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FUN WINTERTIME ACTIVITIES ASIDE FROM SKIING

Sledding is one of many activities aside from skiing or snowboarding that families can enjoy in Grand County.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

Fun lurks around every corner in Grand County.

Contrary to popular belief, there is far more to do here in the winter than go skiing and snowboarding. As proof, we’ve put together a rundown of some of the fun wintertime activities, indoors and outdoors, awaiting families in Grand County. COVID-19 restrictions could apply.

SLEDDING AND TUBING

❆ GRANBY: Snow Mountain Ranch provides a sledding and tubing hill. There is no tow rope or moving platform to the top of the hill. A day pass must be purchased if you’re not staying at the ranch. A pass is $25 for adults and $10 for kids, and tubes are available at the Winter Pavilion, weather permitting. Only tubes provided by the ranch are allowed. Visit SnowMountainRanch.org or call 970-887-2152 for more.

❆ FRASER: Colorado Adventure Park offers single tubing at $25 per hour. Double tubing is $40 per hour. The park offers a variety of terrain and a Magic Carpet lift to the top. Kids interested in a bit more adventure can hop on a Snow Scoot, a Polaris 120 snowmobile for kids shorter than 5 feet and 90 pounds or under. The park is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. every day of the week. Call 970-726-5779 for more.

❆ WINTER PARK: Hideaway Park features a free sledding hill in downtown Winter Park. Sleds are provided for free on this small but fun hill next to a new playground.

❆ FRASER: The Historic Fraser Tubing Hill offers first-come, first-serve tube rentals for 60 minutes or 90 minutes at $25 and $30 respectively. No outside tubes or sleds are permitted, but a rental is included with the cost of the ticket. The hill offers a lift to the top and is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Call 970-726-5954 for more information.

ICE-SKATING

❆ GRANBY: Snow Mountain Ranch offers a rink under a covered pavilion with the Continental Divide as the backdrop. Ice skates are free to rent and those staying at the ranch have free access. Day visitors can purchase passes that include use of the ice rink and ice skates for $25 for adults and $10 for children. For more, 970-887-2152 ex. 4135.

❆ FRASER: IceBox Ice Rink is an NHL-sized, partially enclosed rink with skate rentals for $4. Non-resident fees are $6 for children 4-17, $7 for adults and $6 for seniors 60 and older. Children 3 and under are free. Check the ice rink schedule online at FraserValleyRec.org or call 970-726-5919.

❆ TABERNASH: Devil’s Thumb Ranch has an outdoor skating rink from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Rink access and skate rentals are complementary and reserved for lodging guests only.

FAT BIKING

❆ GRANBY: Snow Mountain Ranch has fat bikes, the snowy version of mountain biking that features giant tires and heavy treads. Guests or day visitors can use the trail. Day passes are $25 for adults not staying at the ranch. The ranch provides more than 24 miles of trails reserved exclusively for fat biking. A bike rental that includes a helmet is $60 for a full day, $40 for a half-day or $20 an hour. The bikes come in four adult sizes. For more, call the Nordic Center at 888-573-9622.

❆ TABERNASH: Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers fat bike rentals for non-lodging guests starting at $40 for a half day (8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or 1-5 p.m.) or $60 for a full day (8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.). Helmets are included. For more, call 970-726-9231.

WINTER AIR RIFLE BIATHLON

❆ TABERNASH: Devil’s Thumb Ranch offers its lodging guests a sport that combines cross- country skiing and rifle shooting for $50 per person, excluding equipment rental and trail pass. The experience lasts one hour and you must be 12 or older. Call 970-726-8231 for details.

HOT SPRINGS

❆ HOT SULPHUR SPRINGS: Tired of the cold? The Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa offers natural, hot, mineral-rich water in 21 pools and baths. Temperatures range from 95-112 degrees. The resort does not add chemicals, filter or recirculate the water. Rates start at $20 for adults. The resort is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends. Due to COVID, pool reservations are required with specific time slots for a two hour visit. Call 970-725-3306 or go to hotsulphursprings.com for more.

SLEIGH RIDES

❆ FRASER: Dashing Thru The Snow offers 45-minute sleigh rides through secluded woods and meadows in old-fashioned sleighs with approximately 16 seats, which will be assigned according to groups for COVID-19 compliance. Group rides are $40 for adults, $35 for ages 5-11 and $5 for 4 and under. The company also offers private rides on a smaller sleigh costing $295 for groups of up to four. Both group and private rides leave four times daily, at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 970-389-2977 or go to winterparksleighrides.com for more.

