Resort at Paws Up Laying Off 70 Employees

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Officials with the swanky Resort at Paws Up said the economic downturn is hurting the luxury leisure travel market and the resort will be closed for several months over the winter.

Managing director Terre Short said 70 employees will lose their jobs around Nov. 1.

Paws Up will open for the Christmas and New Year holiday period, then close again until mid-April. A five-night Christmas vacation package for a family of four starts at $6,241, according to the resort’s Web site.

Short said she started talking in staff meetings about two weeks ago about the likelihood of an extended closure.

“At the time we were trying to figure out how we could get by with maybe eight or nine weeks,” she said. “But we just had to keep processing the numbers of reservations that aren’t there and eventually make some very difficult decisions.”

She said her staff has researched some places that might have winter employment for those being laid off.

“We’re doing our best to get jobs for everyone and hoping that everybody returns to us in the spring,” Short said. “We’re going to call them in mid-February to see if they’re interested in being with us.”

Short said the resort in the Blackfoot Valley had a record summer in 2008 and bookings for next summer are running ahead of last year’s pace.

Paws Up, a 37,000-acre getaway 30 miles northeast of Missoula, is known for its “glamping” or glamorous camping. People can take weekend or weeklong vacations with families or as couples. There are also packages for hunting or corporate retreats.