barn.

Sit fireside at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish.

Glamping and making s’mores around the fire at Resort at Paws Up.

While not rated by Forbes, other notable retreat locations that will give your attendees all the Montana feels include Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, Wilderness Club located in Eureka, Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort located in Paradise, and Dancing Spirit Lodge in Columbia Falls. If a smaller lodge retreat is what you’re after, consider Laughing Horse Lodge in Swan Lake, or Hidden Moose Lodge and Kandahar Lodge in Whitefish. For a more downtown retreat, stay at the new Residence Inn by Marriott at the Mercantile in downtown Missoula, surrounded by boutiques, cafés, breweries, distilleries and fine dining options.

Guests can relax around the stone fireplace at Hidden Moose Lodge.

Private entrances amid the blossoms in the central garden at Laughing Horse Lodge.

Q: How large is the convention center in Western Montana?

A: Western Montana does not have your typical convention center with a hotel attached, however, we do have significant ballroom and flexible breakout space at convention hotels located in our larger cities of KalispellMissoula and Whitefish. Missoula boasts the largest meeting space in the region, with 33,400 square feet of flexible space at the University of Montana along with a full convention services staff to make the conference easy. Missoula’s largest convention hotel, which is a Hilton property has 22,000 square feet of flexible space. Kalispell’s largest convention hotel, again a Hilton property, offers 14,000 square feet of function space, while Whitefish has two convention hotels—The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and Grouse Mountain Lodge, with roughly 11,000 square feet of space at both properties. Visit our meetings website to see more options.

Choose from unique to conventional meeting spaces.

Q: Montana seems remote; do you have all the modern conveniences we need for a conference?

A: Western Montana has all the modern technology and conveniences without the spendy price tag found in tier one and two cities. Transportation: Most convention hotels offer free shuttle services from the airport and free parking for those renting or driving a car. Uber and Lyft ridesharing services are available. Wi-Fi is offered free in guest rooms and some conference spaces along with affordable rates on AV and video conferencing needs. Attendees don’t have to pay extra for business centers, fitness centers or pools. There is no statewide sales tax in Montana, so that final BEO will only have a service charge not additional taxes on food, AV or meeting services (note: Whitefish has is a 3% resort tax). BONUS: Montana’s lodging tax is 7% currently (8% starting January 2020), which is half of some of our neighboring states.

The food is what surprises people the most about Montana. It is tremendous.

Q: Do you have a DMC (Destination Management Company) in Western Montana to help with my all my meeting planning needs on-site?

A: Yes, we do. MNW Destinations is located in Western Montana but also helps plan conferences all over the country. They have offices in the Flathead Valley (covering Kalispell, Whitefish and Bigfork) and in Missoula. They specialize in helping companies and associations pull off the perfect Montana meeting.

An outdoor dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. For more information on pre and post itineraries or if you need additional information, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,
DP

REFLECTING ON 2018 IN WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

As a new year approaches, it’s always fun to look back and reflect on the past year in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. We have had a wonderful year working with professional businesses from around the globe. It’s been a pleasure to help develop suggested itineraries for motorcoach tours wanting to showcase the history and early settlement of the West in Montana and find that perfect rodeo for their group to attend while in the region. Unique lodging options for the international visitor is a request we often receive. Accommodating with a teepee, treehouse, cabin in the woods, lakeside lodge or luxury guest ranch has been a joy. Introducing that perfect meeting space, offsite venue and activity to meeting planners and hearing them say, “This place is so beautiful, our attendees are going to love the authentic experience here,” is very heartwarming. We’ve held FAMs throughout the region, and when asked what surprised those visitors most about Western Montana—besides our stunning scenery and warm hospitality—it’s our amazing culinary scene that seems to rise to the top. Reflecting back on a great 2018, we’d like to say thank you to all who shared in the fun.

A FAM trip out to Glacier National Park with some of our closest international friends.

Line dancing lessons in a horse arena? Yes please.

Horseback riding with Triple Creek Ranch in the Bitterroot Mountains.

Touring the Smokejumpers Visitor Center in Missoula.

Introducing fly fishing to these visitors on the Bitterroot River.

Horse-drawn sleigh rides at Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake with warm blankets followed by hot cocoa.

A perfect golf morning at Wilderness Club resort in Eureka.

Floating down the Clark Fork through the heart of Missoula with River City Brews Rafting Tours.

Our guests are ready for an outdoor dinner at the Conrad Mansion Museum in Kalispell.

A quick canoe paddle from Apgar Village in Glacier National Park.

Our red bus was ready to take us to see the scenery in Glacier.

Hello, gorgeous Glacier National Park.

The grand Glacier Park Lodge is a must see and/or stay while on the east side of Glacier.

TeePee stays on the Blackfeet Nation along Lower St. Mary Lake with stunning views of Glacier National Park.

Soaking up the sun aboard the DeSmet on Lake McDonald in Glacier.

Thanks, 2018, for a beautiful year, and here’s to an amazing 2019. Drop me a line if you need assistance in Western Montanan’s Glacier Country—I am always here to help.

DP

ADDING TOUR OPTIONS TO YOUR GLACIER NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY

As tour operators plan for their next warm-weather tour into Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we’ve highlighted a few tour options that tend to fly under the radar. When visiting Western Montana, we know that Glacier National Park is a bucket list destination, and most visitors coming to Glacier Country have at least a couple days planned to see the sights in the Crown of the Continent. If your itinerary allows, we’ve included a few more options in the Flathead Valley that can be added to any itinerary, especially for the less active or senior motorcoach tour.

