Big Sky Resort Unveils New Employee Housing Within Walking Distance of Slopes
BIG SKY, Mont. - Big Sky Resort in Montana has opened the first phase of new apartment-style employee housing that sits within walking distance of the mountain's slopes and facilities. The move aims to provide affordable and sustainable housing for the resort's seasonal workforce amidst a regional housing crunch.
The new housing complex, called Levinski Lodge, opened its first building (Levinski Lodge A) this March. Two additional buildings are slated to open for the 2023-2024 winter season. In total, the three Levinski Lodge buildings will provide housing for over 100 Big Sky employees.
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Apartment-Style Units Offer Modern Amenities
The Levinski Lodge units represent a major upgrade from traditional seasonal employee dorms. The apartments come fully furnished with modern amenities like full kitchens, common spaces, spacious bathrooms, on-site laundry facilities, and storage closets.
"Recognizing that we need more diverse and affordable housing options is crucial to address the housing shortage in the Big Sky community. Apartment-style units address a part of the population that has not quite fit in our other housing offerings."- Troy Nedved (General Manager at Big Sky Resort)
Some resort employees will live in the units with their families. The ability for staff to bring their families and enjoy a comfortable living situation aims to improve employee retention.
Walkable Location Improves Experience
The close proximity of Levinski Lodge to the ski slopes and other resort facilities provides a major perk for employees. They can walk to work instead of relying on crowded employee shuttle vans or vehicles.
"We want our team members to live right here in Big Sky. It enlivens the community, and it's better for the employee, atmosphere and climate,"- Troy Nedved (General Manager at Big Sky Resort)
The location also reduces traffic congestion since employees don't have to commute in each day. The local community has struggled with infrastructure constraints as visitation to Big Sky has boomed.
Big Sky Exceeds Industry Standards
With the Levinski Lodge units, Big Sky Resort now offers over 800 employee beds. That's more than seven times the industry average for a ski resort of its size.
But the resort doesn't plan to stop there. Management hopes to reach 1,000 employee beds by the 2023-2024 season. That would house approximately half of the resort's winter workforce.
"Ultimately, our goal is to reach 1,000 beds in Big Sky, which would house approximately half of our team in the winter season. We're on track to reach that goal by the winter 2023-2024 season,"- Troy Nedved (General Manager at Big Sky Resort)
Housing Shortage Impacts Staffing
The lack of affordable housing near ski resorts has severely impacted staffing and operations. With rising real estate values, seasonal employees struggle to find somewhere to live within commuting distance.
Many resorts have been forced to limit operating hours or close parts of the mountain because they simply don't have enough staff. Employees face grueling commutes of 30 minutes or more just to get to work, which leads to high turnover.
Big Sky's significant investment aims to address these challenges head-on. Competitive wages help attract employees, but affordable housing nearby makes the opportunity far more enticing.
In designing Levinski Lodge, Big Sky also emphasized sustainability initiatives. Energy-efficient HVAC systems, low-flow water fixtures, and rooftop solar panels all help reduce the building's environmental impact.
"Building sustainable housing is not just about location. We've included the best efficiency measures to further reduce our environmental impact."- Amy Fonte (Big Sky's Sustainability Specialist)
The solar array on Levinski Lodge A marks the resort's first installation of net-metered solar. This system feeds clean, renewable electricity directly into the local grid.
Regional Housing Crisis
The lack of affordable housing extends far beyond Big Sky Resort. Gallatin County, Montana and other communities near top ski resorts face a severe housing crunch.
Short-term vacation rentals have displaced long-term housing options for local residents and the workforce. Recent transplants moving in from out of state also drive up housing demand and cost. So solutions require coordination across sectors.
"It's going to take collaboration and partnerships within the entire community to develop more attainable housing solutions in Big Sky for both the seasonal and year-round populations,"- Nedved
In addition to the employee housing in Big Sky, the resort also offers beds and transportation options from Bozeman. This helps expand the potential workforce.
Industry May Follow Lead
Big Sky's large investment in modern, sustainable employee housing sets a new standard for the ski industry. Other leading resorts may be compelled to follow suit.
Vail Resorts, Alterra Mountain Company, and Aspen Skiing Company have the resources to make similar housing upgrades a priority at their premier properties.
Providing an outstanding employee experience improves retention, morale, and performance. It directly impacts the guest experience as well. Big Sky's example shows that affordable housing solutions are possible, even amidst intense demand.
Looking to the Future
With Levinski Lodge Phase 1 completed, Big Sky forges ahead with finishing the additional buildings over the next year. Meanwhile, employee recruitment is now underway for winter seasonal roles.
Prospective staff can get excited about not just working at a premier ski resort, but also living there. The new housing sets Big Sky apart from other destinations when attracting talent.
Big Sky hopes to build community and enhance sustainability through its long-term housing investments. While challenges remain, the resort is actively working to support its workforce and manage growth responsibly.
The housing shortage won't disappear overnight. But Big Sky's proactive approach models a template for ski industry leaders to follow. Employee housing needs to become an integral part of competing for talent in mountain destinations.
With stunning natural attributes and now improved accommodations, Big Sky aims to provide employees an incredible overall experience. That will translate directly to memorable vacations for guests hitting these famous slopes.
- Big Sky Resort opened Levinski Lodge, a new apartment-style employee housing within walking distance of the slopes.
- Units come fully furnished with full kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, and more - a major upgrade.
- Over 800 employee beds are now available, exceeding industry standards for a resort this size.
- The goal is 1,000 employee beds by 2023-2024 to house about half the winter workforce.
- Helps address staffing challenges driven by lack of nearby affordable housing.
- Sustainable design includes solar panels, energy efficiency, and low water use.