Dude Ranch Life: Keeping up with the Joneses Part II

snowshoeing in Colorado

On Monday we announced the exciting news of the new owners of Vista Verde. So many of you sent nice words of encouragement to them, but some of you had that concern of, “What if they change the place we love?” So, I thought it might be nice to speak to that from the perspective of someone who has been here for a long time and worked for more than one owner.

Over the past several months we have been getting to know them a little. But this week we got a chance to really dive into learning about this amazing family. Laura and Chris showed up late Wednesday night with 5 of their kids, and just left this afternoon to head back to Chicago to catch up with the rest of their family. The days they were here were action-packed and every moment was well spent. They got out on horseback, tubed with the kids, went into the back country on skis, sat through meetings with Ben, Charlie and yours truly, got trained on the behind the scenes workings, went snowshoeing (photo above is Laura coming down from Hinman Lake), hosted a staff Christmas party, and they visited with all the guests. In addition to that, they got to experience what happens when things don’t work at the ranch. The huge storm that just rolled through this area left much of Northwest Colorado without power for a period of time. As we’re a little further down the line, it took a bit longer to get power back up. Oh boy, it was an adventure. From smoking out the Great room when we lit a fire (note to self…when the power is out the fan won’t work. When the fan doesn’t work the smoke doesn’t go up the chimney), lighting lanterns as the sun went down, and at the same time dealing with the challenge of snow removal with this wet, heavy snow we got, it was a pretty realistic welcome to dude ranching. Despite the amazing facilities, the great infrastructure, and the well-versed staff, the truth is when you have this many buildings, this much extreme weather, a staff of 60, and a herd of over 100 horses, there is always something exciting going on here!

Disclaimer from the PR department: These types of situations are far and few between. This was a crazy day that will go down in history as the epic day that started the Winter 2016-17 season. One for that book about dude ranching that we’ll write someday. 

Anyway, back to the message, which is after spending the past several days with Laura, Chris and their kids we are more than confident about the direction the ranch is headed, and the fun we’ll have with this family as the owners. They are falling in love more and more with the ranch and can’t wait to be a part of everything that we’re doing. We’ll see them off and on this winter while the kids are still in school, but then come summer Laura and the kids are planning on spending most of their time out here. The coming months are going to be full of just getting to know how things work here, why we do what we do, and wrapping their heads around all that goes on behind the scenes. And we’ll be running our programs like we always have so rest assured that the same team you’ve come to know will be here doing what we do, which is to constantly look at ways to make the guest experience better.

To close, just some fun facts about the Jones:

  • They are a big sports family–runners, team sports, you name it.
  • Their youngest kids are 11 and the oldest is in college.
  • Yes, they have a 12 person passenger van they use when they are shuttling the whole crew around.
  • Chris has an unbelievable (we think photographic) memory, but he claims he doesn’t always remember names.
  • Laura mentors a group of young moms once a week.
  • Their kids are incredibly kind, respectful, fun, and game for anything.
  • The family loves to downhill ski, but just discovered backcountry skiing and are kind of addicted.