Climb aboard a red bus in Glacier National Park.

Purple Mountain Lavender
Tour the grounds of Purple Mountain Lavender just above Flathead Lake in Lakeside, Montana, featuring more than 1,000 lavender plants of 25 different varieties all grown in a chemical-free environment. Take in the breathtaking views of the Flathead Valley and learn about all the different uses for lavender—from oil distillation and cooking, to drying for arrangements. If your itinerary schedule is tight and you’d rather have a class brought to your group, they are available at your hotel location and are great fun for men and woman alike. Deb—the owner—will introduce you to lavender cookies, lemonade and show you how to make lavender sachets so you can take some Montana lavender home with you.
May – October

The views of Flathead Lake from Purple Mountain Lavender.

Walk the lavender fields with 25 different varieties.

Meet Humphrey, Sunshine and Flopsey.

Making lavender sachets to take home.

Kalispell Historic & Cultural Tour
Kalispell Montana is the county seat for the Flathead Valley and has some amazing history just waiting to be explored. Whether you request a step-on guide to board your motorcoach and make your way around Kalispell or you climb aboard a historic trolley for a customized tour, your group is in for a treat. Your guide will help lay out the history of downtown Kalispell and its historic homes and tell the story of the famous people who resided in them. Learn about the founder of Kalispell, William Conrad, and visit the Conrad Mansion Museum built in 1895. The mansion was quite innovative for its time, with a built-in dumbwaiter, fire hoses on every floor and a communication system throughout the house. Take a docent-led tour and learn about the dignitaries who stayed with the Conrad’s over the years. Visit the Hockaday Museum of Art—an original Carnegie Library—a beautiful gallery housing one of the largest collections of art and culture on the Blackfeet Indians and Glacier National Park. Originally built as a schoolhouse, The Museum of Central School in now the home of NW Montana exhibitions and delves into the railroad and logging history of the area.
May – November including a tour of Conrad Mansion

Explore the Conrad Mansion Museum and grounds.

The Hockaday Museum of Art was once a Carnegie Library.

Board a historic trolley for a unique view of Historic Kalispell.

Far West Boat Tours on Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the western United States, capturing the title from Lake Tahoe by a few miles of shoreline. What better way to see this beautiful lake and the magnificent Mission and Swan Mountain ranges than by boat. Book a charter for your group or take advantage of the summer schedule when the boat sets sail daily at 1 p.m. from the dock at the Lakeside Marina on the northeast side of the lake. The daily cruise is narrated by the Far West crew who will explain how the natural lake was carved out by glaciers and that is rated the cleanest lake in the U.S. Plus, they’ll tell you what kind of water species call the lake home. Cruise past the natural islands in the lake, the largest being Wild Horse Island—now a day-use state park—and witness where the Flathead Indians were reported to have pastured their horses to keep them from be stolen by other tribes. There are still a few wild horses on Wild Horse Island, along with bighorn sheep, mule deer and bald eagles. There is a 10% discount for groups over 10 on their daily cruises. For groups wishing to charter the boat, a fully-licensed bar is available and catering services can be arranged.
June – October

Learn about Flathead Lake from the deck of Far West Boat Tours.

Sunset cruise on Flathead Lake.

For more information on additional itinerary suggestions, where to stay, and where to find group-friendly restaurants, visit our tour operators page, or drop me a line. I’m always here to help.

DP

 

GUEST POST: A FEW REASONS TO VISIT ABC ACRES IN WESTERN MONTANA

Amid towering mountain panoramas, alpine lakes and endless wilderness, ABC acres—a vacation farmstead in Western Montana’s Glacier Country—has been named a Top 6 Place to Take the Kids for a Farm Stay by the Travel Channel, and is honored to be part of the Great American Farm Tour 2017 hosted by Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture.

There are many reasons to set your vacation sights this way, but here are just a few.

Views of ABC Acres Farmstead.

Agritourism at Its Finest
Our guests join us on the adventure of growing and raising healthier food options while regenerating the world around us.

ABC acres has created an exciting agritourism service geared toward farm-stay vacations, complete with educational and participatory components for guests to learn about the farmstead’s ongoing regenerative agriculture systems and how that directly benefits the local and global community. Such services include customized farm tours and workshops, self-guided walking maps, strategically located informative kiosks, plus the occasional movie night and Friday social. Guests can accompany farm staff on livestock feeding chores (a kids’ favorite), or experience an even more hands-on “work-along,” for those wanting to get their hands a little dirty.

ABC acres strives to offer visitors a glimpse into an agricultural operation that heals the land, grows strong livestock and provides truly clean and healthy food choices.

Feeding the animals leaves a lasting impression on kids.

Kids will find new best friends on the farm.

Farm Stays, Farm Store and Concierge Services
ABC acres offers two newly-built and very well-appointed homes for their Farm Stays and vacation rentals, with plans in the works to increase lodging capacity. Both homes were constructed with health and wellness in mind. They were built without VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and incorporate non-toxic spray foam insulation, HEPA filtration for high-quality interior air all season long and “alive water” systems to reinvigorate and re-energize water at all points of use, all contributing to the underlying theme of healthy environments, which pervade throughout the farmstead.

While visiting the farm, you may witness things like elk and deer grazing the pastures at dusk, osprey fishing for trout in the waterway and farm staff running pasture irrigation—or any number of the processes that go into the design and earthwork of a fully-functioning permaculture system. It is these on-farm experiences that give staying at ABC acres its uniqueness and charm.

