Amidst the grandeur of the American Rocky Mountains, Gallatin River and Yellowstone National Park and set under a canopy of seemingly endless blue skies and star-filled nights is Montana.
Known locally as the Last Best Place, the region is untamed, wild and natural and is home to Yellowstone Club, the world’s only private ski and golf community. The club was recently awarded the most exclusive estate worldwide award for 2015 by New World Wealth thanks to its superior amenities, effortless charm and untouched natural beauty, which present an incomparable venue for luxurious family living and year-round recreational facilities.
Originally the brainchild of Tim Blixseth, who pieced together more than 100 000 acres of undevelopable timberland and swapped it for land on the back end of what was known as Big Sky Resort, the club has exchanged ownership since its inception in the late 1990s. Nonetheless, by the mid-2000s, plots and homes at Yellowstone Club were selling for seven-figure sums and, in the last two years alone, nearly $1 billion in real estate value has already been sold. Membership has doubled to more than 500 households from 260 in 2009 and now includes the likes of Bill Gates and Hollywood producer Peter Chernin, as well as hedge fund managers, well-known celebrities, professional athletes and notable captains of industry.
A central location, just one hour from Bozeman in Montana, as well as being in close proximity to other major metropolitan areas throughout the country means that homeowners now spend an average of 60 days a year at the club. Those residents accessing the estate from afar can do so either via commercial airline or private jet service organised by the estate.
Despite the prime location, homeowners are guaranteed an exceptional, highly personalised service and total exclusivity, with a little over 860 residential properties spread over 13 600 acres of rolling land. Only members, their families and guests have access to the club and patrons must own their property, although there are approximately 70 residents in a rental programme. This rental scheme is exclusively for members and their guests and is particularly helpful if a resident is in the process of building in their home or if they are undecided as to where on the estate they would like to live.
Residential options range from custom-designed single-family residences and carefully harvested timber wood chalets to enormous ranches set on 160 acres of land, as well as furnished and unfurnished condos and townhouses with one to eight bedrooms. The smallest condos cost approximately $3 million, whilst single-family homes start at $5 million, and there is also an initial fee of $300 000, in addition to $36 000 a year for dues.
For those wanting to build their dream house, plots are available and range from just under an acre in size to 350 acres and retail at anything from $1.8 million. The majority of properties offer ski accessibility or golf course frontage coupled with spectacular views of the surrounding 10 000-foot peaks and blue-ribbon trout streams.
The private skiing facility at Yellowstone Club rivals the world’s top ski resorts and offers visitors 15 lifts, more than 60 trails and in excess of 2200 acres of snow. Dropping 2700 vertical feet, the mountain receives an average total annual snowfall of approximately 300 inches and the superlative ski features include trails ranging from relaxed, groomed runs and steep above tree line chutes to gladed skiing in knee-deep snow. For snowboarders, there is the additional designated snowboarders’ park. Expert instruction and guiding for skiers and snowboarders for all ages and experience levels are available all winter season, as are Nordic skiing, snow shoeing, sledding and snowmobiling practices. Homeowners are able to make use of the 5800 acres of skiable terrain at the adjacent public ski areas of Big Sky Resort, giving them access to the largest contiguous skiable terrain in North America.
The 140 000ft² Warren Miller Lodge at the base of Pioneer Mountain as well as three additional dining lodges on the mountain and snack comfort stations across the estate provide the perfect rest for skiers and snowboarders.
Keen golfers will undoubtedly be attracted to the 18-hole course designed by British Open and Senior Open champion, Tom Weiskopf. Boasting breathtaking vistas, it is known as one of the most dramatic mountain golf courses in the world and the Mountain Lodge Golf Clubhouse, currently under construction, will be a spectacular mountain amenity with dining facilities and six one-bedroom suites as well as locker rooms.
Yellowstone Club membership is capped at 864 families. Membership advantages include access of the ski lodge and golf clubhouse as well as the three on-mountain dining lodges in the winter and the camp house poolside grille in the summer, offering a range of dining opportunities. A state-of-the-art fitness facility with personal training services, tennis and basketball courts, outdoor pool, spa with treatment rooms, and locker rooms are also available. Members’ retail shops for fashion, active wear and summer and winter sporting equipment and an on-site business centre are also available for residents and the community employs professional public safety and security staff, including a fully equipped fire department and an emergency medical services team to provide immediate response to members in the event of an accident.
Harvesting the family friendly nature of the estate is the youth centre, featuring a movie theatre, rock climbing wall, indoor basketball facility as well as arts and crafts, arcade games and programmes and separate dining.
Discovery Land Company’s signature lifestyle and recreation concierge programme is designed to assist members with every aspect of enjoying their time at Yellowstone Club. In addition to helping with day-to-day duties, the outdoor pursuits team organises group and personalised activities, including hiking and adventures inside the expansive backcountry of Yellowstone Club and the surrounding area. A rope course, zip line and mountain biking trips as well as guided horseback riding, kayaking and white water rafting, fly fishing and other outdoor excursions are also available, as are wildlife trips to view elk, moose, bear and other animals, along with Yellowstone National Park Kids’ camps and field adventure. The outdoor pursuit team also offers youth services, daytime activities and day care services.
An economic engine for the area, Yellowstone Club employs 700 people in the winter and 450 in the summer, and a growing number of external contractors. Unlike the residential estates in South Africa, Yellowstone Club has no fences and, instead, uses the surrounding 250 000 acres of Gallatin National Forest and a security team run by a former Secret Service officer to ensure the security of all residents.
With its focus on family fun and overwhelming magnitude, this esteemed community is now the gold standard for like-minded communities and affluent individuals wanting what is arguably one of the best addresses in the world.