Rustic Romance: A snowy honeymoon for a winter wedding
A snowy honeymoon for a winter wedding
What’s the perfect accompaniment to a winter wedding? A snowy honeymoon filled with cozy romance, roaring fires, a timber-built retreat in the middle of the woods, outdoor adventures, being one with nature and gourmet dining at its finest.
The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Mont., resplendent with the openness of the 37,000 acres decorated by Mother Nature with thin trees, elk, blue skies and a long, winding river. This stretch of untamed Montana wilderness is steeped in Lewis and Clark history, as well as a tad famous from “A River Runs Through It.” Situated along the winding Blackfoot River, The Resort at Paws Up offers a spiritual awakening through nature, a gay-friendly setting for wild, unforgettable adventures, and luxury camping known as “glamping.”
Open October through February and then again in April through September, Paws Up is no ordinary wilderness outpost. The difference begins in the accommodations: luxurious to the hilt. Guests can choose from three levels of cabins, from basic and charming to full-out wow, with multiple bedrooms, through-the-roof-thread count sheets on heavenly soft mattresses, stainless steel appliances, full kitchens, copper sinks, wooden and stone countertops, heated stone tile floors in the bathroom, flat-screen TVs, roaring fireplaces, hot tubs, hand-etched windows by a local artisan, authentic Northwestern art throughout, and tons of privacy (all of the cabins are graciously far apart from one another). There also are two homes for rent: the Morris House, a 1908 farmhouse on Elk Creek, with a haunted tale and a favorite among celebs such as Mick Jagger, who are looking for the ultimate in privacy; and the Blackfoot River Lodge, a spacious four-bedroom wooded home set over the water.
PITCH A TENT
For the more adventurous set, Paws Up offers two outdoor communities to stay in: Tent City and River Camp. Both camps offer luxury tents—some suited for couples, and others large enough for the entire family, with separate kids’ quarters. The safari-style canvas accommodations are outfitted with fine art, electricity, feather beds, Western chic furniture and private decks. Every tent is assigned a private master bathroom (think heated stone tile floors, high-end shower heads and a hefty helping of good-smelling toiletries). Each camp has its own camping butler to ensure every need is met 24 hours a day, as well as a dining pavilion, where the guests eat all their gourmet meals (included in the accommodations price). At River Camp (which is about a mile away from the main house on the property), guests frequently spot bald eagles, as several have built their nests there. It’s not uncommon to see whitetail deer throughout the forest, too.
Cabin guests dine at Pomp, the resort’s fine-dining restaurant, which offers extremely continental cuisine with a Western flare. Chef Wes Coffel, a loyal follower of the farm-to-table culinary movement, constructed his eclectic Western menu with a focus on locally raised organic produce and Montana-raised meats like pheasant, quail, elk, buffalo, trout and rattlesnake. The Tank & Trough Bistro offers a more casual menu and atmosphere for breakfast and lunch. The food at Paws Up isn’t like other meals-included resorts; it’s well executed by trained chefs who push themselves to epicurean excellence. Bonus? No matter how fancy the restaurants are, the dress code is Western casual, so break out your favorite denim and plaid. Or have the chef cook a unique six-course tasting menu for you and your new spouse in your cabin. There’s nothing like a bison steak paired with a bold cab in the privacy and comfort of your own honeymoon pad.
TAKE A HIKE
Whatever the season when you visit Paws Up, rest assured there’s plenty to do. This time of year, the thick snow on the ground is perfect for snowmobiling across several mountain ranges up to the ghostly old mining town of Garnet. Or take a dog sledding excursion. Cuddle under blankets in one cozy sled, while a musher (the leader of the pack) stands behind you and directs the dogs. Your hard-working carriers will be 10 eager-to-please strong dogs that also run in the Iditarod, a 12-day dog-sledding race held annually in Alaska. Other winter-only activities offered include cross-country skiing (all equipment is available on the property, so you don’t have to bring anything). Anything else your heart desires can be arranged with the staff, from ice fishing to hitting the slopes.
During the spring and summer months, guests relish the easygoing temperatures by fly-fishing either on property (on the river where “A River Runs Through It” was filmed) or going out on an overnight expedition with guides, canoeing and kayaking, swimming, hay rides, mountain biking, ATVs and rappelling.
Some activities are available during all seasons, such as shooting on a 13-station sporting clay course designed to mimic the flight patterns of ducks, pheasants and other game birds, as well as rabbits in their natural habitats; wildlife watching (golden eagles, bald eagles, elk, deer, bears, mountain goats and moose, oh my); horseback riding and a trip to Spa City, which is a bit like Tent City in that it’s a community of tents set on a meadow, but inside the canvas enclosures are treatment rooms for a variety of massages. When it’s cold outside, though, the spa moves to one of the cabins on the property. Indulge in a couples’ massage for ultimate relaxation with expansive windows looking out on sun-drenched snow.
Of course, some of the best activities may take place in your own cabin or tent, celebrating your nuptials by curling up to each other by the fire sipping hand-delivered hot chocolates from the friendly kitchen staff, canoodling in the hot tub on an icy night or having a private dinner with your sweetheart in your handsomely appointed dining room.
The Resort at Paws up is about a 35-minute drive from the airport, and complimentary transportation is provided both ways.
Depending on where you stay and when you visit, accommodations range from $565 a night to $2,935. Nightly rates include meals, lodging services and activity gratuity.
Photos / Kirsten and Maria Palladino
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