Big Sky's Moment of Glory
Bloomberg Businessweek|October 18 - 25, 2021
The most rugged resort in Montana gets speedy lifts, luxury hotels, and fine dining to match its extreme slopes
By Jen Murphy & Chris Rovzar

When Dave Stergar started skiing at Montana’s Big Sky Resort in the early 1990s, few lifts had safety bars, and most moved at a snail’s pace through 15-degree temperatures and 30 mph winds. After offloading, he’d then have to hike an hour to reach the extreme runs off the 11,166-foot Lone Peak.

Stergar, a 54-year-old retired middle school teacher from Helena, Mont., was one of the many die-hards happily willing to forgo the comforts of a full-amenity resort to race down Big Sky’s 50-degree chutes; narrow, no- mistakes couloirs; and leg-burning, 6-mile bowl runs all by himself. With more skiable acres than Telluride and Jackson Hole combined—and 4,350 vertical feet—it rivaled anything he’d experienced in France or Italy.

Now, some 30 years later, Big Sky has a lift system to match. When Stergar checked into his vacation home there in December, he found himself zipping along on a heated chairlift (shielded by a wind-resistant bubble) to his favorite double blacks in the high alpine terrain.

In 2016, Michigan-based Boyne Resorts, owner of Big Sky, unveiled a 10-year, $150 million capital investment plan to transform not just the resort but also the small mountain community bearing the same name from a remote outpost to a full-fledged luxury destination.

Boyne Resorts was founded in 1947 by late visionary Everett Kircher. It purchased Big Sky in 1976. Since then it’s acquired other properties such as Sugarloaf in Maine and the Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, making the family-owned company the third-largest ski operator in North America behind conglomerates Vail Resorts Inc. and Alterra Mountain Co.

Now run by Kircher’s son Stephen, Boyne is looking to make Big Sky more of a diamond and less “in the rough.” Fast, comfortable chairlifts are just one part of the enhancement plan. The Chamonix-inspired lifestyle—with its posh après-ski spots and leisurely, on-piste lunches—is up next. “Our goal is to be America’s Alps,” says Kircher.

His dream has a ways to go. But on opening day this year—slated for Nov. 25—the resort will welcome the fastest six-person chairlift in North America as well as two huge hotel renovation projects. On Dec. 15 the area’s first five-star resort, Montage Big Sky, will open with 150 rooms and ski-in, ski-out access. The town itself will get an ice rink this season, just one piece of a $20 million community center that’s expected to open by March, complete with a climbing wall and art galleries.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEKView All

A Crash Course in Omicronomics

Sussing out the impact of the new coronavirus variant on growth and inflation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The New Fighter At the CFPB

Rohit Chopra wants to know more about tech companies’ plans for financial products

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Next on Your Plate: Bug Burgers

The faux-meat industry is starting to explore fruit fly patties and mealworm nuggets

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Ready Aim Omicron!

Drugmakers always knew variants would arise. The latest will test their preparedness

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Crossing Borders With Crypto

A Mexico-based startup says it can send remittances from the U.S. cheaper and faster

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

Treasure Hunters Of the Stalled Supply Chain

For salvage companies, an unclaimed shipping container is a potentially profitable mystery box

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

In the EV Age, Hyundai Still Has High Hopes for Hydrogen Cars

The South Korean automaker sees fuel-cell technology as key to decarbonizing global transportation

4 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The Next Accounting Fiasco

Twenty years after Enron’s failure, investors are still vulnerable to corporate numbers games

5 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

When Same-Day Delivery Is Too Slow

Gopuffis trying to outrace its competitors in the “dark convenience store” business

6 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 06, 2021

The Most Broken Business in America

Biden’s Build Back Better plan may make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go belly up first

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
November 22 - 29, 2021
RELATED STORIES

When the Humans are Away

Montana’s remote Crazy Mountains are a playground for more than just hikers.

4 mins read
Backpacker
September - October 2021

Virginia City, Montana

This city struck it rich with a well-preserved ghost town.

3 mins read
True West
September 2021

SHOULD WILDLIFE BE PRIVATE PROPERTY?

Montana’s legislature wants to turn big game hunting into a sport for elites.

4 mins read
Men's Journal
May - June 2021

TOP 7 QB competitions

The 49ers are headed for a battle royale at the all-important quarterback position this summer — and perhaps for the rest of this season, and possibly even years to come — as holdover starter Jimmy Garoppolo takes on the challenge presented by rookie Trey Lance, the youngster San Francisco invested in heavily to take Garoppolo’s job as soon as Lance is ready.

4 mins read
Niner Report
August 2021

THE 2020 ULTIMATE ADVENTURE LONG RANGE JEEP

Part 7: How’d the Jeep do on the trip, and ever since?

9 mins read
Four Wheeler
July 2021

Eye of the Storm

Foul-weather backcountry days have an allure all their own.

1 min read
Backpacker
May - June 2021

A Big Sky Adventure

FROM THE MAGIC CITY OF THE PLAINS TO THE LITTLE BIGHORN AND THE “GRANDEST” TRADING POST OF THE FUR TRADE, A ROAD TRIP THROUGH EASTERN MONTANA OFFERS NO SHORTAGE OF FRONTIER FUN.

7 mins read
True West
April 2021

Bears & Gobblers

SPRING BEAR & TURKEY IN MONTANA

9 mins read
Bear Hunting Magazine
January - February 2021

ULTIMATE ADVENTURE

PART 2: WILDLIFE, NATIONAL TREASURES, AND EXTREME WHEELING

9 mins read
Four Wheeler
February 2021

Autumn Hudson

Hard Work and Evolution with Tattoo Artist Autumn Hudson

5 mins read
Skin Art
Issue 175