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Grouse Mountain Lodge: A migratory pattern

 Courtesy Grouse Mountain Lodge


Like migratory birds, meetings seem to put Grouse Mountain Lodge on their flight path. For example, the Montana Broadcasters Association’s (MBA’s) annual convention has been coming to the lodge, located in Montana’s northwest corner, every other year for more than a decade. In alternate years, the convention moves to the state’s eastern half, a shift designed for parity in a state where east-west borders are some 600 miles apart.


If MBA members were given a vote, president and CEO Greg MacDonald bets most would choose Grouse Mountain as the convention site every year, despite the long trip that would result for some.“I would tell you that many, many of my members would say, ‘Let’s just go there every year,’” MacDonald said.

MBA members like the lodge for a number of reasons. First, it satisfies two critical requirements: a resort setting and access to good golf.

A city park and a 36-hole, city-owned golf course, one of nine courses in the area, border the lodge. Five minutes away by car or hotel shuttle is Whitefish, a resort town that manages to be Western without being cliche.

Second, the lodge accommodates the broadcasters’ technological requirements. “We aren’t the easiest guys in the world to work with — we haul in a lot of equipment,” said MacDonald.

Whether the hotel staff is dealing with satellites and staging, or flipping a ballroom after a Saturday-night banquet to accommodate an annual televised political debate sponsored by MBA, “it is the people at Grouse Mountain Lodge who make my life easier,” said MacDonald.
Fingers crossed, MacDonald hopes that will continue as he prepares for this summer’s meeting, his first under the lodge’s new owners, Glacier Park Inc. (GPI). So far, his experience has been good, and the new owners have been as accommodating as the old.

In the year since GPI bought Grouse Mountain, some staff changes have been made, and a comprehensive makeover of the nearly 30-year-old property has begun.

Indoors, returning guests will find a lobby that has been enhanced but has also held on to the expected Western touches, like a bear rug above a stone fireplace and chandeliers fashioned from antlers.

More local products such as elk and buffalo are on the menu in the dining room; more Montana microbrews are poured in the bar. The lodge has also become more involved in the community by joining the local convention bureau.

Lynn Erickson, who has held an educational training session at the lodge for the past three years, has had consistently good experiences at Grouse Mountain yet does look forward to the upgrades, many of which will be in place when her group arrives this summer.