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.
Past the breakfast buffet area was a small bar that had seating at hightop tables.
Once it was my turn to check in the friendly associate was quite helpful and I was finished with the process before the crew members who were being helped by another associate. I don’t recall that my status was mentioned though when being told about breakfast I was informed there was no charge for it. Unless the two bottles of water I received were the welcome amenity I don’t believe I received one. I was not offered, nor did I pursue, a room upgrade. There was some sort of function going on in the meeting room and I don’t know if that was a convention and thus the suites may have been booked already or not. As it was only a one-night stay I wasn’t too concerned with it.
I was directed to the elevators, which were in the hallway to the side of the front desk. I put most of my bags on a luggage cart but had to make a second trip for my skis bag as it is just too heavy to try to maneuver it and other bags at the same time unless I’m just rolling the skis bag behind me.
The hotel is in a bit of a U-shape though the crossbar is quite long. I liked the large elevators as I had no problems getting the cart loaded on and when it came time to get my skis on board I didn’t have to stand the bag straight up to get the doors to close. I exited at the third floor lobby and turned left.
I walked down this hall all the way to the end.
And then about halfway down this hall to room 339.
The room had the standard hotel room layout: small entry hall with a bath on one side, closet on the other and then opening up into the bed area. The king bed was very comfortable and I had a variety of pillow types to choose from. I had requested extra pillows, thus the two set at the foot of the bed.
Each side of the bed had a nightstand and each nightstand had two conveniently placed electrical outlets and two USB ports. I thought that was fantastic. I received two bottle of water as well though I don’t believe that was a welcome amenity. Montana’s air is much drier that mine in Memphis and I took those bottles with me when I checked out. And even though the base elevation in Bozeman is not all that high, at 4000-5000 feet that’s still 4000+ feet than I’m used to and I woke up in the middle of the night with a screaming headache that I attribute to the combination of the elevation and the dry air.
In the far corner was a chair with an ottoman, a side table and a reading light. Since I had my carry-on packed with what I needed for overnight, I used this as a luggage stand for my carry-on.
Across from the chair was the desk that had its own lamp and more easy-to-reach outlets, both electric and USB.
Beside the desk and across from the bed was the lone set of drawers within the TV stand. I didn’t turn on the TV so can’t say how well it worked.
Next to the closet was a cabinet with kitchen appliances: a microwave, a Keurig and the mini-fridge. Both coffee and tea pods were provided for the Keurig though I did not use it.
The closet was fairly large and had full-length mirrors on the sliding doors.
The bathroom was perfectly serviceable. I liked that the counter stretched the whole length of the room, especially since there was no other shelving. If I remember correctly the hair dryer was in a cloth bag hanging on the bathroom door.
Shower facilities were a standard tub shower though the showerhead was adjustable, which I liked a lot. I prefer a strong spray and that really felt good with my headache.
Toiletries were by Neutrogena and worked well enough. I was a little disappointed in the towels as they were not as soft as I’d hoped they’d be.
Breakfast is included if you are a Gold or Diamond Hilton Honors member and I believe it’s $10.90 if you’re not. It’s not a huge spread but there are a number of selections of pastries, fruit, cereals, etc. as well as a cook-to-order section. Having been awakened by my headache I was ready to eat shortly after the buffet opened at 6 AM so I could take some Tylenol for my head. Fortunately it was quiet that early on a Saturday and I enjoyed reading the free local newspaper as I ate.
The gym is small and has a few cardio machines as well as an adjustable bench, hand weights and a giant exercise ball.
The pool is also small but at least it’s indoors! There are also showers to its side so you can rinse off the chlorine when you’re done.
A small hot tub is right beside the pool as well.
Near the front desk is the business center which has a couple of desktop PCs and a printer.
In the end
The hotel isn’t flashy but is solid. I booked them primarily because they had a free shuttle and I knew with my Diamond status I’d get free breakfast. I got a nice large standard room, a good breakfast and a quiet place to sleep which is what I really needed.