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After years of traveling, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really care for the bed and breakfast stay. I always feel a bit confined, as though I must tiptoe around another person’s space. The exception, without a doubt, is the Hidden Moose Lodge, tucked into the forested hillside just at the outskirts of Whitefish. The lodge is so inviting and popular that USA Today has named it "The Best Ski Hotel in North America" for the past two years.

It’s easy to see that owner Kent Taylor and his wife Kim have found their niche— it suits them well.

After meeting in college in Colorado, a ski trip — Kim was a ski racer — to Whitefish would set the course for their eventual decision to move to Montana. After college, Kent wound up working at Westin Hotels in Seattle on the management side of the operations, but missed interacting with guests. The couple decided to move to Whitefish and build a lodge.

It’s in Whitefish where they raised their two kids, Klaire (who recently graduated from the University of Montana and is interning at Disneyland) and Kyle (a professional extreme skier who in the summer takes guests out on his pontoon boat on Whitefish Lake for evening cruises).

Kent said, in an easygoing manner, that he and Kim argued for a year about what to name the log lodge. His choice was Barking Rock Lodge, but Kim won with her choice of Hidden Moose.

Moose decor runs strong throughout the property, now in its 21st year. The lodge has 15 guest rooms, with plans to break ground on additional guest cabins this spring. Each guest room, uniquely furnished in sort of a woodsy-western style, has its own bathroom and an outside entrance from a deck. The Taylors showcase Montana artwork and books throughout the lodge. An outdoor hot tub is tucked into a private alcove. 

The centerpiece to Hidden Moose is its great room with a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, flanked on either side by large windows that look out onto a waterfall. The great room merges with a cozy dining nook and an open kitchen. There is no doubt you will find your way here for a cup of coffee and homemade cookies, or just to sit and read — and feel perfectly at home in your jammies. Free wi-fi and a video library for guests are those extra touches that sweeten the stay at Hidden Moose.

It’s not possible to leave the breakfast table hungry. Between the fresh fruit, omelets, huckleberry pancakes (always a favorite), bacon or ham — it’s a Montana-style feed. Two complimentary evening beverages — either alcoholic or non — also are available to guests. 

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Kent said 45 percent of their guests are repeat customers. Bruce and Janet McDonald from Lethbridge have been coming for 20 years and will be visiting again in March 2018. Janet said, “if we can’t stay at Hidden Moose, we just don’t come to Whitefish. It’s our home away from home.”

What is distinctive about Hidden Moose is how well-suited it is for a group to take over the entire lodge — whether it be a family reunion, corporate retreat, wedding party or something else. The Taylors' ability to adapt to any groups’ needs, be it catering, transportation or being totally hands off, speaks to how well the Taylors have nailed down Montana hospitality.

Kim works out of the lodge as a financial planner. When Kent is not taking advantage of a 10-minute drive to hit the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort, he generally can be found on site. He’ll be the first to say that he loves chatting with guests about their options of what to see and do in the area, including sage advice on skiing, fishing, hiking and rafting.

While a moose-themed mug, or hat is a nice memento to part with, you’re going to take home a new friendship with Kim and Kent. The Taylors can’t imagine doing anything differently with their lives and have said, without a moment’s hesitation, it’s the people who come through their doors that brings joy to their lives.

Donnie Sexton, who retired in 2016 from a long career with the Montana Office of Tourism, currently freelances as a travel writer and photographer, covering destinations around the world.

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