As an additional service, ABC acres’ Farm Stay manager remains available (before and during visits) to answer any questions guests have, assist with local information and planning, and coordinate off-farm activities considering where and what to explore. Beyond a place to simply rest your head, the hospitality of ABC acres is here to enhance the experience for our guests and help them create lasting memories.

ABC acres’ latest announcement is the construction of a new farm stand and gift shop, due to open this spring. Dine on farm-raised goods, purchase farm-related books and toys, take home gifts and apparel for family and friends, or a souvenir to remember your time in Montana.

Pick up fresh goodness like this pickled garlic.

The label says it all about these eggs.

Heart of the Bitterroot Valley
Conveniently located just a few miles south of Hamilton, a short walk to the Bitterroot River and bordered by picturesque farms and public lands, ABC acres provides an idyllic combination of wide-open spaces, wildlife and outdoor adventure, just minutes from this thriving valley’s small-town happenings and city amenities.

Whether you’re looking for mountain biking deep in the forest, hiking any of the numerous trails, canyons and creeks spread throughout the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountain ranges, world-class fly-fishing, skiing, hunting, birding, you name it (not to mention charming mountain towns, historical sites, and local festivals), the Bitterroot Valley has more than its share of adventure and opportunity.

Conveniently located just north of the valley, and within an hour’s drive of ABC acres, is Montana’s second largest city, Missoula, ready to receive travelers from all sides of the globe at its international airport. Missoula is a vibrant city, home to cutting-edge restaurants and breweries, along with a lively nightlife and music scene.

Guests enjoying the view of the Bitterroot Valley from the farmstead.

Enjoy fly fishing or bird watching along the Bitterroot River.

Proximity to Other Regional Wonders
Some people say no Montana vacation is complete without a trip to Glacier National Park, and Yellowstone National Park is a must-see as well. ABC acres happens to be situated between the two, roughly equidistant from both (a four or five-hour drive to either). This offers an excellent opportunity to cover the region, experiencing the best of all worlds.

Montana is known for its many lakes, and just a few hours’ drive north from ABC acres (and en route to Glacier National Park) are two of its finest. Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, surrounded by many small towns and public access points. Picturesque Whitefish Lake sits at the base of Big Mountain, and the resort community of Whitefish boasts an exciting downtown, waterfront hotels and some of the best skiing in the state.

Experience ABC acres and reconnect with the wonders of nature that Montana so abundantly provides.

Greetings from the cattle.

About ABC acres
ABC acres is a Permaculture Farmstead in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Permaculture is a design science that looks to incorporate elements found in natural ecosystems such as diversity, resiliency and stability, and place them into an agricultural system for healthier and more productive results.

Established in the fall of 2012, this family-owned and operated farmstead focuses on sustainable food production, healthy living systems and regenerative ecological design. Our cattle, chickens, goats, turkeys and pigs are out on open pasture, eating, resting and living the way nature intended.

As visitors and Farm Stay guests take in all that ABC acres offers, we hope to stir emotions that create conversation for global change. We are certainly trying to do our part by walking a new walk, and we welcome one and all to our little slice of Montana heaven so that you too can be amazed by the wonder and magic of our natural world.

GUEST POST: DESTINATION ADVENTURE WITH WHITEFISH BIKE RETREAT

Located in beautiful Glacier Country with access to Western Montana’s wilderness right outside our door, Whitefish Bike Retreat offers adventure like no other. Here, our focus is on the bike and the adventure traveler, whether you’re visiting as part of a larger U.S. biking itinerary or you’re on an international tour. Our proximity to Glacier National Park is a major draw for travelers. We’re just a 30-minute drive from the gorgeous Crown of the Continent, and we’re also close to downtown Whitefish, the charming ski town and summer hot spot. This area boasts endless year-round outdoor recreation and fun.

Aerial view of Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Summer is stunning at WBR. From the aerial photo, you can see our lodge, campground, trails, skills area, pump track, ridge deck, office/camp store and the woods we call home. Book a bunk in our lodge or pitch a tent in our campground, and ride around our trails or venture onto the Whitefish Trail System, encompassing 42 miles of natural surface trails with 12 trail-heads. The WBR crew is here to help you navigate the trails and find your way around this exceptionally scenic part of Montana.

WBR also offers day adventures. Rent a mountain bike trail-side so you can ride the Whitefish Trail without having to transport your own bike to a trailhead. When you’re finished with your ride, feel free to come back and hang out with us, and share your stories from the day. Grab a pint of our favorite local ice cream at Sweet Peaks, and recover in one of our hammocks to top off a day well spent.

Bikepacking on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.

For those of you looking to venture further out on a longer ride, plan a bikepacking adventure where you are limited only by the time you have available. We offer mountain bike and bikepacking bag rentals, so all you need to bring is your gear and sense of adventure. We can help you pack a bike, find a route to explore and shuttle you to the trailhead, or pick you up when you’re finished.

Embark on the ultimate adventure. WBR is located near the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which is the longest off-pavement bicycle route in the world, starting from Banff in Alberta, Canada, crisscrossing the Continental Divide and ending in Antelope Wells, New Mexico.

Riders on the Whitefish Trail.

Fat biking around Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Biking isn’t reserved for the warmer months. Winter offers load of fun. Join us for a snowy winter-wonderland adventure. Our lodge is open year-round, with groomed fat bike trails stretching from the front door out into and around the Beaver Lake area. These winter trails are shared with snowshoers, cross-country skiers and fat bike trail enthusiasts. Our lodge offers guests easy access to winter activities and a comfy place to end the day with family and friends, warming up in the wood-fired sauna.

