Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ski Resort with Private Gates; Travel: The World's First Members-Only Ski Resort Has Opened in Montana. Felice Hardy Gets an Exclusive Pass

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ski Resort with Private Gates; Travel: The World's First Members-Only Ski Resort Has Opened in Montana. Felice Hardy Gets an Exclusive Pass

Article excerpt

Byline: FELICE HARDY

IMAGINE a giant, world-class ski resort without lift queues, where even during February half-term you pretty much have the whole mountain to yourself. Bill Gates doesn't have to, neither does former US vice-president Dan Quayle. They just jump on a private jet to the Yellowstone Club, Montana - the world's first private members' ski resort for the super-wealthy.

It's a cracking location - the same 22 square miles of rugged landscape Robert Redford used as the backdrop for his 1992 film A River Runs Through It.

The Yellowstone Club is larger than Jackson Hole or Beaver Creek in Colorado, and I skied on perfectly groomed pistes, smudged only by my own tracks. On the 13 lifts our group of four were the only passengers. The total number of skiers on 6,000 acres rarely reaches 30 on a busy day, so there's no need to worry about booking a table for lunch at the Timberline Cafe.

"It's like Christmas every day - but you can still find a challenge," said James Ruddy, one of the club's 30 instructors.

If you ride the Mountain Lift to the 9,860ft summit of Pioneer, you can descend a series of challenging 45-degree chutes on the face. The backside offers outstanding tree skiing and powder.

The Yellowstone Club's terrain is linked by piste and lift to the neighbouring resort of Big Sky, where there are a further 11 lifts and more expert runs. However, Big Sky skiers cannot ride the unique cluster chair-lift back up to Yellowstone.

There are plans to double the size of the ski area over the next five years, making it one of the largest in North America. There's also private cross-country skiing, dogsledding and snowshoeing.

Back at the Rainbow Lodge, Honolulu-trained chef Stanford Isobe has fresh fish flown in five times a week.

The dress code is jeans and shirts - very billionaire.

Fabled ski-filmmaker Warren Miller, 80, is the club's honorary skiing director and has made his home here. "Often there will only be eight or nine people on the hill - like it was when I was 25," recalls Warren.

There's not just skiing, either.

Former British Open champion Tom Weiskopf has designed a championship golf course nearby. …

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