Reflections on a Record Breaking Ski Season

image016

Big Sky Resort closes the winter season with another year of record breaking skier visitation at 473,000, up seven and a half percent over the previous year with the combined Moonlight Basin. Big Sky Resort Lodging also had a remarkable season, up 25 percent over last season with the merger of Moonlight Basin properties.

“The entire Big Sky community experienced record breaking visitation and commerce this winter,” said Taylor Middleton, General Manager of Big Sky Resort. “As a matter of fact, this was our third consecutive high mark. The brand and marketing horsepower of The Biggest Skiing in America has put Big Sky on every skiers bucket list.”

The Big Sky Resort community exceeded expectations when holiday skier visits were up 15 percent over the previous year’s remarkable holiday season. The busiest ski day in the resort’s history was on December 29, 2013 with over 7,500 skiers on the mountain and five days crossing the 7,000 skier visit mark.

Big Sky Resort is known for consistent snowfall and this winter Mother Nature kept it consistent in abundance ranking this winter in the top six snowfall season in the Resort’s history. “It was an epic snow year; one of the best ever,” commented Middleton. “This was an very long season and season pass holders really got their money’s worth, especially considering the Biggest Skiing in America pass product was priced lower than ever before.”

“My hat’s off to the brilliant staff of over 1,400 employees that came together to integrate Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin operations. It was very smooth, and they made something that was very complicated look easy,” stated Middleton. In October 2013 Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin integrated into one resort linking 5,750 acres of skiable terrain under a single lift ticket and truly became the “Biggest Skiing in America” with 4,350 vertical feet, 29 chair and surface lifts, over 290 marked ski runs and a tram to the 11,166 foot Lone Peak.

Cheers to another great season, and don’t forget to buy your season passes for next year by April 30, for the early season pass pricing.

Off-Season Bucket List

image017

In late April, with a number of sun-filled, bluebird days, there’s no doubt that spring is in the air in Big Sky, Montana. And although there may still be some snow underfoot, there also may be wildflowers and spring buds peaking through.

With the winter sports wrapping up and summer activities still a month or so out, this is what Big Sky residents refer to as “off-season.” Just like the spring season, this is a great time of year to rejuvenate, and enjoy some of the things you don’t get to take advantage of during busier times.

Here are some activities to add to your off-season bucket list:

Enjoy the last of the snow. It’s not like there are many lift lines at Big Sky Ski Resort to begin with, but try an off-season backcountry snowshoe and/or cross country ski on one of the many surrounding trails and be prepared to have the solace of the woods all to yourself.

Visit local hot springs. There’s nothing like some hot water to soak away a ski season’s worth of sore muscles. Within a two-hour radius, we have Chico, Norris, and Bozeman Hot Springs. Or scout out other natural hot pots such as the Boiling River or Potosi Hot Springs (which sits in the middle of a field). For more info, see http://www.bozemanhotsprings.com

Plan your garden. Although the ground may still be frozen, this is the perfect time to plot out your garden and shop for seeds, pots, and gardening supplies. It’s also a good time to plant seeds indoors to get a head start on the growing season.

Home improvement & spring cleaning. Off-season is a great time to finish those home improvement projects you’ve been putting off. Paint your living room or bedroom a new color. Shampoo your carpets, and clean out your desk drawer. Clean out your garage!

Dust off the barbecue. Dust off the deck furniture, get the grill out of hibernation, and invite some friends over for a cookout on a sunny afternoon. Accompanied by fun, springy drinks, a barbecue can really get you ex­cited for summer.

Catch up on films. There will most likely be a few rainy days in April and May, and what better time for a movie marathon. Netflix anyone? Watch all the winners from the Oscars that you haven’t seen yet.

Visit Yellowstone National Park. We live right next to a natural wonderland! This is the perfect time for a drive or bike ride through the park. Many animals are out in the spring, and you may be some of the only tourists at some sites. For road info, check outhttp://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/parkroads.htm

Have an Art Walk. Spend a day in Downtown Bozeman or Livingston and stroll through the galleries. You’ll be amazed at the quality and variety of art that’s at your fingertips. Stay for lunch and make a day of it!

Whatever you do over off-season, enjoy your spring in Big Sky!