Wood-fired sauna for guests.

Getting here is easy. For those of you flying into our closest airport, Glacier Park International (FCA) in Kalispell, we offer a shuttle. Amtrak rail service running from Seattle or Portland to Chicago passes right through our region, with a stop in Whitefish, and we are happy to offer a shuttle from the train depot. During our office hours, we offer free town shuttles to get guests back and forth between WBR and Whitefish, where you can take advantage of buses to Glacier National Park or Whitefish Mountain Resort, or enjoy downtown Whitefish—one of the friendliest towns in the West, with an array of shops, galleries and eateries.

Shuttle drop-off for riders.

For more information on biking adventures in Western Montana, visit our website at
www.whitefishbikeretreat.com or give us a call at 406.260.0274.

SLEEP – WAKE – RIDE – FIND ADVENTURE

Cricket

Cricket – owner of Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Cricket Butler moved to Whitefish 2012 and opened the Whitefish Bike Retreat (WBR) in 2013.  She has a long history of cycling and adventuring including long distance hiking and kayaking to mountaineering and knows how to cater to visitors looking for an active vacation.  Her love for Montana and passion for cycling shows in what she has created and helps others find their own adventure in beautiful Northwest Montana.

 

GUEST POST: 4 WAYS TO CELEBRATE FALL AT TRIPLE CREEK RANCH

Located right here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country sits Triple Creek Ranch an all-inclusive guest ranch voted as the Best Hotel in the World by readers of Travel & Leisure, 2014. Fall is the perfect time to visit Triple Creek Ranch, where we offer some exciting complimentary programs that extend the value of our all-inclusive rates. If you can’t make it for 2017, be sure to put it on your calendar for 2018.

One of the many sculptures that greet you at Triple Creek Ranch.

Klicks for Chicks (October 11 – 16, 2017)
As the aspens turn gold and cover tremendous swaths of the mountainside with their shimmery glow, we know it is time to welcome our cowgirls for the annual Klicks for Chicks event. Join a high-spirited posse of gals for days in the saddle traversing the Montana wilderness that meet a fitting end with hearty fare, good-natured camaraderie and the plush comfort of a downy bed. For every “klick” (kilometer) ridden by every cowgirl, the ranch donates a dollar to Summit for Parkinson’s.

Klicks for chicks cowgirls.

Artist Workshop Weekend (October 19 – 23, 2017)
How better to spend a lovely autumn afternoon than learning how to paint or sculpt in a relaxed setting – tucked away on a Montana mountainside with friends and splendid inspiration? We provide the art supplies and our artist partners provide instruction. Featured artists for the fall workshop are Brent Cotton, Carol Hagan and Greg Kelsey.

Learn from featured artists at Artist Workshop Weekend 

Autumn Birding in the Bitterroot (October 26 – 30, 2017)
The Bitterroot Valley is a birder’s paradise. Wide ranges of species reside or migrate through this richly varied terrain. Celebrated birder Greg Miller will lead guests on daily outings over the mountains, through the woods, across the prairies, and along the rivers in search of favorite birds, wherever they may be. Greg’s specialties include identifying birds by their songs, and his charismatic personality was genially portrayed in the book and movie The Big Year. October days in Montana often offer brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine, perfect conditions for optimal birding!

The Bitterroot Valley is a birder’s paradise.

Tamber Bey Vintner Thanksgiving (November 22 – 26, 2017)
Acclaimed Napa Valley winery Tamber Bey showcases its vintner craftsmanship at Sundance Ranch, the world-class equestrian facility in Calistoga that is home to the winery. Vintners Barry and Jennifer Waitte will feel right at home when they join us to welcome guests for our Thanksgiving celebration. The familiar, rich array of Ranch activities will be available, along with holiday-themed cooking classes and wine tastings.

Holiday-themed cooking classes and wine tasting.

About Triple Creek Ranch
Experience the legendary hospitality and enchanting beauty of the World’s Best Hotel (Travel + Leisure, 2014) set in the heart of the Montana Rockies. Triple Creek Ranch offers an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch experience of refined rustic elegance and five star service amidst the romance of a forested mountain retreat.

Private log cabins feature wood-burning fireplaces, original Western art from the owners’ private collection, king beds, and a private or nearby hot tub. Nightly cabin rates are all-inclusive: all meals, house wine, spirits and beer, on-ranch activities. Guests ages 16 and older are welcome, ensuring that adult travelers enjoy a relaxed and romantic setting with incomparable scenery, an endless menu of outdoor activities and the option of adding on exhilarating off-ranch Western adventures. Featured Montana activities include sapphire panning, horseback riding and ORVIS guided fly-fishing.

Revel in a retreat from the everyday and relax in world-class accommodations, experience the thrill of the Montana wilderness from the back of a horse, dine on the freshest contemporary cuisine and sample the world’s finest wines while our seasoned staff attends to every desire.

