Summer bookings up at Big Sky, Moonlight

By Emily Stifler explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BIG SKY – Big Sky Resort opened for the 2013 summer season on June 8 to sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 60s. Perfect weather for the upgrades it’s taking on.

The resort is putting $750,000 into the Mountain Mall this summer for phase 1 of a three-part “major facelift to enliven guest experience on the mountain,” according to Public Relations Manager Sheila Chapman, who joined the resort this month and previously worked as Whitefish Mountain Resort’s Sales Manager.

The building was constructed in 1973, and the remodel will allow the resort to use it for another 30-plus years, according to a press release from the resort. The plan is to keep the core structure intact, while altering the appearance and boosting energy efficiency.

Centre Sky Architecture, a local firm, designed the remodel, which will include “vertical textures and beams… to break up the massive hulk of the eastern and northern fascia of the building,” according to the release.

The general contractor, Bozeman-based RMR Group, began construction in May after the facilities closed for the winter season, and will be working on the project throughout the summer.

Big Sky Resort’s booking numbers are “seating really well” so far, Chapman said. “Last summer was a record year for us, and we’re already pacing 10-15 percent up in our convention bookings.” Individual travelers tend to book a little later in the summer, she noted.

Additionally, the financial group Edward Jones is bringing 150-200 employees per week, for six weeks, as part of an incentive program.

“The idea is for them to go and experience the area,” Chapman said. “We’re building this community as a place that’s family friendly with a lot of [activities]. That’s what draws the corporate events here… It’s really big for the community.”

Going into its opening weekend, June 15, Moonlight Basin’s summer lodging revenue on the books was pacing 64 percent ahead of the same time last year, according to Moonlight’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Karen Lum.

New for Moonlight this year is Camp Moonlight, a nature-based day camp for kids ages 3-15. Held July 29-31, camp is already full for the season. The resort will continue hosting its family-oriented Hike, Bike and BBQ events on Tuesdays starting July 2, as well as its Friday morning yoga on the deck, at the Moonlight Lodge.

Back down the road and inside the Mountain Mall, the retail space formerly occupied by Plum Logo has been split into two storefronts, Iconic, an Oakley concept shop, and Lone Peak Logo, which will sell Big Sky/Biggest Skiing in America logowear. Those and other businesses in the mall will remain open during the exterior remodel.

The space formerly occupied by C & P Grocery is undergoing its own remodel with a new operator, Hungry Moose Market & Deli.

Also in the Mountain Village, a Burton Snowboard Shop is this summer moving into the space formerly occupied by the real estate Discovery Center. Additionally, Big Sky is completely remodeling the hallways of the Huntley Lodge.

Big Sky Resort’s Basecamp – which runs activities like ziplines, Lone Peak Expedition, guided tours, paintball and archery – is also expanding this summer, installing a new, lift-accessed zipline tour, an evening wildlife tour, and cutting new glades in the Shedhorn and Dakota areas.

“What’s going to separate this zipline from the existing ones is you ride a lift to the top,” said Taylor Middleton, Big Sky’s general manager, explaining that to access the triple lines, each 1,000-1,500 feet long, guests must ride the Explorer Lift. “It’s very high-running over canyons, and it connects to the base area twin zipline. It’s going to be longer, higher, faster.”

The Lone Peak Expedition, which totes visitors to the top of Lone Mountain in summer and was new last year, is doubling its capacity this year, Middleton said, noting that Basecamp has added 60 new jobs at the resort since its inception five years ago.