I love to ski and went on two trips this past ski season. The first one was to Big Sky, Montana, which is one of my very favorite places. It’s a little remote – the closest major airport is Bozeman (BZN), which is about 90 minutes away – but being a little hard to get to means it’s not crowded. And by “not crowded” I mean that if there are two groups of people in front of you in a lift line, that is a lot. They define a “busy day” as one with more than two people per skiable acre. As someone who is not overly fond of crowds, this is just fantastic for me.
My first trip to this resort was in 1994 and I’ve stayed in four different accommodations over the years since our ski club visits every 2-3 years. By far the best choice is The Summit.
The Summit wasn’t even built on my first visit to Big Sky. I believe a building for the two gondolas (that have since been replaced) was on that site and perhaps some rental and retail shops. By my third trip, which would have been around the year 2000 or so, the Summit had been built but our group did not stay here. We looked on, jealous, as some folks were able to ski right up to the back patio of the property. We tried not to be envious as we could see the massive hot pool as we skied between the property and the Ram Charger lift. But we failed miserably. The next time our club visited, we stayed at The Summit and it’s where we’ve stayed every trip since.
The room setup is what I’d call “configurable condos”. Every condo I’ve been in has had at least one bedroom that could be locked-off and rented separately has a hotel room.
There are efficiency units where the room contains a kitchen, living area, bathroom and a Murphy bed. These units seem to be in the middle of the building. The unit I visited had two lock-off bedrooms – one on either side of the main unit – to offer greater flexibility. One bedroom had a king and the other had two queens. So this combination of rooms and beds could be configured several different ways:
- Efficiency unit (Murphy bed + sleeper sofa + bathroom + kitchen + living room only) – max 4 people
- King bed hotel room (bathroom but no kitchen) – max 2 people
- 2 Queen bed hotel room (bathroom but no kitchen) – max 4 people
- Efficiency unit + King bedroom – max 6 people
- Efficiency unit + 2 Queen bedroom – max 8 people
- All units combined – max 8 people
But at the end of the hallways are the other type of two and three bedroom units. Photos in this post are from a 2BR unit at the end of the hallway. They are very similar, with the difference being the extra bedroom. In the three bedroom unit the middle bedroom will often have a Jacuzzi tub there in the bedroom. Both of these type of units have sleeper sofas and a full bath in the interior hallway. So technically up to two people could sleep on the pull-out sofa and use that bathroom – or, as we tend to use it, one of the people in the lock-off bedroom with 2 Queen beds could use it while the other person uses the bath in the room. The master bedroom in these units has a what looks to be a double bed. Several different couples have complained about the tight quarters in that room. The second bedroom with the Jacuzzi features a king bed.
The living/dining room of these end units is much larger and they have dining tables that will seat at least 6 people. These rooms also have galley-style kitchens that have a good bit more counter and cabinet space than the units in the middle of the building.
As I mentioned above, the Summit is right at the base of the slopes, just steps from the Ram Charger lift, which is at the left side of the base as you look at the mountain. You can literally ski right up to the (heated) back patio of the Summit. There you will find a ski check that is complimentary for all guests. They’ll even send your skis to get waxed and/or tuned over night if you like. The Swift Current lift is easily visible from the ski check are but it is uphill just a little bit. But several of the friendly ski check workers carried our skis up to the the base of that lift for us – and we didn’t even ask them to do so!
The base area of Big Sky is very compact so even though the Summit is at one end of the main plaza, it is a very short walk to anything else at the base.
The Summit doesn’t have a hot tub. Instead it has a hot pool that can hold dozens of people. First thing to do when you check in is to ask the front desk for robes. They don’t have enough for the entire facility so they’re only available upon request. Once you have that, put on your swimsuit and head down to the second floor. Walk down the hallway to the end, then follow it to the right. You’ll come to the desk where you sign in and grab your towels. If you like, you can leave a drink order and they’ll bring it directly to you! Go through the doorway past the desk, turn right (the locker rooms are to the left), through the double doors and you’ll be at your destination. To your left is a sauna, to your right is a small workout room. But right in front of you is what might normally be thought of as a hot tub. It has stairs to walk down into it and seats about 6 or so people. But then go through the swim-through door (you don’t have to go underwater but you must be in the water) and you’ll be outside in the main portion of the pool
It not only has seating around the edges but has an island in the center with seats as well. There’s a patio with chairs between the pool and the building and this is where the staff will come with drinks. There’s a glass wall separating the pool area from the slopes which does a pretty good job of keeping those stiff winter breezes from chilling your nose. In short, it’s a fantastic way to end your ski day! I just wish I’d realized I did not have any photos of the hot tub. Will come back and add those some day.
There are two restaurants and a coffee cart in the building. The Carabiner Lounge has a full-service bar and is great for a reasonably-priced lunch. The Peaks Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner but is a bit pricier though the food is quite good.
On one end of the second floor is a retail shop and at the other end is a self-service laundry. I believe there’s a charge to wash but the dryers are free – or maybe it’s the other way around. But one of the two is free. The front desk and concierge are located on the ground floor. The concierge can assist with dining options at Buck’s T-4 (down the main highway from Big Sky) and with day trips to Yellowstone National Park or with snowmobiling or fly fishing.
I understand the property is undergoing some renovation this year and prices will go up for next ski season. But I have no doubt it will be worth it. It truly is the best place to stay in Big Sky.