Come visit soon,
Jennifer

Jennifer O’Donohue is the Marketing and Sales Director for Triple Creek Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property.

www.triplecreekranch.com
info@triplecreekranch.com
(406) 821-4600

GUEST POST: TOP 3 REASONS BEAR CREEK LODGE SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT RETREAT DESTINATION

INSPIRATION, INTEGRATION, INNOVATION

1) Distinctive Mountain Venue

Bear Creek Lodge is situated on 155 acres of pristine nature in Victor, Montana, just an hour’s drive from Missoula at the edge of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. A mountain hideaway nestled in a blanket of pine trees, Bear Creek Lodge provides a civilized approach to a wilderness experience. This exquisite lodge was constructed in 1991 with massive logs harvested near Yellowstone National Park after the forest fires of 1988. Each of its eight guest rooms is appointed with a comfortable bed, antique furnishings, a private bathroom and a door that opens onto the forest. The dining room brings corporate groups together for a delicious culinary experience incorporating local ingredients, prepared fresh and served family style.

Enjoy a mile of private access on Bear Creek.

Bear Creek Lodge enhancement activities serve as a catalyst for nature and include sunrise meditation, hikes through the forest and up to an overlook with lunch on the viewpoint or down at the creek, cooking classes, yoga, massage therapy, fly-fishing, horseback riding on six private trails and acoustic music under the stars.

2) Nature-Inspired Creativity

With today’s dynamic and fast-paced environment, it can be challenging to nurture our creative energy. Without balance, creativity suffers and productivity stagnates. At Bear Creek Lodge, groups reconnect with nature. Working in harmony without the usual distractions from life, the “noise” quiets. With greater clarity, challenges become opportunities and solutions take form.

Relaxing lounge area on the deck for after the work is done.

3) Talent Development and Collaboration

Today’s talent development often takes place within four walls. This alone can prevent work groups from thinking outside the box. At Bear Creek Lodge, we use the power of nature to break down walls for your team. Awaken creativity and allow our intimate setting and tailored agenda to renew and build camaraderie while aligning with your business goals. Our team combines hospitality experience with talent development experience to ensure your needs are met.

Fantastic outdoor work space.

Bear Creek Lodge’s philosophy is to be a steward of the land. Focused efforts on conservation and sustainability, together with the support of local suppliers for the ingredients in our farm-to-table meals, ensures nature’s nourishment continues for years to come. Share in this special connection by allowing Bear Creek Lodge to work with you to create a lasting “inner” footprint, inspired by nature. We look forward to welcoming you and your team!

We hope to see you in nature.

JT and TC

The authors.

Janet Turney, the owner of Bear Creek Lodge.

Tonya Chandler, Business Manager and Bear Creek Lodge Coordinator.

6 HISTORIC INNS AND LODGES IN WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

When I talk to tour operators from around the U.S. and Canada, I often get the same request for authentic Montana experiences for their clients. Besides the notable activities like horseback riding, red bus touring, fly-fishing excursions and whitewater rafting, we often talk about how choosing the right type of lodging options can strongly contribute to the types of experiences their group and FIT clients have on one of their tours. If the group is truly looking for a genuine Montana tour, an overnight stay at one of Glacier Country’s historic inns or lodges is a great option. We have many to choose from in the region, especially in the northern tier of Western Montana. Some were constructed as accommodations for railroad workers for Great Northern Railroad in the early 1900s and have been renovated into charming lodging, while other properties were built for early travelers to Glacier National Park.

Stay at the charming Izaak Walton Inn.

Stay at the charming Izaak Walton Inn.

The Historic Tamarack Lodge & Cabins—open year-round and located in Martin City about 10 minutes from the west entrance to Glacier National Park—was originally constructed in 1907 and has undergone numerous renovations over the last century as it added modern amenities, including in-room TVs, while still maintaining a rustic charm. The lodge has a true log cabin atmosphere, with four guest rooms, a great room, saloon and coffee bar. In addition to the main lodge, there are 14 cabins that range from motel units to large family-friendly and couples’ accommodations.

The cozy great room in the Historic Tamarack Lodge. Photo: Tamarack Lodge

The cozy great room in the Historic Tamarack Lodge. Photo: Tamarack Lodge

Built in 1910 to accommodate railroad workers during the construction period of the Great Northern Railroad is the Belton Chalet, located in West Glacier near the west entrance to Glacier National Park. The West Glacier train depot sits across the street from the Belton Chalet, making it convenient to those traveling on Amtrak’s Empire Builder from Seattle or Portland to Chicago. While renovations were completed in 2000, the Belton Chalet has maintained the same charm, ambiance and elegance of the early 1900s. In keeping with the historic era and relaxing atmosphere, no electronic distractions are located in the rooms inspiring guests to take advantage of the exceptionally beautiful views from the many decks built around the perimeter of the lodge. The lodge’s on-site dining room serves gourmet dinners created with local Montana ingredients.

Belton Chalet in West Glacier. Photo: Belton Chalet

Belton Chalet in West Glacier. Photo: Belton Chalet

Elegant dining at the Belton Chalet. Photo: Belton Chalet

Elegant dining at the Belton Chalet. Photo: Belton Chalet

The Izaak Walton Inn is one of Western Montana’s most notable and historic lodges. A year-round retreat built in 1939, the Izaak Walton Inn is located off of Highway 2 on the southern border of Glacier National Park in Essex. Listed as a national historic landmark, the inn has kept with the era in which it was built and is void of TVs, telephones, elevators and air conditioners, however Wi-Fi is available in the main lobby. Guests can choose from guest rooms in the historic lodge, converted railroad cars—including locomotives and cabooses—and cabins near the lodge. The Dining Car restaurant serves exquisite food with a Montana flare and locally sourced products. Essex is noted as a “flag stop” on the Empire Builder route from Seattle to Chicago and will not stop unless ticketed passengers are getting on or off. A fun tradition that has developed over time encourages guest to step out onto the deck of the Izaak Walton Inn and give a wave to the passenger trains as they pass by.

