Melding Montana’s past and present

Montage Big Sky, a new modern alpine retreat featuring 139 artfully designed guestrooms, suites and residences nestled within Big Sky’s Spanish Peaks enclave in Montana, has taken its design cues from the state’s illustrious past and present.

BraytonHughes Design Studios is responsible for designing all the resort’s public spaces—including seven dining outlets, more than 12,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space and multiple recreational areas—in addition to the accommodations. Using a palette of timeless materials that evoke a sense of place, including regional wood and stones, the design team created a fresh expression of modern luxury. Overarching themes—grandeur, authenticity and renewal—bring a visual and conceptual cohesion to the resort that elevates the guest and residential experience.

“The resort melds together Montana’s past and present in a modern alpine retreat that departs from the typical rustic feel of a park lodge,” said Joel Villalon, executive advisor/principal, BraytonHughes Design Studios. “Montana’s history was shaped by mining, timbering, ranching and an agrarian way of life, and a new Montana economy is growing out of these seeds: tourism, real estate, construction and recreation. This new economy is inspiring a different aesthetic regarding mountain architecture. CrossHarbor Capital Partners, who partnered with Montage Hotels & Resorts and BraytonHughes to bring the new resort to life, had a vision for a more contemporary aesthetic reflecting this forward thinking, while honoring the elements of the past.”

BraytonHughes drew from the grandeur of the resort’s surrounding landscape for design inspiration. Double-height spaces with soaring gables in the ballroom, living room and lobby bar embody the iconic Spanish Peaks on the horizon line.

“From an FF&E standpoint, we wanted to connect guests to Big Sky with an elegant outdoor theme expressed in patterns, textures and materials,” he said. “The carpet concepts draw from geological topographical maps and nature, and the color palette reflects natural hues that are prevalent in that part of the country. The custom area rug in the living room off the main lobby references clouds and the sky through moody grays and blues, and earthy crème tones. The reception area rug features a palette of dark, neutral, baked brown with grays and sandy undertones, with a carpet pattern on the grand stair that harkens to tree bark. In the lobby bar and lounge, greens and blues in the fabrics and finishes subtly reinforce the verdant woods and rivers near Big Sky.”

In Spa Montage Big Sky, the design team wanted to create a geometric interpretation of walking into a grotto or cave with origami-influenced walls that are faceted, bright and unexpected. Surfaces appear like rocks that have been abstracted and sliced from a boulder. Angled millwork and cove lighting contribute a sense of calm and reflect a unique interpretation of the organic beauty of nature that draws so many to the rivers, trails, valleys and mountainous landscapes of Big Sky. Certain artworks speak to the idea of grandeur by depicting the region’s majestic snow-topped mountains or its clear skies, while others suggest the vastness of nature through abstracted canvases of deep blues and lush greens.

“In designing the interiors, our team at BraytonHughes aimed to uphold this vision of looking forward into the future while infusing references to historical architecture and structures,” said Villalon. “The Living Room features a contemporary take on a traditional fireplace. Positioned like you might see wood timber horizontally stacked in a log cabin style, the fireplace imitates this composition using stone instead of wood. The leathered stone is precise and linear and laid in slabs in a way that harkens to the traditional log cabin aesthetic.”

Curated by Farmboy Fine Arts, the art collection at Montage Big Sky celebrates this region of Montana as a site of convergence, a conception of place with a multitude of meanings.

Showcasing a wide array of contemporary artists, from local and regional to global as well as from emerging to established, the art collection centers on the narrative of Big Sky as a site of geographical confluence that celebrates nature’s range and splendor. The narrative also points to Big Sky as a connection point that brings together multiple local indigenous populations, a rancher culture with a rich history and visitors and travelers from around the world. From prints and photographs to mixed-media paintings and weavings, the artwork at Montage Big Sky honors the majestic landscape and encourages visitors to discover new points of conversation, engagement and connection, from the public spaces to areas for private retreat.

The designers took iconic elements from Montana’s old economy—from mining, timber, agriculture and ranching—and created something contemporary and reflective of the new economy, where winter sports, fly-fishing, hiking and biking are king, and technology is increasingly infiltrating the environment. Incorporating references to Big Sky’s history and nature into the design, the resort melds together Montana’s past and present in a mountain oasis that departs from the typical rustic feel of a park lodge.

In the public spaces, the contemporary use of local stone, timber and metal acts as a nod to the region’s history and helps ground the place in Montana. In the living room, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces bookend the room with horizontally stacked stone, a contemporary twist on the log cabin vernacular. The hardware in guestroom bathrooms has a black finish like you might see in a blacksmith shop, and the stone on the counters is variegated, with a finish that gives a raw-edge appearance, as if it were cut from a mountain. And in the lobby bar, an all-black, metal fireplace emerges from the ceiling in the center of the room. In the artwork, authenticity appears not only in intimate portraits of cowboys, ranchers and horses, but also through handmade pieces that incorporate organic or earthen materials and celebrate local and historic craftsmanship.

Guestrooms showcase a modern aesthetic with rustic hues and a neutral color palette with pops of color in small details. Textured materials, such as a smokey blue mohair sectional, contribute a sense of coziness to the guest experience. Several artworks contain textures that convey warmth and calm, while others reference active resort activities or exploratory adventures in nature. Acting as a luxurious yet welcoming home base from which to explore Big Sky and Yellowstone, the finely appointed residences at Montage Big Sky range from two-bedroom homes at approximately 2,300 sq. ft., to six-bedroom homes at more than 8,000 sq. ft.

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