The Yellowstone Club is a members-only oasis occupying its own mountain in Montana. It is the playground of the rich and famous. The club occupies 15,200 acres. Its famous members include Bill and Melinda Gates, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Google founder Eric Schmidt own a unit in the development – Erin Andrews got married here. Dan Quayle, former Vice President of the U.S., is rumored to own a home within the Yellowstone Club.
Joining – or just visiting – the club isn't easy. Only members and their guests are allowed to enter. The fee to join the club is steep – you must own property at the resort to be a member. Condos start at around $5 million. Enormous six bedroom, nine bathroom custom-built mansions can set you back $16 million. Ranches ranging from 160 to 360 acres carry price tags of up to $25 million.
Once you've bought property at the development, it will cost you $400,000 to become a Yellowstone Club member. Annual dues will cost you an additional $41,500. The Yellowstone Club has a limit of 864 members.
Once members and their guests have arrived, there is tons for them to do. The club members spend an average of 60 days at Yellowstone Club per year. With those $41,500 annual dues, that's just under $700 per day. The resort has 2,700 acres of private skiing, 18 ski lifts, more than 100 trails with varying degrees of difficulty, and a terrain park for snowboarders. The club also features an 18-hole golf course.
Despite the cost and amenities, the vibe of the Yellowstone Club is designed to be relaxed and happy. Basically, you can play golf in your jeans.
The casual vibe also applies to the club's dining options. From gourmet to "Montana casual," there are a range of options. However, the membership fees do not cover most food and beverage services. The candy shacks dotted around the mountain are included with your membership fee.
The main lodge is the epicenter of the Club. The space has shopping, dining, lounge areas, spa, fitness center, business center, and concierge services.
One of the major perks for members is the activities for kids. There is a movie theatre, rock climbing wall, basketball court, arts, and crafts, and an arcade all located within the youth center. Staff will also provide supervised activities and day care.
The most attractive quality of the Club for members it the privacy and security. A former member of the Secret Service allegedly runs the resort's security staff. The Yellowstone Club has its own emergency medical services and fire department. There is almost no threat of being hounded by fans or paparazzi while at the Club.
The Yellowstone Club isn't terribly popular with locals for environmental reasons. The resort paid more than $90,000 in penalties to the state of Montana last year in relation to a spill of 30 million gallons of wastewater into the Gallatin River.
The Yellowstone Club was founded in the late 1990s by timber mogul Tim Blixseth and his then wife Edra. After the couple divorced, the club went into bankruptcy. Blixseth fought the club's creditors, Montana tax authorities, the federal justice system, and Credit Suisse for a decade. Credit Suisse had loaned the club $375 million. It turns out Blixseth used much of that money to fund his jet-set lifestyle. The whole saga sent Blixseth to jail in 2014. He served 14 months of hard time for a civil contempt charge for failing to account for the money from the sale of a Mexican resort.
Despite the mess with Blixseth, Club members and creditors refused to let the Club fail. It was purchased in 2009 by CrossHarbor Capital Partners of Boston. The managing partner of the firm, Sam Byrne, is a member of Yellowstone. The firm bought the resort for $115 million.
Since then, the resort has grown in size of membership and grounds. The rich and famous flock there for its exclusivity and privacy and its focus on family. The Yellowstone Club isn't Vail or Aspen. It is serious skiing, a Wild West Montanan vibe, and someplace members can relax and not worry about being watched, followed, or hounded. For the rich and famous, that is worth the price of admission.