The lobby of the Izaak Walton Inn takes you back in time.

The lobby of the Izaak Walton Inn takes you back in time.

Stay in a caboose. Photo: Izaak Walton Inn

Stay in a caboose. Photo: Izaak Walton Inn

Within the boundaries of Glacier National Park are some of the most notable historic lodges in Montana. Located in the northeast side of Glacier National Park is the park’s largest hotel—Many Glacier Hotel. Open mid-June to mid-September, Many Glacier Hotel was built by the Great Northern Railroad in 1915. Situated on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake and offering magnificent views from all of the 205 guest rooms, the hotel is undergoing a major renovation planned to be complete in 2017. In keeping with the era, all guest rooms offer modest amenities—no televisions or air conditioning—and old-world style accommodations. The abundance of outdoor recreation, including red bus tours, boat tours on Swiftcurrent Lake, horseback rides, abundant hiking trails and the valley’s majestic views make Many Glacier Hotel quite popular with guests from all over the world. Early reservations are highly recommended and group reservations are limited.

Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

The view of Swiftcurrent Lake from Many Glacier Hotel.

The view of Swiftcurrent Lake from Many Glacier Hotel.

The classic Swiss chalet-style lodge of Lake McDonald Lodge sits on the east shore of Lake McDonald. Open mid-May to the end of September, the historic hotel is located 10 miles inside the west entrance of Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Built in 1913, the lodge has 82 guest rooms (including the main lodge rooms and cabins) and dining options that include Russell’s Fireside Dining Room, Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria and Lucke’s Lounge. Again, in keeping with the era in which the lodge was built, guest rooms offer modest amenities and TVs, air conditioning and elevators are not available. The lodge offers an abundance of outdoor recreation including ranger-led programs, boat tours that leave from the lodge dock, red bus tours that pick up from the lodge as well as horseback trail rides making Lake McDonald Lodge quite popular with guests from all over the world. Note that early reservations are highly recommended and group reservations are limited.

Beautiful fall day at Lake McDonald Lodge.

Beautiful fall day at Lake McDonald Lodge.

The views from Lake McDonald Lodge.

The views from Lake McDonald Lodge.

If your tour takes you down the Seeley-Swan Valley—one of the prettiest in Montana—a visit to the Double Arrow Resort and the first “dude ranch” in Seeley Lake will add a true Montana retreat experience to any tour. The main lodge was built in 1929 with the focal point being a massive stone fireplace in the great room. Choose to stay in one of the three guest rooms in the main lodge (complete with a bed-and-breakfast Montana lodge feeling) or one of the many log cabins throughout the property. Kick up your heels at Stirrups Lounge or experience gourmet Montana-inspired cuisine at the on-site Seasons Restaurant. Other amenities include an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, outdoor tennis courts and horseshoe pits, as well as seasonal activities from horseback riding to horse-drawn sleigh rides in the winter.

Welcome to Double Arrow Lodge.

Welcome to Double Arrow Lodge.

If you need help planning an itinerary, visit our tour operator page here. If you’d like more information on adding a stay at one of the historic inns or lodges in Western Montana to your itinerary, drop me a line here. I am always happy to help.

DP

A MEETING PLANNER FAM TRIP THROUGH WESTERN MONTANA

We all know that the best—and quite frankly the only way—to really know if a destination is right for your next meeting, conference or corporate retreat is to experience it firsthand. With that in mind, last month Western Montana’s Glacier Country invited four professional meeting planners from around the U.S. to Montana for a familiarization (FAM) tour to visit our three anchor cities of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish, where we showcased meeting facilities, off-site venues, farm-to-fork offerings and authentic Montana experiences that seemed custom-made for meetings.

After flying into Missoula International Airport (MSO) the group took a scenic 30-minute drive to The Resort at Paws Up an authentic working cattle ranch and one of Western Montana’s luxury guest ranches. The ranch has varying accommodations from lavish guest homes to riverside glamping tents that include a camp butler who’s dedicated to your group’s needs. The glamping tents were a hit with the planners and we took a few minutes to relax around the fire along the Blackfoot River—one of Montana’s premiere blue-ribbon fly-fishing trout streams.

Relaxing around the campfire at Paws Up.

Relaxing around the campfire at Paws Up.

After the site tour we returned to Missoula, Montana’s second-largest city and cultural hub. We had a restful night’s sleep at the DoubleTree by Hilton (featuring 171 guest rooms and nearly 9,000 square feet of meeting space). The next day we met up with representatives from Destination Missoula—the official convention and visitors bureau—before visiting some of Missoula’s meeting and event spaces including Big Sky Brewery, The Wilma Theater, the Missoula Art Museum and one of downtown Missoula’s premiere restaurants, Plonk Wine Bar, where we dined in the elegant wine cellar. The Holiday Inn Missoula Downtown (featuring 200 guest rooms and 15,000 sq. feet of meeting space) is one of Missoula’s leading convention hotels and hosted us for the night before we departed for Bigfork the following morning.

Big Sky Brewery is the largest producer of craft beer in Montana.

Big Sky Brewery is the largest producer of craft beer in Montana.

The drive from Missoula to Bigfork north on Highway 93 happens to yield some of the most scenic vistas in Montana, including the National Bison Range and the Mission Mountain Range. With Montana’s fall colors on full display, the drive through the Jocko and Mission valleys was stunning.

