Rustic Luxury

In the middle of the Montana wilderness, a resort destination offers opulence along with outdoor adventure.
The glass walls of a Tree Haus create the impression that you're living inside one of the forest's mighty pines.

At first blush, labeling a resort property “America’s Private National Park” might seem like a bit of a reach, but the green o resort, situated outside of Missoula, Montana, can back up its claim. The destination sits on 37,000 acres of dense pine forests and lush green pastures, punctuated by the roaring Blackfoot River. The property, which is also a working ranch, is a destination for people who love nature and want to experience it in style. The green o delivers with beautifully designed accommodations, an extraordinary—and exclusive—culinary program, and an extensive list of outdoor activities ranging from trail riding to guided fly fishing.

But for all of its polish, it’s surprisingly grounded—and that’s a good thing. While the service is topnotch, there is a genuine quality to all of the staff, and the resort’s no-gratuity policy eradicates any sense of “other” as you interact. Instead, you feel as though you’re a part of an exclusive community, not just a paying guest.

“People who come to both the green o absolutely appreciate the finer things in life, but they aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dirty,” says Larry Lipson, co-owner and managing director of the resort. “They want to experience things in the outdoors they’ve never tried before—all the time knowing that they can retreat back to a stellar accommodation, with all the creature comforts they’re used to enjoying.”

The green o is an extension of Paws Up, a high-end, family-friendly resort that opened to much acclaim in 2005. The owners pioneered the idea of glamping, setting up three canvas tents filled with luxe furnishings and an upscale twist on traditional cowboy decor. Guests came in droves, and these days, Paws Up boasts 36 tents, some of them with multiple bedrooms. But as the resort’s popularity with families exploded, the Lipson family saw an opportunity to carve out a luxury property for an adult-only crowd.

The Lipson family collectively designed the entire property, including the Social Haus and the 12 private “Hauses.” All of the accommodations share a clean, Scandinavian style that is at once fresh and timeless. But each residence has its own spin—there are three distinct models, all constructed with sustainability in mind. The Tree Haus is perhaps the most iconic, with enormous glass walls that offer incredible views of the dense pine forest below. “We wanted to preserve as many of the trees as possible—around the Hauses and throughout the resort,” Lipson says. He succeeded: fewer than six mature pines were cut down in the building of all of the structures on the green o property.

“The goal was to create the appearance that the buildings were dropped right into the middle of the forest with an absolute minimal footprint and no impact on the surroundings,” says Lipson.

Green o guests dine at the Social Haus, which serves as a gathering place as well as the resort’s exclusive restaurant. The warm interiors were designed by Kristen Becker of Mutuus Studio, and here, guests are treated to a nightly multi-course tasting menu that rivals anything you’d find in New York or Los Angeles. Executive Chef Brandon Cunningham delivers a new tasting menu every day, tailored to seasonal ingredients sourced nearby. The restaurant only seats 24 (the capacity of the resort) so the experience feels incredibly intimate, with highly personalized service.

The scale of culinary ambition is astonishing, with a dazzling lineup of colors, flavors, and textures coming out of the restaurant’s open kitchen. The dishes are refined, but like the resort itself, there is a sense of adventure and playfulness in the food. Guests were delighted by the appearance of a make-your-own wagyu beef slider in one of the meals, and raved about a dessert of pickled huckleberries with a sweet corn crumble. Pair your meal with curated wines, or opt for one of the signature cocktails from the full bar.

The names of the dishes are understated, which only makes the culinary wonders that arrive at your table all the more delightful. A bar snack casually labeled “Chips and Dip” is, in actuality, a generous portion of golden, housemade potato chips dusted with an addictive onion-based seasoning. And the dip? It puts ranch dressing to shame with a sprinkle of edible flowers and a generous dollop of caviar—salty, tangy, creamy, crunchy perfection.

A grand central fireplace anchors the property’s Social Haus.

Why go through the effort to create an entirely new lineup of dishes each night? Cunningham explains it this way: “We really want to create a sense of mystery, surprise, and delight when it came to each night’s tasting menu. Luckily for us, it has been received very well.”

“The guests of the green o are seasoned travelers who have eaten at some of the finest restaurants around the world,” says Lipson. “What truly surprises these patrons about the Social Haus is experiencing such an incredibly high level of culinary detail, originality, and creativity deep in the Montana forest at the end of a dirt road.” But that unpaved road is exactly why guest seek out this place. After all, if you’re spending time in the nation’s private national park, you want to keep your experience on the wild side.

Facebook Comments