Last week I had the chance to sit down with Big Sky Resort's Sarah Blechta, Condominium Manager, and Laura Gregory, Assistant Condominium Manager, and chat about lodging, renting, and a little bit of everything vacation related. With more than 700 room options at the resort it takes a certain set of various skills and love for spontaneity to take on the condo management role. Here's what Sarah and Laura had to say:
Tell me a bit about what it takes to be a Condominium Manager at Big Sky Resort.
Laura Gregory: Where to begin? I think to be successful in this role you have to wear many hats at any given time. Every day there's a new challenge or something new to learn. During a normal work week, I am a satellite repair woman, internet specialist, accountant, housekeeper, photographer, PR spokeswoman, sales agent, maintenance advisor, and that's just to name a few.
Sarah Blechta: To be the Condominium Manager it takes attention to detail and a passion for helping people. We help owners, their friends and family, as well as their guests so we have to communicate well and know the owners and their properties.
What about Owner Appreciation Weekend should non-owners know about?
LG: Great question. Guests may not know, but we have a team of licensed property managers with more than 40 years of combined experience here at the resort. We offer a range of just under 500 different properties/ units that are available for rental and under our care. If they are interested in purchasing a second home and are looking for a way to subsidize the cost, joining our rental program is a great option.
Owner Appreciation Weekend is about creating awareness for the variety of services we offer here for guests and owners alike so we denote Labor Day weekend to show our appreciation for our partners. We wouldn't be able to offer the collection of lodging options to our guests without them. Our relationship with them as our business allies is essential to our success as a company, resort, and town.
SB: Our owners should care about this weekend because we want them to know how much we appreciate them and are grateful for the trust they put in us. It has been a hit year after year and gives our owners a chance to see us face-to-face in a fun environment.
What is the highlight of your day?
LG: Aside from getting my email inbox under 100? Laughs I would have to say, it's when I have the opportunity to make an impact on a guest's stay. You can't always control the things that happen to our guests. They may have had a bad flight, gotten lost on the way here, etc. but what you can do, is govern how you work with them afterwards, which hopefully turns their stay around. Sometimes the way you handle an issue makes more of an impact than the source of their discontent originally did.
SB: The highlight of my day and job is making a difference for an owner or a guest. Having the opportunity to create a memorable moment for them is what makes this job so great.
Highlight of your job?
LG: The thing I love most about my job is all of the special relationships I have worked to develop with our owners. There's nothing like calling up an owner to give an update on a project in their home and then you end up spending 30 minutes with them catching up on life. Or maybe you are lucky enough to catch them in the lobby at check in and they great you with arms wide open. Nothing is more valuable to me, than that kind of feedback.
Tell me about a time when you had a "this right here is why I do this job" moment.
LG: I think my first "ah- ha!" moment was when Sarah went on maternity leave my first winter (2011/ 2012) on the job. I was currently the Administrative Assistant and was thrown into the fire in the middle of February. There's nothing like learning on the job. Not only was my experience invaluable to my career here at the resort, but it was a great opportunity to show owners what I was capable of.
Understandably so, there were some owners that preferred to only speak with Sarah on matters of business as I was just the spreadsheet and filing gal. So when they had no choice but to speak with me, I worked my darndest to show them they could trust me to help. It was one of the greatest highlights of the whole experience that I was able to walk away with and was the most valuable feedback I could have asked for.
Any last thoughts?
LG: Just that I truly hope our owners know how much we sincerely love what we do and we are here for them when they need us. It really has been a pleasure getting to know them over the past 3 years as well as meeting all of the new Moonlight owners from the integration of two great resorts. I can only look forward to what is to come.
Owner's Appreciation Weekend is going on right now, August 28-31.
One of the new properities with the Moonlight integration, Moonlight Mountain Home.
The Family Stone began touring a few years ago as quasi-tribute band quasi-Sly and the Family Stone reunion band. The Family Stone boasts three original members from Sly and the Family Stone including saxophonist Jerry Martini, aka Papa J, drummer Greg Errico, and trumpeter Cynthia Robinson. Needless to say this is more than your average funk band this is rock greatness coming to Big Sky Resort.
In 1969, Sly and the Family Stone played perhaps their most memorable show at Woodstock in Bethel, New York. A band as vital to rock history as The Family Stone deserves more than just a little praise as they promise to bring the funk and fun this weekend and preserve that memorable psychedelic funk sound. And that's just Saturday night at Big Sky Resort's inaugural Big Moon Rising Music Festival August 29-30.
Friday night promises just as much funk and improve as Saturday with New Orleans' best funk band Dumpstaphunk.
"Dumpstaphunk has grown from a small side project into one of New Orleans' most prestigious modern funk ensembles," said Benjy Eisen of Rolling Stone in the late-May 2013 issue. This is no ordinary funk band, but a 5-piece blues, soul, and rock ensemble that attacks and entertains. If Rolling Stone's street cred isn't enough, The New York Times called Dumpstaphunk the best funk band from New Orleans. Enough said.
Following the main acts at Big Moon Rising will be after parties at Whiskey Jack's featuring Cure for the Common on Friday night and Andrew Gromiller and the Organically Grown on Saturday.
Opening acts include more jazz and funk with multi-instrumentalist Keller Williams and Bozeman's own Andrew Gromiller. It's a weekend not to be missed.
Purchase single day and weekend tickets for Big Moon Rising Music Festival here.