Our next stop on the FAM tour was Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. Family owned and operated for over 65 years, the 2,000-acre resort sits on the east shore of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the West—where it offers both horse and water recreation, as well as accommodations that vary from small cabins to rustic lodges and 5,000 square feet of meeting space. While the resort hosts families for week-long vacations from mid-June through Labor Day, it can be reserved for groups the months of May, early June, September and October making it the ultimate spring or fall retreat destination.

Lunch at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Lunch at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Next on the itinerary and a highlight for the planners was a visit to Glacier National Park. Upon entering the park, we stopped for a photo at the Glacier Park sign, then continued on to Lake McDonald Lodge were we embarked on a boat cruise with Glacier Park Boat Company aboard the DeSmet on Lake McDonald. It was a perfect afternoon in Glacier National Park.

Welcome to Glacier National Park, ladies.

Welcome to Glacier National Park, ladies.

Having some fun on the DeSmet on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Having some fun on the DeSmet on Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park.

Discover Kalispell—the Kalispell Convention & Visitors Bureau—welcomed the planners with an insightful historical tour on the Montana Trolley, a service that’s used to transport groups on specialty tours and to events throughout the Flathead Valley. The trolley dropped us at the Conrad Mansion—once the home to Kalispell’s founder, Charles Conrad—for a tour and delicious dinner served on the mansion lawn, the perfect setting for off-site receptions.

Montana Trolley ride to dinner.

Montana Trolley ride to dinner.

Beautiful dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Beautiful dinner at the Conrad Mansion in Kalispell.

Our overnight accommodations were at the conveniently located Red Lion Kalispell in the heart of downtown Kalispell (featuring 170 guest rooms and 12,000 square feet of flexible meeting space). After spending the morning on site tours of additional meeting options in Kalispell, we headed to the north end of Flathead Lake and climbed aboard the Far West for an excursion on Flathead Lake. The Far West is available for leisure tours daily throughout the summer and can be chartered for special events for up to 150 passengers.

Cruising with Far West on Flathead Lake.

Cruising with Far West on Flathead Lake.

Our final destination was the charming mountain town of Whitefish where we were greeted by Explore Whitefish—the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau. Our first night in Whitefish we had dinner in the elegant wine room at Grouse Mountain Lodge. The next morning we visited the newest boutique property in downtown Whitefish—The Firebrand Hotel (featuring 86 guest rooms, a small meeting room and board room). The rest of the day was spent shopping on Central Avenue, looking at the team-building activity options at Whitefish Mountain Resort and lodging options on Big Mountain—including the option to buy out the mountainside Kandahar Lodge for groups of 10 to 50 in the spring and fall months.

The cozy mountainside Kandahar Lodge.

The cozy mountainside Kandahar Lodge.

Our final evening was spent sipping spirits at Whitefish’s newest distillery, Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits—perfect for receptions or cocktail hour—and dining at one of the local favorites, Ciao Mambo before heading to The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (featuring 101 guest rooms and 10,000+ square feet of meeting space) on the shore of Whitefish Lake for a restful night’s sleep.

Good morning from The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

After a delightful breakfast, the planners departed Glacier Park International (FCA) (a 15-minute drive from downtown Whitefish) for home.

It was an action-packed week full of great food, fantastic venues, fun activities and lots of learning about Western Montana’s meeting options.

If you would like more information about Western Montana’s Glacier Country as a meetings destination (feel free to check out our week at #MeetInMontana on instagram and twitter) or are interested in participating in the next meeting planner FAM highlighting our three anchor cities of Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish, drop me an email here.

Meet me in Montana,

DP

MONTANA GUEST RANCHES MAKE THE PERFECT CORPORATE INCENTIVE VACATION

Over the last few years, the trend of companies investing again in incentive travel programs for their top producing associates has been on the rise. In most cases, companies are looking for the one-of-a-kind experience that will engage and encourage year-long motivation. When it comes to selecting the next destination for your corporate incentive program, look no further than Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Home to four of the finest guest ranches in the West—with each catering to couples, groups or families—Western Montana can deliver an experiential vacation of a lifetime for your team.

The Ranch at Rock Creek and the big sky of Montana

The Ranch at Rock Creek and the big sky of Montana.

Triple Creek Ranch: A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux properties (an exclusive collection of 500 of the world’s finest hotels and gourmet restaurants), Triple Creek Ranch sits amongst the pine trees in the Bitterroot Mountain Range in Darby, Montana. Located about an hour’s drive south of Missoula through the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, the 26,000-acre all-inclusive ranch caters to adults (all guests must be at least 16 years old) and features accommodations from private one-bedroom log cabins to luxury ranch homes. The lodge is adorned with an impressive western art collection and the restaurant—under the direction of Executive Chef Jake Leatherman—serves the freshest cuisine along with the world’s finest wines. Guests can choose from on-site and off-ranch activities that include:

  • On-site activities: horseback riding, hiking, tennis, panning for sapphires, archery or relaxing by the pool
  • Off-ranch adventures: fly-fishing or a scenic float on the Bitterroot River or a guided ATV tour
  • Winter activities: snowshoeing, cross-country, alpine skiing or a guided snowmobiling excursion

Awards: Triple Creek Ranch was recently named the best hotel in the world by Business Insider and voted the top hotel in the world by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine for 2014.

Entrance to the lodge at Triple Creek Ranch.

Entrance to the lodge at Triple Creek Ranch.

An evening of fireside entertainment.

An evening of fireside entertainment.

Memories captured at Triple Creek Ranch.

Memories captured at Triple Creek Ranch.

