Yellowstone-induced wanderlust isn’t the only reason visitors have been drawn to the Green O, a 24-guest, adults-only retreat that’s hidden away in the densely timbered forest of central Montana.
Named after businessman Paul Greenough, who lived on the land in the early 20th century (and whose sheep were branded with green circular markings), the Green O is stashed among the 37,000 acres that belongs to Paws Up, its older, much larger sibling property. But whereas Paws Up caters to families and groups, the Green O offers something more ambitious, especially when it comes to service.
There are only 12 guesthouses scattered throughout the woods, and each is designed in an open, airy, modernist style that leans more Scandinavian than Western. The two-story “Tree Haus,” which is raised 23 feet in the air, provides the best views, but a sound night’s sleep is almost guaranteed to be found in any of them.
Green O staff members refer to themselves as “hosts.” The one who checks you in may be the same person who delivers a carafe of hot coffee at 7 a.m. or expertly mixes a pre-prandial cocktail. By the end of one’s stay, they all feel familial.
Idling away the day with a book is a perfectly idyllic way to pass the time, but each house also stocks all the accoutrements required for outdoor adventure: bike helmets, headlamps, umbrellas, hiking sticks, and bear spray. And in Montana there’s no shortage of that. A.T.V. rides, fly-fishing in the Blackfoot River, mountain biking, trail riding on horseback, and cattle steering are among the activities offered. (In fact, Green O guests have access to nearly everything in the Paws Up universe, including meals at all of its restaurants, accessed by foot or a chauffeured Lexus S.U.V.)
Whatever the level of exertion, each day should probably end with a restorative soak in the outdoor tub, another standard guest-room feature. And don’t miss the spa services, which are administered in a beautifully appointed canvas tent.
During dinnertime at the Social Haus restaurant, the Green O most unapologetically deviates from its rustic surroundings. The chef, Brandon Cunningham, worked at some of Portland’s most acclaimed restaurants, and his tasting menus consist of nine perfectly sized courses. Tiny globes of smoked kohlrabi and apple and a single pan-fried scallop swimming in a pool of caramelized jus were among the memorable dishes. Many guests return every night, but Cunningham reviews the guest list to ensure no one ever tastes the same dish twice.
Beautiful rooms and exquisite food are not rare, but the Green O’s remote, majestic setting is difficult to replicate. When confronted with this slice of big-sky country, where the stars are as bright as they get, real life begins to feel very distant. These days, that’s probably a good thing.
Laura Neilson is a New York–based writer and a regular contributor to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal