Montana has plenty of wide-open spaces, including nine National Park Service areas, so it’s no surprise that infusing wellness and relaxation into a meetings retreat is not hard in Big Sky County.
From relaxing at natural hot springs to equestrian therapy, here are four places where groups can take advantage of the state’s beauty and nature.
Just west of Missoula, Paws Up is a 37,000-acre working ranch with 10 miles of the Blackfoot River running through the property. The resort offers accommodations from multi-suite homes to luxury tents and can accommodate groups up to 275.
Groups can arrange for dude ranch activities, such as trail rides, cattle drives and chuck wagon dinners, as well as outdoor wilderness experiences, like fly fishing, white-water rafting and ATV tours.
The resort also has its own wellness director on site. The property features a new yoga studio that was transformed from a former fitness center into a glass box space. The resort’s spa isn’t a traditional facility. Spa Town is a group of tents in a meadow overlooking pine trees and a brook. The tents feature full baths and showers as well as individual treatment rooms.
Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, West Glacier
Located near Spa Town is the Grizzlyman Fitness Trail, a one-mile course that features 12 fitness stations. Each features equipment made from the surrounding timber and offers challenges, including climbing, balancing and swinging.
The resort’s equestrian department lets guests get up close with the horses on property. This year, there are new programs that benefit the overall wellness of both humans and the horses.
“The Mustang Mindfulness Demo is a great activity for groups, allowing them to watch and help participate in gentling one of our wild mustangs,” said Jackie Kecskes, equestrian manager. “At the end of each demo, participants watch the scared, flighty mustang relax, accepting things such as human touch and a tarp. Depending on how far we get with the mustang, guests even sometimes have the opportunity to touch the horse.”
There is also Horse Whispering 101 and 201, which allow groups to interact with the horses without getting on them. Guests learn techniques that help to build a connection, a trust and a focus between the horse and rider.
For groups that want to ride the horses, there is a six-hour Frontiersman Ride, which takes guests to an excluded part of the property.
“We can customize the speed and length of the ride if novice riders want to try,” Kecskes explained.
Located in Glacier National Park, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft helps visitors experience the park through rafting, hiking, fishing and biking guides. The company offers groups options to raft on the area’s two rivers, bike roads and trails closed to vehicles and fish the waters of the park, providing participants with equipment. In addition to the set trips the company offers, groups can customize adventures based on skills, abilities and needs as well as provide transportation.
A key focus of Glacier Guides is preserving and protecting the region’s ecosystem while exposing the offerings and natural beauty of the park.
“In Northwest Montana, just breathing the air can calm the soul and help attendees adopt an open frame of mind for learning and experiencing what you have to offer,” said Dawn Jackson, group sales manager for the Kalispell CVB, which includes Glacier National Park. “Surrounded by breathtaking mountain peaks, lakes and streams, a meeting in this setting is your first step to relaxing and invigorating guests. From the small Northwest Montana city of Kalispell, guests can hike in Glacier National Park, learn to fly fish, bike and horseback ride.”
In 2010, Glacier Guides also opened Glacier Guides Lodge, an eco-friendly lodging option, located at the west entrance to Glacier National Park. Additional lodging options include Glacier Guides Guest House, also in West Glacier, and Granite Park Chalet, which is located in the park and only accessible by hiking.
Big Sky Resort is located midway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone and offers multiple types of lodging accommodations, dining venues, meeting facilities and year-round adventure experiences. Based on its location, the resort refers to itself as the “Basecamp of Yellowstone” and takes advantage of its serene setting to relax and recharge visitors.
Outside Big Sky’s 55,000 square feet of meeting space, attendees can use the setting as a way to connect with nature on their own or through group activities. The tram to the top of Lone Peak takes riders to the 11,166-foot summit to view two national parks, three states and surrounding mountain ranges.
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Groups can work together at the Adventure Zipline Tour. Participants take a chair lift to the top and embark on the lines that span up to 1,500 feet long and 150 feet high. There’s also the Nature Zipline, which has four-line course ranges for multiple skill levels and groups’ needs. This can be accessed in the summer and winter months.
In addition to numerous outdoor activities, such as ziplining, rock climbing, snowshoeing and Nordic skiing, Big Sky is home to Solace Spa and Salon. The facility is set in the Huntley Lodge and offers options to revitalize the body and spirit.
Treatments include the Coffee Exfoliation, using a locally-roasted coffee scrub; the Beehive Hydrating Honey Wrap, which uses honey to moisturize; and the Southern Comfort Stress Release Wrap, using sugar- and whiskey-infused products.
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Spa opened in 1900, welcoming guests to the Paradise Valley. The four-season resort is set at the base of Emigrant Peak and the historic lodge. Pools are minutes from the Yellowstone River and a short drive to Yellowstone National Park.
Chico Hot Springs Resort & Spa, Pray
Accommodations include rooms in the original inn, cabins, “glamping” wagons and western chalets. The property can host groups up to 180 in the onsite convention center, or outdoors under canopies and tents in the warmer months.
There are two outdoor natural mineral, open-air hot springs pools, giving guests a reprieve from a long day of meetings. There is also a day spa that boasts treatment and fitness options.
Chico Hot Springs takes the farm-to-table movement seriously with its onsite gardens. The produce from these gardens benefits from rich soil that is heated by geothermal runoff from the natural hot springs. The geothermal greenhouse extends the growing season and, when possible, onsite produce is used in the property’s restaurants for meetings and events meals. Groups can take a guided garden tour in the summer, and the adjacent Garden Pavilion can be used for private functions.
Downtown Bozeman to Open Montana’s First Kimpton Hotel
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will open its first property in Montana in early 2020. The property is in the heart of historic downtown Bozeman in a former National Guard Armory building.
The Kimpton Bozeman will feature 122 guest rooms, a signature restaurant, a whisky and bar speakeasy featuring music and live entertainment, and 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
The new Kimpton will also feature a concert hall designed to attract top musical performances as well as a rooftop pool and bar where guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Bridger Mountain Range.
The original building was constructed in 1941 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In keeping true to the building’s history, the hotel design will retain the original Art Deco style created by famed Bozeman architect Fred Willson.
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