Best of the Best: Private Resort Communities
Powder, privacy, and a pristine setting in Montana’s mountain wilderness.
Above the Montana town of Big Sky, several miles up a nondescript road that winds past farms and occasional housing developments, stands a stone-and-beam guard gate. No iron bars span its dual arches, and the only apparent impediment to entry is the sentry’s welcoming smile and wave.
Yet despite the guard’s nonchalance, visitors should make no mistake: The acres beyond this outpost (nearly 14,000 in total) remain distinctly private. Within this enclave, visitors will find, in winter, broad meadows blanketed in virgin snow; in summer, waving, wind-shadowed pastures of grass; forests of pine and fir ascending from the delicious depths of alpine valleys; and sweeping mountain peaks from whose heights one can gaze out to the farthest horizons upon the Gallatin and Madison mountain ranges. This vast, secluded, and extravagant wilderness has made Yellowstone Club unique in the realm of the residential resort—this, and what might be described as the property’s greatest luxury: its majestic silence.
Of course, while its 20 pristine square miles form the basis of the club’s appeal, the property, which opened in late 2000, furnishes much more. Director of skiing Warren Miller, renowned for his ski documentary films, manages the community’s 60 trails, which cover more than 2,000 acres and drop 2,700 vertical feet. In the milder seasons, members will enjoy a 7,000-plus-yard, 18-hole, par-72 golf course designed by Tom Weiskopf, the first nine holes of which open this summer. Trout fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, spa treatments, backcountry camping, and swimming in an infinity pool that overlooks the breathtaking valley vista round out—but certainly do not complete—the club’s roster of activities.
Members and their guests can indulge in three distinct dining experiences. The Buffalo Bar & Grill at the base of Pioneer Mountain offers casual cuisine, while the Timberline Café at the summit serves a buffet lunch against what may be the most spectacular top-of-the-world view from any North American restaurant. The Rainbow Lodge features elegant game and fish dishes complemented by an exceptional selection of wines.
Membership to Yellowstone Club is by invitation only. Becoming a member not only requires approval, but a $250,000 deposit, as well as annual dues of $16,000. Members, who have access to the club’s private jet center in Bozeman, must also be property owners. Homesites of two to six acres start at $1.1 million, while 160-acre ranches start at $6 million. Chalets and custom homes sell for from $2.9 million (unfinished) to well over $10 million. No price, however, can be placed on Yellowstone’s warmth, beauty, serenity, and silence.
With a new Tom Weiskopf–designed golf course, full access to the Four Seasons resort next door, and homesites and estates with Pacific Ocean views, the Hualalai Resort on Hawaii’s Big Island beckons for you to call it home.
The Big Island is a hotbed of real estate activity in Hawaii, and Hualalai occupies one of the most coveted coves on the Kohala Coast. The development began in 1996, and property values have since more than doubled in some cases. Prices now range from $4 million to $27 million for golf and oceanfront estates; $1.6 million to $14.5 million for undeveloped sites.
While the resort’s Jack Nicklaus course is open to residents and hotel guests, the Weiskopf track is reserved for homeowners. Other benefits include access to the private Canoe Club and the services of property management staff, who will maintain your home, pick you up from the airport, and have your favorite food waiting in the fridge.