The Resort at Paws Up: Guests will be greeted for an unforgettable stay and experience at The Resort at Paws Up, a family friendly authentic working cattle ranch. Located in Greenough, Montana, Paws Up offers a luxury stay on 37,000 acres in the Blackfoot Valley. Accommodations vary from a ranch house to lavish guest homes along with riverside glamping camps that offer the utmost in luxury tent camping along the Blackfoot River—one of Montana’s premiere blue-ribbon fly-fishing trout streams and made famous in the movie A River Runs Through It.  As Western Montana’s largest guest ranch, The Resort at Paws Up staff will work with planners to create an outstanding incentive program to motivate, inspire and reward individuals (along with their families) or groups of up to 200 people. Activities include:

  • Year-round all-inclusive activities: fitness center, hiking trails, geocaching, fishing equipment, mountain biking, all on-property sports and pony rides
  • A-la-carte activities: archery, skeet shooting, ATV tours, riding lessons, fly-fishing, trail rides, hot air ballooning, rappelling, whitewater rafting and Spa Town
  • Winter: dogsledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, tubing and ice skating

Awards: in the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, The Resort at Paws Up was ranked 2nd of the top 20 resorts in the West, 5th in the top 25 resorts in the U.S. and 15th in the top 100 hotels & resorts in the world.

One of the luxury tent accommodations at Cliffside Camp along the Blackfoot River.

One of the luxury tent accommodations at Cliffside Camp along the Blackfoot River.

Beautiful interiors in one of the wilderness homes.

Beautiful interiors in one of the wilderness homes.

Gourmet chuckwagon cookout.

Gourmet chuckwagon cookout.

The Ranch at Rock Creek: If you want your top producers to feel like celebrities, send them to the world’s only five-star guest ranch where staff member will greet them by name throughout their stay. Located outside the cute Montana town of Philipsburg, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a family friendly ranch resort and a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux properties. It is the ultimate in all-inclusive luxury and experiences, offering 29 one-of-a-kind accommodations with 38 private bedrooms. Guests can choose to stay in one of the nine suites in the Granite Lodge, glamping cabins, the historic refurbished barn or one of a host of luxury guest homes. The Silver Dollar Saloon offers nightly entertainment including shuffleboard, billiards, table tennis, karaoke, a four-lane bowling alley and a private movie theater. Over 20 activities are offered daily on the ranch’s 6,600 acres.

  • Daily activity offerings: horseback riding, fly-fishing, shooting and archery, ropes course, mountain biking, hiking, geocaching and Little Grizzlies Kids Club, as well as a weekly old-fashioned rodeo
  • Relaxation offerings: Bikini Beach, pool, hot tub and luxury spa treatments at Granite Spa
  • Winter experiences: snowmobiling (including all-inclusive equipment, gear and guide), snow cat tours, sleigh rides, ice skating and sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing

Awards: the only Forbes five-star ranch resort in the world.

Refurbished barn with luxury accommodations.

Refurbished barn with luxury accommodations.

Saddle up at the Silver Dollar Saloon.

Saddle up at the Silver Dollar Saloon.

Good old-fashioned barn dance.

Good old-fashioned barn dance.

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge: For the ultimate in traditional family dude ranch vacations, Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is one of the best. Family owned and operated for over 65 years, visitors will feel like a member of the Averill family at week’s end. Only 35 miles from Glacier National Park, the resort sits on the shore of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the West—in Bigfork, Montana, on 2,000 acres and offers both horse and water recreation for the entire family. Accommodations have a rustic and cozy ambience with traditional log furnishings and country quilts adorning the beds, giving them a real old west cowboy feel. Cabins range from one to three bedrooms and are nestled in the pines. They also have a historic log lodge, complete with a rock fireplace and central lobby. The ranch can accommodate up to 120 guests at a time, with all incoming guests arriving on Sunday in the summer months for a full week worth of adventure, while length of stay for incentive group packages in the spring and fall can be negotiated. Some of the activity options include:

  • Horseback programs: trail rides, riding lessons, roping, team penning and rodeo
  • Flathead Lake water activities: sailing, lake cruises, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and fishing
  • On-ranch activities: bike rentals, basketball and tennis courts, beach volleyball and lakeside swimming pool
  • Kids programs: arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, laser tag, junior wrangler and overnight tipi camping

Awards: voted one of the top 50 family vacations by Home and Garden magazine.

Historic Flathead Lake Lodge. Photos courtesy of Flathead Lake Lodge

Historic Flathead Lake Lodge. Photos courtesy of Flathead Lake Lodge

Happy horses after a hard day’s work.

Happy horses after a hard day’s work.

Sailing on Flathead Lake.

Sailing on Flathead Lake.

When you’re working with one of Montana’s guest ranches, here are a few things to note:

*Be sure to ask if shuttle transportation is included in the rates from local airports whether flying commercial or into private local airstrips. Triple Creek Ranch, The Resort at Paws Up and The Ranch at Rock Creek are all serviced by Missoula International Airport (MSO), while Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge is serviced by Glacier Park International Airport (FCA).

*During the busy summer season, most guest ranches have a four-night minimum stay requirement. Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge requires a week’s stay during the summer months, while spring, fall and winter stay lengths can be negotiated.

*All-inclusive is for most on-site activities, meals and beverages. Some seasonal amenities or off-property excursions are at additional costs or offered as an al-a-carte menu. Be sure to ask the ranch for specifics.

For more information on these guest ranches and others in our region or to explore other incentive options in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country Meetings website or drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,

DP