I Vacationed Like Gwyneth Paltrow—And It's Not What I Expected *At All*

There was a lot of bugs and dirt and horse poo. And I couldn't have been happier.

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When one thinks of celebrity vacations, certain destinations come to mind. Beach somewhere off the coast of Italy or France. Remote island in the Caribbean. Ski getaway in the Swiss Alps. Tent in Montana...wait, no. But it's true: Everyone from Leonardo DiCaprio to the Rolling Stones to Gwyneth Paltrow have traveled west (or east, I guess) to stay at The Resort at Paws Up, a "glamping" retreat that somehow fuses true Montana grit with the lavishness of a 5-star hotel. 

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Yippie Ki-Yay motherf*&$rs, the Big Sky country today on @goop

A photo posted by Gwyneth Paltrow (@gwynethpaltrow) on

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I'm from Indiana—and have a lot of family in Texas—so big, open spaces with lots of cattle and horses aren't *particularly* new to me. But man, when I got out to the resort, I'll be damned if I wasn't taken aback. Every inch of the property looked like a postcard. No Instagram or iPhone photo could do it justice. But I still tried:

Home for the next couple of days. 🌲🌲🌲 #Montana #resortatpawsup #sightseewithsam

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

The first resort to ever use the word "glamping," Paws Up is like a little utopia spanning 37,000 acres. There "luxury homes," which feature multiple bedrooms, a jacuzzi, and your very own Kia to drive around the resort, should you wish—you can also call/use an app to have a driver pick you up—are aptly named. Some feature tents in the backyard that have full electricity and beds—perfect for little ones and big ones alike. But the real scene-stealers are the luxury camps. 

I miss you already. #Montana #glamping #resortatpawsup #bigsky

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

The camps span different areas of the resort. There's Creekside Camp, which (you guessed it) is positioned by a creek; Moonlight Camp, which is at the foot of Lewis and Clark's famous lookout rock; River Camp, on the banks of the Blackfoot River; Cliffside Camp, which is atop a cliff that overlooks the Blackfoot River and Elk Creek; and finally, Pinnacle Camp, which is situated on a bluff overlooking the river and creek. Pinnacle Camp and Cliffside Camp both feature the coveted "Honeymoon Tent," a secluded tent with a copper clawfoot tub for two. 

Each camp features a "dining pavilion," which becomes your living/dining area of sorts—it's the only place in the camps that feature wifi, as well. A cook is there during breakfast and dinner hours, and a butler is on-hand at all times to bring you, well, pretty much anything your heart desires. (Glass of wine, s'mores stuff, setting a fire, etc.) It's like camping—but, you know, without the roughin' it part.

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#OOO. #montana #resortatpawsup #sightseewithsam

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

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I stayed at Creekside Camp, where a hammock and a glass of wine was calling my name. Each tent features a porch, bedroom with adjustable heated mattress (!!!), a second bedroom in certain tents (with two twin beds), and a bathroom that would put any hotel to shame. (There are heated floors, a shower, double vanity...you get the gist.) I could hear the rush of the creek outside my tent and I immediately get used to being back near greenery (#NYCResident) by pretending I was 12-years-old (not hard)—I followed trails, skipped rocks, and listened to birds chirping as I laid in the sun. It was magical. 

"Each tent features a porch, bedroom with adjustable heated mattress, a second bedroom in certain tents (with two twin beds), and a bathroom that would put any hotel to shame."

But while the tents were glamorous, you're still outdoors, on a ranch, in Montana. Translation? Dirt. Bugs. Mosquitos. Rodents. But, if you're anything like me, you'll get acclimated quickly. Especially when everything is just a call away. Did I mention there's a spa called Spa Town which features tented treatment areas? Yeah, you're not ever really far from the ultimate in amenities. And as for true, Montana experiences, there are plenty of those. Not having ridden a horse since I was 10 (I am a disgrace to my family), I was nervous to climb back on–but the staff made it clear: the cattle drive was a must. You go in a group and, uh, wrangle cattle. It's amazing. They gave me a horse that knew what was up/was chill (his name was Rowdy, go figure), so it was easy to just enjoy everything. The only problem was he was a little slow and wanted to eat snacks AKA grass all the time. But honestly, if I had a field of snacks in front of me, I'd try and eat all of it, too. 

Herding cattle, as one does in Montana. 🐮 #resortatpawsup #montana #sightseewithsam

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

We also rode ATVs up to Lookout Rock, the famed Lewis and Clark vantage point where they laid out their route. You can also raft, canoe, go fly-fishing, hike, and more. There's even a ropes course. You can join a chuckwagon dinner, complete with cowboy poet and banjo player. We also got a glimpse of *special* occasion event planning for the resort in the form of a scenic lunch:

Lunch is served. 🍴 #Montana #resortatpawsup #sightseewithsam

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

FWIW, the resort does a ton of weddings and special events on the property—and honestly, it makes sense. From amazing woodland settings to barn-inspired weddings, the team can make any kind of rustic fairytale come to life. There's also a ton of kid-friendly activities, as validated by Gwyneth's post.

All in all, I won't lie: Montana was never on my travel wish list, but now I can't wait to go back. 

Take me back to #Montana. @theresortatpawsup #glamping #latergram #hammocklife

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

Tips and Tricks:

1. Pack boots. Doesn't matter if it's mid-summer—all the dirt, dust, and cowboy-wannabe-ing takes a toll on your favorite kicks. Grab some booties with a small heel or go full-on cowgirl with some cowboy boots. Either way, just pack 'em. 

2. Into horses? Take a gander at the Equestrian Center. The Saddle Club is the largest private equestrian center in Montana featuring a 23,000-square-foot riding arena, seating for 150 spectators, a VIP skybox suite with full bar, 52 stalls, and more than 100 miles of glorious riding trails.

3. Order a Huckleberry Hound and/or a Huckleberry Moscow Mule. Huckleberries are apparently very plentiful in Montana, and are used in many things—including cocktails. 

4. Head to Lookout Rock. It's one of the most noted vantage points from Lewis and Clark's expeditions—and the view is worth it. 

Yes, this is real. #Montana #lookoutrock #resortatpawsup #sightseewithsam

A photo posted by Samantha Leal (@samanthajoleal) on

5. Don't forget your swimsuit—even in winter. Did we mention jacuzzis? (In the homes, that is. If in the tents—bring your fleece!).

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