Property Roundup: Horse-Friendly Properties

Property Roundup: Horse-Friendly Properties

Montana is a horse’s paradise and an equestrian’s ideal home. With numerous pristine trails to explore, enticing mountains in which to escape for camping trips, and an abundance of well-equipped properties available, Big Sky country is the perfect place for horses—and their human companions—to enjoy a healthy, happy, active lifestyle. Set up a time with your agent to explore some of the heavenly, horse-friendly homes below:

image019

42 Cottonwood Lane, Ennis, MT

Both Copper Creek and Jack Creek Spur wind through this stunning homestead, which features a 3-acre horse pasture and loafing shed. Adjacent to the property is the 2,000-acre Channels Ranch, a conservation easement that is richly abundant in wildlife. The 5-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home is also a magnificent must-see creation by an internationally renowned architect, with an incredibly 55-ton river rock fireplace at its heart.

image021

298 Ridge Fork Road, Big Sky, MT

This 22-acre hideaway boasts what is arguably the best barn in Big Sky, with four stalls—each with its own runout—a separate shower bay, ample hay storage, a garage for three cars plus an RV, and, on the second floor, a deluxe guest house. The main house features 6 bedrooms with stunning views, and captures an authentic Montana spirit with natural stone and log accents. Give your horses room to roam on spacious pastures and access over 85 kilometers of trails from Lone Mountain Ranch, which is just down the road.

image022

80 Elk Ridge Road, Cameron, MT

With stables, expansive pasture, and a riverfront setting, this home is an equestrian’s, hunter’s, and fly fisher’s utopia. The exquisitely designed and decorated 3-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot house is nestled within an exclusive gate community and comes with a guest residence. Beautiful organic elements of stone, marble, metal, and wood unite in this gorgeous home. It’s a true animal lover’s paradise that appeals to all the senses.

image025

5429 Canvasback Road, Island Park, ID

A state-of-the-art equestrian barn is just one feature of this totally unique property, destined to be the beloved retreat of a true lover of the outdoors. With 500 feet of Henry’s Lake frontage, a private pond, and easy access to seven other area lakes, this 8.75-acre property is as ideal for fishing as it is for riding. Enjoy the natural warmth of a 3-bedroom log home, and invite friends and family to come stay in the spacious guest quarters. In the fall, the property is a haven for elk, which love the abundant native grasses.

image027

9355 Trooper Trail, Bozeman, MT

This stately home on 20 acres was the former residence of pro golfer Steve Jones, who retrofitted the detached horse barn with a putting green and a basketball court, as well as plenty of extra storage for recreational toys. A floor-to-ceiling fireplace warms the 5-bedroom home, which features ample open spaces that are ideal for entertaining, and a kitchen outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to delight any cook. Though mere minutes from Bozeman, this multifaceted retreat offers ultimate privacy.

image028

2139 E River Road, Livingston, MT

In the heart of Paradise Valley, surrounded by breathtaking peaks, there’s no better place to hop on a horse and ride off into the sunset. This custom home, with detailed designs and finishes throughout, sits on 16 plus acres bordering a large ranch, and close to Chico and Pine Creek.

Vivian Bridaham, Managing Broker Bozeman

image056

Vivian joined the Big Sky Sotheby’s International team in October 2013 as the managing broker for Bozeman, Montana. Growing up in Chicago, she was drawn to the West and traded in city life for ranch life, owning and operating a cattle ranch in Montana’s Ruby Valley for many years. This well-rounded background led her to specialize in land, ranches, and estates in the Gallatin, Paradise and Madison Valleys and throughout the entire state.

What’s your real estate background?

I started my own real estate firm in 1995, working mostly with those interested in buying ranches around the state of Montana. In 2000, I went to work for Jackson Hole Sotheby’s as the Bozeman broker. I knew that I wanted to work for Sotheby’s, and there were only two in the state. I worked for the Glacier Sotheby’s for a bit and finally came on with Big Sky Sotheby’s International.

Why were you passionate about working for Sotheby’s?

My mother was an art historian, and my father was a museum director, so I grew up in the art world. Real estate had been my primary interest. So working with the very well established Sotheby’s brand was a good fit, because of their history as an art auction house and more recently in real estate.

What brought you to Montana?

I grew up in Chicago, went to the Cornell Hotel School, and was in the hotel business for 10 years. I was intrigued by the West and invested in my first land in Steamboat, Colorado in 1968. Then in 1977, I invested in a cattle ranch with some partners in the Madison Valley. We sold that and bought a larger ranch in the Upper Ruby Valley, one that borders Ted Turner’s Snowcrest Ranch. I was a cattle rancher with my husband, and learned a lot about ranching and land.

Do you think your background benefits your real estate clients?

I grew up in a city in the Midwest, and I know firsthand about ranching in Montana. With this background, I understand where my clients are coming from, and I understand good land and good locations for them.

What’s your favorite thing about living in the Gallatin Valley?

The incredible views and vistas and space, the safety and security. It’s just an amazing place to live. I’ve been in Bozeman now since 1988, and I love this community. I’m a Charter Board Member of the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, and I’m very interested in conservation. I believe in preserving land; that’s what Montana stands for. I work with a lot of ranchers who put land into easements.

What kind of tips do you offer buyers today?

There are still amazing deals here in the Gallatin Valley and most of the state. It’s a really good time to buy. We are definitely below the high of the market. I think we will start seeing some price appreciation this year.

