Getting connected at a technology center in the Huntley Lodge, set up for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
USUALLY WHEN I roll up to Big Sky in the morning I pass through a throng of skiers. Today, I passed through a security checkpoint.
I flashed my credentials and headed to the lobby, where the Resort is teched-out with computer stations and flat screens projecting world maps and meeting times. Where guests usually carry snowy skis, they now carry laptops. Where the Christmas tree stood last December, a credential and information booth now welcomes visitors. Snow suits have been replaced with business suits.
It’s all for APEC – the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation that is holding its Trade Ministerial here in Big Sky though May 21st.
It’s amazing to see the Resort’s transformation from ski vacation destination to high-profile government meeting location. Big Sky hosts meetings and conventions all year long at the Yellowstone Conference Center, but APEC is a different ballgame. Closed to the public, the Resort is open only to conference members and press, and Big Sky went all out to accommodate the high-profile meetings which will draw foreign dignitaries and US Senators and Congressmen. There’s a new high-speed, ultra-secure internet system in place. The cozy sunken lobby in the Huntley is now a slick IT center. The Mammoth Room, reserved for lunching skiers in the winter, is set up with plasma screens and a giant conference table, each seat with a placard labeling representatives from different economies. It’s polished, dazling, even mezmorizing, and you can sense the excitement, a buzz in the air- like walking into a shiny Apple store, poised to buy your first iPad.
But at lunch I sat down to a familiar bison burger, glad to see a Montana classic amidst the high-tech international crowd. Big Sky is no stranger to accommodating high-end guests (Obama and Biden most recently), but it never compromises on personality: Big Sky remains a world class resort with unpretentious Montana hospitality and a focus on local and natural surroundings. Always amidst the plasma screens and elk tenderloin, a cozy fire and a simple burger. And next to the high-tech conference room? A rugged 11,166-foot Lone Peak.