The storybook stage of the green o presents a still and peaceful season. There are squirrels clawing their way up the thick bark of towering pines, woodpeckers drumming their bills, and the evergreen setting invites the many dresses of nature as she blows, howls, or quietly hums. Our senses, though, aren’t accustomed to this level of intricacy anymore. There are children or grandchildren to look after, a television steadily spewing information, and the constant fading in and out of nearby traffic despite our mountain town dwelling. The sweet sounds of nothing yet everything that surrounds us is lost. This adults-only luxury retreat, set on the southern edge of The Resort at Paws Up, is an ode to everything we yearn for but have merely forgotten.
The long drive to the gates of the green o is the perfect amount of decompression time to shed the weight of our responsibilities. In my case, it has been a toddler’s round-the-clock needs and desires for two years and counting. There are moments of calm that I relish: a scheduled massage, a soak in the hot tub, a hot cup of coffee on the mornings when I wake before my husband, but getting to spend each of those moments with him, but without the soft static of a baby monitor are far and few. And marriages, just like our mountain lifestyles, need to be realigned with the heart of purpose.
Unlike other resorts, the green o does something special that makes your eyes widen and your senses heighten, like a seamless magic trick performed by well-versed hands. Everything from the circular composition of the design-forward Haus accommodations to the multi-course tasting menu, right down to the delicate details that align with the refreshing twist on modern architecture, are all working behind the scenes to pull forth the grandiose feeling of nature and purity. The main event, and the real reason for booking, is the eight-act menu. Like each day in Montana, it is never the same.
The Social Haus resembles a lean-to where we can imagine small villages or families gathered from their nearby homes to share the warmth of each other’s company as well as carefully foraged but largely uncomplicated meals. With a backdrop of Ponderosa pines and far-off mountain silhouettes, you feel like you have actually arrived in this mirage of yesteryear. You have truly gotten away from it all by simply arriving. There is no shock and awe, no impressive blow that is characteristic of most luxurious dining experiences. And it’s planned this way, to bring the outside in, to keep the crisp serenity of the surrounding scene with you as you enter.
With rounded plush seating pointing you toward a mesmerizing flame, you can’t help but notice the faces of those who are fortunate enough to share this space. Behind a curved bar, chefs season meat and cook sauces, skillfully plating them in near synchronicity as guests watch from the barstools. Chef Brandon Cunningham packs a glittering resume lined with the names of acclaimed establishments but it is here, behind that bar, where his creativity and intuition are as expansive as our landscape. Food has no need for distortion and senseless mutation within his kitchen. The real delight and challenge come from honing the natural flavor of carefully selected ingredients and reimagining them in a way that brings their best qualities to a satisfying mouthful.
The menu consists of short phrases or two unlikely words paired together that pique curiosity: prawn & cucumber. Sturgeon & squash. Venison & xo. Receiving the menu is a conversation starter that gets the senses stirring. When the last detail is secured, the plate is then escorted right to your table by the chef who made it. As it is placed in front of you, a rich description of its process and execution is given in just enough detail that sets the stage for a divine culinary experience. This intimacy is inimitable. In a world where our out-to-eat dining experience separates the chef from the guest, the Social Haus bridges this lost treasure of personal connection. And before we know it, the plate is clean. And if no one is looking—maybe even better if they are—you lick any remains and patiently wait for the next plate to arrive.
Vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, and carnivores can rejoice over the limitless nature of this kitchen. After the final act, usually a sweet and balanced bite prepared or inspired by pastry chef Krystle Swenson, an unimposing lighted path will guide you uphill to, in my experience, a childhood-dream-becomes-adult-reality tree house. The Tree Haus is elevated 23 feet in the air and offers two stories of living space. As you ascend the spiral staircase to the master bedroom suite, the floor-to-ceiling windows allow an unbelievable vantage point for admiring the swaying forest. This elevation off the forest floor offers a fresh perspective, allowing us to feel reawakened to the beauty around us.
The other woodland hideaways tastefully embrace the picturesque hillside with clever design choices. Even appliances are inconspicuous so as to not disrupt the flow or feel of each space. In a place that seems to effortlessly meld the outdoors with interior, it’s no surprise that the green o is committed to sustainability and local supplies, despite worldly influence. Building sites were carefully chosen to wedge themselves among the trees, so much so that less than a dozen mature pines were lost in the two-year construction of the resort. A playful yet practical touch are the mountain bikes that are provided to each Haus for transportation, and more importantly, to stretch our stomachs for another chorus of meals throughout the stay.
If the culinary experience wasn’t enough—believe me, it is—there are adventure opportunities to let loose on some of the wildest terrain in the treasure state. Subject to change from season to season, the green o offers horseback riding, guided fly-fishing, shooting sports like archery, paintball, or clay target shooting, hot air balloon rides that allow vistas of the Swan Range, Garnet Mountains, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness, snowmobiling, ATV tours, and a skyline aerial adventure park, just to name a few. Newest to the list of hard-to-choose adventures is the one-of-a-kind experience to ride a MoonBike, which is only available as a winter activity. MoonBikes are the world’s first electric snow bike, which has zero emissions and allows guests an exciting new way to cherish the magical monochromatic season. The addition of this activity is another thoughtful way of offering more without creating a disturbance to the beauty and wildlife that occupies the 37,000-acre property. If you want to feel part of an exclusive club, a MoonBike date with your special someone on unspoiled land will grant you a memory of a lifetime as this dual resort property is the only space in North America to have these.
Whether it’s just a few nights or an entire week, the green o will leave you speechless, rested, and fed. The main pieces of the puzzles are there to pull you into the portrait of peacefulness itself, but it’s in the details where you’ll find yourself restored and rejuvenated. A favorite moment for me was waking up in the soft light and remembering there was a box of treats and hot beverages, specifically made to my preferences, waiting for my husband and I downstairs. Toss on a plush robe, slip on your cozy slides, and follow the spiral of the stairs down to your treasures. Any day that begins with the surprise of a delicate pastry followed by a smooth swig of coffee is sure to bring joy and indulgence. It's that feeling of being cared for, which is so easily forgotten in our adulthood without the remarkable reminder that the green o provides.
Treat yourself to an experience
For dinner reservations only, submit an inquiry through the homepage for the Social Haus. They are unable to host parties larger than four guests and they require at least 24 hours' notice prior to the requested date and time, no more than 30 days in advance. All guests must be 21 years or older.
"Unlike other resorts, the green o does something special that makes your eyes widen and your senses heighten, like a seamless magic trick performed by well-versed hands."