Besides real estate, what else are you involved with?

Right now, I’m selling my parents art collection. It’s 900 works of art that were collected by my parents from 1920 to 1990. Many are by artists from Chicago and New York City in the 1930s and 40s, people that were friends of my parents or in the art field. I’m mostly selling to dealers in Chicago and New York, to some clients here, and art collectors.

What’s your favorite way to unwind?

I was originally in the restaurant and hotel industry, and I love to cook and entertain. I’m interested in wine and food. And hiking and biking and travel.

For any of your Bozeman or Gallatin Valley real estate needs, or for questions about land and ranches throughout Montana, contact Vivian Bridaham at 406-586-4408 (office) or 406-580-7516 (cell). To learn more about her listings and art collection, see www.bridahamcollection.com.

Spring Event Roundup

image031

Alas, April is the last month of another amazing ski season. And in celebration of the sun and spring snow, events on and off the mountain are far from sparse as the Big Sky lifestyle continues to thrive. With activities that celebrate both the ski community as well as Montana culture in general, everyone can find something to do during April in Big Sky.

April 3rd – Big Sky Shootout

The Big Sky Shootout is a Big Sky must! This Ski and Snowboard contest highlights our great resort as contestants have one week to gather footage on Big Sky terrain and create a short film. Winners are chosen at the screening on April 3rd at the Lone Peak Cinema at 8pm. Come support our local filmmakers!

April 4th – Live Music in the Ranch Saloon, Ric and Linda Steinke

“Music that captures the spirit of the American West” is how Ric and Linda’s music has been described. This duo plays a compilation of old western standards and today’s western folk, along with outstanding acoustics. See them the 4th and the 5th from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Lone Mountain Ranch Saloon.

April 4th – Live Music at the Riverhouse- SOAP (Pink Floyd Tribute)

One of the best tribute bands in Montana! Help celebrate a band that still lives in our culture today by attending the show starting at 8:00 p.m. in the Gallatin Riverhouse Grill. Make sure to try the food; the BBQ is some of the best in Big Sky. Just minutes from the Big Sky town center at 45130 Gallatin Rd, Big Sky, MT 59730. Admission is free.

April 5th – Sunset Saturdays

Starting April 5th, the Ramcharger lift at Big Sky will be staying open until 5 p.m. on Saturdays until the last day of the season. This is a great way to view the beautiful evening light on the mountains and to get an extra hour in on Saturdays before the season ends!

April 1st-5th – Sleigh Ride Dinners at Lone Mountain Ranch

There’s still time to try Montana’s famous “Big Sky Original Sleigh Ride Dinner!” Guests are transported on horse drawn sleights to a remote North Fork cabin for a Montana sized prime rib dinner cooked on an old-fashioned wood-fired stove and great entertainment by local singer/songwriters. The cost is $78 for Adults and $59 for children (4-12). Call 406-995-2783 or email sleighrides@lmranch.com.

April 7th – Line Dance Lessons at Bucks T-4

If you want to improve your body, your health, your coordination and your mind, join Veda Barner for Beginner Line Dance Lessons at 5:45 p.m. in Buck T-4’s dance hall (Montana room). No partner needed. Men & Women are welcome. The cost of the class is $5.00 per lesson. Fun!

April 11th  Live Music at the Riverhouse-Champagne Thursdays

Another great local band will be playing live at the Riverhouse. Admission is free and it is yet another way to soak up Big Sky culture. Music starts at 8:30.

April 12th – The 10th Annual Snowshoe Shuffle

Support the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter! The Snowshoe Shuffle will begin at Big Sky’s Madison Village Base Area. Registration begins at 5:30 pm and the course opens at 6 pm. $25 per person (includes snowshoe rental, goodie bag, music and a chili dinner). Children 12 and under are FREE. After enjoying the torch-lit course, return to the Headwaters Grille for dinner and music by The Gettin’ Up Early Boys! For more information, see http://www.heartofthevalleyshelter.org/

April 19th – Pond Skim

Another ski season means another wild and crazy Pond Skim! Pond Skim 2014 is presented by Pabst Blue Ribbon and commences at 3:00 p.m. Come be part of the tradition! The price is $25 to register if you want to take the plunge. There will also be an after party at Whiskey Jack’s at 5:00 p.m. One of the most celebrated days in Big Sky!

April 19th-20th  Keely’s Ski Camp for Girls

The Ultimate Girls Weekend at Big Sky! During these two days on the snow, young girls who want to improve their confidence and big mountain skiing skills are encouraged and guided in a pressure free environment.  Cost is $375 and includes: video analysis so girls can gain visual perspective of their skiing strengths and weaknesses; avalanche awareness education; coaching from big mountain pros, Olympians, and ski racing champions; discounted lift tickets. For more information and registration, go tohttp://keelyscamp.com/

Enjoy the last days of the season!