The most rested president in American history headed West yesterday to get away from his Western getaway -- and the mushrooming Crawford Woodstock -- and spend a couple of days at the Tamarack Resort in the rural Idaho mountains.
"I'm kind of hangin' loose, as they say," he told reporters.
Just a year ago, there was no stopping Tamarack. For three years, every real estate offering sold out. Everyone from the governor down raved about the resort. President Bush visited in 2005. In the last several years, a parade of journalists from The New York Times, USA Today and other publications visited and for the most part wrote glowing reviews.
"Tamarack developers face uphill battle to keep control of resort," Idaho Statesman, 3/14/08
then came more recent "then"s:
February 15, 2008 saw the chapter 11 filing of the owners of Tamarack Resort.
"Tamarack: Not Our Fault," 2/21/08, BoiseGuardian.com
Other corners of the resort-economy West are taking punches. The Tamarack Resort in Idaho, which opened in 2004 north of Boise, is operating in receivership after the owners defaulted on a $250 million loan.
The global financial crises have stormed even these gilded confines: This month, the Yellowstone Club filed for bankruptcy protection.
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Some of the Yellowstone Club's members, who paid $18,000 in annual dues for years, on top of their $250,000 deposit to join, are not quite so understanding. About 120 of them filed a brief in bankruptcy court asking what became of all the fat checks.
"That money seems to be gone," the brief states, "and members want to know why."
Big Sky Weekly.com, "Details on the Yellowstone Club bankruptcy filing":
The creditors list filed with the bankruptcy paperwork reads like a whose who of Gallatin County and includes some of the most prominent business in the area.
Yellowstone Club members revolt over bankruptcy; debts now estimated at $399 million
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Alter's clients claim the $250,000 deposit required of club members and their $18,000 in annual dues contributed approximately $88 million since the club was founded. That's on top of a $375 million loan taken out by Blixseth's former husband, Tim Blixseth, in 2005.
The bulk of the club's current debt stems from that loan.
Tim Blixseth has since ceded control of the club to his ex-wife as part of their divorce settlement.
"Today, that money seems to be gone and the members want to know why," attorneys for the Ad Hoc Committee members wrote in court filings.
They added that it "appears that a large portion of the $375 million loan ... was diverted for non-Yellowstone Club purposes.
"Montana's Members Only Mountain," The Oregonian, 1/18/08:
Blixseth has nourished alliances in powerful arenas. He is generous contributor to Republican political campaigns. . . .
So Blixseth was not shy on influence when the Congress-approved property swaps known as the Gallatin Land Exchanges took place in 1993 and 1998.
In the trades, Blixseth and Big Sky Lumber gave the government nearly 92,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land near Yellowstone National Park. Big Sky Lumber got more than 45,000 acres in return. About 6,000 of those acres allowed Blixseth to consolidate private and publicly owned lands into what today is his Yellowstone Club.
The mere fact that the exclusive retreat -- its boundaries armed with infrared security cameras to keep intruders out -- sits on land that once belonged to the public irks some residents.