I was back in Big Sky, Montana recently. It’s one of my favorite resorts because I love the slopes and (shh!) there are never any liftlines. They’re in the midst of a multi-year, multi-million dollar project performing upgrades all over the mountain. This year saw the addition of North America’s first 8-seat chairlift (complete with a bubble and heated seats!) and in coming years the ancient beginner lift will be replaced with a gondola that will service both beginner slopes as well as bowl skiing for advanced skiers.
In the recent past our ski club has stayed at The Summit, which is a high-rise condo right at the base of the slopes. But two years ago the property began the process of upgrading from a 4-star property to a 5-star. Though it’s only a 4.5-star at the moment, that was enough to push the pricing out of our club’s budget. I really hate that because it’s so convenient and has the best hot tub on the mountain.
So this year our club stayed at the original base lodging facility, The Huntley Lodge. Named after resort co-founder Chet Huntley (he of NBC News fame from the 1960s & 1970s; look it up, kids) it’s a 3-story hotel with half the rooms facing the slopes. Rooms in one wing are mere steps from the beginner Explorer lift while rooms in the other have the mountain village right outside the door at the end of the hall. For convenience, it’s really hard to beat.
While I have stayed here before, it had been at least 20 years so I was curious to see what had changed. The answer: not a whole lot, which is actually a good thing for the most part.
The lobby is not huge but has a fair amount of seating and, like all the common areas, has a mountain theme to the decor. I especially liked the old skiing items mounted up high.
Skiing artifacts decorating the vaulted ceiling
The dominating feature is The Bear. If you ever need a meeting point, it’s a great landmark.
As I’ve done for the last couple of years, I flew out on a Friday for my ski trip even though the group wouldn’t arrive until Saturday. I do this because I’m in a different origin city and I want to be sure I’m not late catching the bus from the airport to the ski resort. If all my flights are on time it works out fine but at some airports I just can’t arrive before the group due to flight schedules. And with so many credit cards offering free nights I can usually spend one of those certificates although that’s not what I did in this case. I looked into using my IHG free night but by the time I got around to booking a room, the Holiday Inn Express had no more availability.
This year my first ski trip was to Big Sky, Montana, one of my favorite resorts. I believe my first visit was in 1994 and I’ve returned every 3 or so years since. On my club’s last trip here I flew up on a Friday and spent the night at the Residence Inn in Bozeman and that was when I learned they no longer had a hotel shuttle. So instead of burning my Marriott certificate here I thought I’d try out my newly minted Diamond status with a Hilton property.
I was fortunate that the cabin crew from my flight was also staying at the Hilton Garden Inn because by the time I’d collected my luggage (and kudos to the BZN baggage crew for making priority bags first on the belt!) and called the hotel, the cabin crew had called the hotel, the shuttle had arrived and they were already on board so I didn’t have to wait for the shuttle at all.
Lobby and Check-in
Since I had so much luggage to wrangle I let the flight crew check in first while I got all my bags inside. The lobby has a large seating area for breakfast on the right side and more casual seating on the left side though there’s a long table there that could be used for breakfast too.
Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Lobby Seating
Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Lobby Seating
Hilton Garden Inn Bozeman Breakfast Seating
For a limited time American Express is offering an increased sign-up bonus for the no-fee Hilton Honors credit card. The standard offer is 60K points but the increased offer is 100K points after spending just $1000 in the first three months after approval. The card earn 7x points at Hilton properties, 5x points at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations and 3x points everywhere else. Unlike many no-fee cards, this card has no foreign transaction fees – though Amex is not as accepted worldwide as Visa and Mastercard.
No referral required on this one! To take advantage of this offer, get started HERE.
Yesterday IHG announced that the six hotels of the Regent Hotel chain will become part of the IHG Rewards Club starting on February 1st. There are four Regent Hotels in Asia and two in Europe:
Regent Porto Montenegro
These are considered luxury properties, on par with – or even higher than – Intercontinental Hotels, which are already under the IHG umbrella.
We stayed at the Regent Beijing in October 2017 for the kickoff to our Roof of the World tour with Viking River Cruises and were generally quite pleased with the room size and amenities. You can read our review of the property here.
The IHG portfolio is far-reaching and covers the full array of property types. Adding Regent Hotels helps to beef up the top end. Here are the current brands available within the IHG Rewards Club portfolio:
Which of the properties would you like to try next?
Happy 2019! Here’s a quick reminder that there are new bonus categories on some of your favorite cards for the first quarter of 2019:
The Chase Freedom card offers bonuses on purchases at Gas Stations, Drug Stores and on Tolls. If you haven’t already activated your card you can do that HERE.
The Discover Card is offering 5% cash back on purchases at Grocery Stores. You must register before you will receive the bonus cash back. You can do that HERE.
And finally the US Bank Cash+ card offers choices of a number of different categories for you to decide what works best for you. You can pick 3 categories that will earn 5% back and one category for 2%. All other categories will earn 1% cash back. You can make those choices HERE by logging into your account on the US Bank website.