Big Moon Rising Music Festival features:
The Family Stone
Keller Williams (with More Than A Little)
Andrew Gromiller and the Organically Grown
Cure for the Common
Forrest and Friends
Keller Williams with More Than A Little
Vine & Dine 2014 at Big Sky Resort featured more than 30 wineries, delicious food from a dozen amazing chefs, including Google's Global Program chef Scott Giambastiani, and music from jazz extraordinaire's Anna Wilson with Jazz Your Azz Band and McTuff. The weekend was also full of amazing wine education from sommeliers Fred Dame and Jay Fletcher. Take a look at the photo highlights from luncheons, tastings, and The Wine Stroll. Join us next year for Vine & Dine on August 13-16, 2015.
Photo: Michael Jezak
Kent Torrey (left) and Scott Giambastiani (right) Photo: Jezak
Plate of Asado BBQ. Photo: Anna Husted
Beef, Lamb and Pork sliders as the final course in Scott Giambastiani's Food Revolution Luncheon. Photo: Husted
Lotus Pad's Buddha Bundle at the Brooks Winery Vintner Dinner on Friday, August 15. Photo: Husted
Bunchgrass Winery at The Wine Stroll on Saturday, August 16. Photo: Jezak
Anna Wilson and Jazz Your Azz Band at Whiskey Jack's After Party. Photo: Jezak
The Wine Stroll comes to an end. Join us next year on August 13-16, 2015. Photo: Jezak.
Walking into the Jack Creek Grille at Big Sky Resort, the first thing you'll probably notice is the amazing views. Like dining in the company of Lone Peak, the towering north side of Big Sky's signature mountain lays before you almost within reach. And if you're lucky enough to be there around the sunset hour, the alpenglow will most likely be as entertaining as the friends or family that you're dining with.
But views aside, dining is really why you're there, right? Located in the Moonlight Lodge, Jack Creek Grille has a comfortable lodgey atmosphere with a touch of elegance thrown into the mix, and the cuisine follows suit. The well-thought out menu features classic go-to items-burgers, steaks, chicken and fish-with Montana flair.
"We aim for farm to table type fare," says Executive Chef Bryan Devlin. "We use heirloom grains like hominy and faro, local cheeses and meats, even trout from the nearby Paradise Valley."
For lunch you'll find a bison or Wagyu beef burger made with Montana-raised meats, salads using as much local produce as possible, and fish tacos for a blend of healthy spice. For dinner there's a dryaged bison bone-in ribeye (that tends to fly off the shelves), local trout served with kale, elk served with hearty grits, and duck with caramelized beets, just to name a few. * And the wine list to accompany the meal is equally as intriguing.
The Jack Creek Grille, views and all, are the complete Montana package.
*The menus change with the seasons and available produce.
Quail at Jack Creek Grille.
Jack Creek Bar & Grille
I've been working on Vine & Dine Festival at Big Sky Resort alongside Steve Merlino, event foodie extraordinaire. The event takes place August 14-17, and it's a smorgasbord of world-renowned chefs, sommeliers, and vineyards. Here are the highlights from one of the organizers, and it's not too late to grab tickets at the door for any of these:
Asado is a traditional Argentinian beef dish cooked on a "parrilla," or campfire grill for us Montanans, and the Thursday night feature event for the inaugural Vine & Dine. Not only is Asado a unique Barbeque experience, but it's close to sold out so stop reading this and get a ticket now. (I'll take this out if I can't post this afternoon, I think Asado is still interesting even though it's sold out).
After Thursday the heat gets hot at Vine & Dine with food from Google's Global Program Chef Scott Giambastiani who will be serving lunch and sharing a little bit about what he calls the "food revolution." As Google may one day take over our entire society (and the world), I suggest this lunch for THE lunch to attend on Friday (ok it's also the ONLY lunch on Friday). Needless to say it's going to be delicious, informative, and I may just ask Giambastiani to autograph my napkin.
Friday also consists of two seminars (remember, this isn't the average sit-in-an-auditorium-and-fall-asleep seminar, but a drink-wine-and-enjoy-life seminar): Tasting the Master's Way and Touring the Italian Countryside. Tasting the Master's Way features World-renowned sommeliers Fred Dame and Jay Fletcher (both featured in Jason Wise's "Somm" documentary which won Best Documentary at San Luis Obispo International Film Festival). Dame and Fletcher will take us on an "entertaining tasting of carefully chosen wines." One seminar with these two and I'm hoping to be able to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier Exam. Kidding! That exam has one of the lowest pass rates of any exam in the world, which means who better to learn wine from than two of the top ranking somms?
A few more things must be mentioned. Friday night featured Vintner dinners all around Big Sky including Lotus Pad, Olive B's, Buck's T-4, and Saturday night features the headline event: The Wine Stroll. The Wine Stroll takes tasters through the Mountain Village at Big Sky Resort and through the vines of Oregon, South America, Washington, and countless other places. If there's only one event to go to, it's The Wine Stroll.
Before The Wine Stroll tasters can take to Lone Mountain and explore the pinots from 11,166 feet or while ziplining through the forest. Then enjoy any number of seminars and lunches such as Cheese & Wine: One Stinky Good Time or Jay Fletcher's Old Vines of Northern Spain. Essentially we've made it so no taster can go wrong at any of these events.
Last, and certainly the least amount of wine, is Sunday's "Where's the Wine" Brunch, featuring bellinis, mimosas, and Bloody Marys, and, ok, wine.
I'll be enjoying Vine & Dine all weekend, join me for wine and food from around the world.
A traditional Argentinian-style Asado.
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