Paws Up Resort in Greenough, Montana is set on a 37,000 acre family-run ranch of pristine wilderness, with a large river and islands and has, in more bustling times, a maximum capacity of 250 guests. It’s like a private national park. And it’s open for business. Now.
There is almost certainly no better place to practice social distancing. The resort is twice the size of Manhattan. At Paws Up all the accommodations are either private homes, or glamping in a luxurious “tent,” and there’s plenty of acreage in between. It’s the kind of privacy and space that attracts celebrities wanting a break, or urbanites sick of jostling with commuters, who can afford the escape, because this extraordinary place isn’t cheap (although they are offering some great deals at the moment, given how few people are traveling).
As Alison Lewis, a representative for the resort, told me: “You can do a whole trip here and not have to be seen if you don’t want to be.”
Montana is looking more tempting than ever. Sparsely populated, the state has been isolated from the worst of the outbreak with only 433 confirmed cases at the time of writing this. And the wilderness offers endless opportunities for entertainment and replenishment. The Paws Up resort is currently fully operational, aside from the two main restaurants — one for dinner and one for breakfast/lunch, both due to reopen May 4th — and the bar and spa. (During glamping season they have six other restaurants, which are dining pavilions at each camp. Glamping season is from mid May to mid October, and they expect to be open on time, “with some modified use of space to allow for more guest separation.”)
They are currently hosting a handful of guests who are mostly local or from nearby states. They’re offering horseback and ATV tours through the picturesque property, and there are miles of hiking trails and some of the best fly fishing in the world on the Blackfoot River. All of this is untouched by the coronavirus pandemic, and, for that matter, the rest of civilization.
In this uncertain time, the Paws Up staff, under the apparently rather scrupulous direction of Managing Director Steve Hurst, are going the extra mile to address any trepidations. For instance, if you fly in, two staffers driving separate vehicles pick you up. You get a Lexus NX for the duration of your stay, and you follow the staffers to the resort without coming in contact with them. In fact, for the time being all interactions at the resort are contactless.
Steve has 25 years of experience running luxury resorts and hotels from Greenwich Village to Chicago to Portland. “It’s a unique time and a learning time. As a whole, though, if there were any point in my career where I would be doing something like this, I’m pretty sure Greenough, Montana is the right spot.”
With the restaurant closed, meals are served in the personal lodgings. “What we’ve really done in all this is upped the ante for in home dining,” Steve notes. An introvert at heart, this sounds ideal to me, especially when the digs are this exquisite.
Steve is in regular contact with Montana state health officials for guidance and policy updates. “The [state] health department and our governor are doing a tremendous job. When you get to witness that, it’s pretty exciting to do business,” he says.
As dog lovers, the owners have always wanted to emulate the feeling of welcome and excitement that a dog gives their human companion, hence the name — Alison told me that Paws Up is like when a dog jumps up on you to greet you.
Their newest development on property, which they are calling Green-O, is an adults only, sustainability-focused resort with sleek, modern designed homes nestled in the trees. They hope to have these open by August.