❆ GRANBY: Reserve a 45-minute winding sleigh ride through the Rocky Mountains with Snow Mountain Ranch, ending with a bonfire complete with hot chocolate. Adults are $45 and children are $35. Rides are available 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. but reservations are required. For more, call 970-444-1308 or go to snowmountainstables.com.

HORSEBACK RIDING

❆ GRANBY: Snow Mountain ranch offers one or two hour rides through the winter for ages 8 and older. One hour rides are $60 and two hours rides are $100. Rides are available daily from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. For more, go to snowmountainstables.com.

INDOOR ACTIVITIES

❆ THE FOUNDRY: The Foundry in Winter Park offers bowling lanes and movie screens to keep the whole family warm and entertained. Every other bowling lane will be open to allow for social distancing and 21 seats will be available per cinema. Food and drinks are also available. No ticket presales are available, but call for bowling reservations at 970-363-7161. The theater and bowling alley is open 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Check foundry-wp.com for movie listings.

❆ WYLIE’S PAINT AND GAMES: From the outside, Wylie’s looks like nothing more than an unassuming paint shop, but step inside and you will find a world of traditional and modern games. Whether families are looking for a board game, a vintage video game or a role playing game, Wylie’s offers a selection to buy and play in-store. Not sure how to play or what the rules are? Ask a Wylie’s employee and they will be happy to teach it. The store also hosts game nights, typically on Thursdays and Fridays, for larger group games, like Magic: The Gathering or Dungeons and Dragons. Check out the store’s Facebook page for the latest events. The game store is open 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

❆ GRAND PARK REC CENTER: Not just a gym, the Grand Park Recreation Center includes an indoor swimming pool, a rock climbing wall and gymnastics space complete with trampolines and foam pit for families that want to get active inside. Reservations are required due to COVID and visits cost $7 per hour. Day passes are not available this year. The rec center is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Register at www.fraservalleyrec.org.

SNOWSHOEING & NORDIC SKIING

Grand County is home to three Nordic centers and free trails maintained across its public lands, giving everyone in the family an opportunity to enjoy the outdoor activity.
Courtesy of Snow Mountain Ranch

GRAND COUNTY is a premiere destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. With three Nordic centers in the county and free trails maintained across its public lands, the county has something for any skill level.

Before heading out to cross-country ski or snowshoe, make sure to have a safety plan with proper clothing and equipment. You should also thoroughly research weather conditions and bring plenty of food and water.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch

In Tabernash 15 miles from Winter Park, Devil’s Thumb Ranch has over 70 miles of trails at the base of the Continental Divide. Dogs on leashes are allowed on certain trails.

Day passes start at $30 for adults (13 and older), $20 for seniors (65 and older) and $20 for kids 6-12. Kids 5 and under are free. The pass includes access to the ice-skating rink, and package deals and discounts with lodging are available. The ranch also offers ski and snowshoe rental packages.

Additionally, the ranch offers regular lessons for adults and children, as well as private lessons and tours. Visit DevilsThumbRanch.com or call 970-726-8231 for more information. Call 970-726-7010 for trail conditions.

Grand Lake Nordic Center

The Grand Lake Nordic Center has 20 miles of trails less than a mile from Grand Lake. There is a dog friendly snowshoe trail and ski loop. Day passes for cross country skiing are available at affordable rates. The center also has rentals for adults and kids ages 5-16 and package deals.

Nordic ski lessons are available by appointment for all ages and experience. Call the Nordic Center to reserve a day and time at 970-627-8008.

The center also has snowshoe rentals and over 3 miles of snowshoe trails, ranging from easy to advanced. While not groomed, the trails are well marked. For more go to www.SkiGrandNordic.org.

Snow Mountain Ranch

With over 120 kilometers of terrain for skiing, snowshoeing and fat biking – snow mountain biking – Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby offers trails for beginners to advance. Leashed dogs are welcome on some trails.

A single pass for skiing, snowshoeing or fat biking is available for adults and kids ages 6-12. There is also a transferable five-punch card that family members can share. Children five and under are free. Check the website and resort for a full listing of rates and deals.

Passes also give access to tubing, ice-skating and other amenities offered at Snow Mountain Ranch. If you’re staying at the YMCA of the Rockies lodging, trail passes are included in the stay.

Rentals are offered for adult skis or snowshoes, child skis or snowshoes, and the ranch offers a demo ski rental. For more, call 970-887-2152, ext. 4173.

WINTER WONDERLAND

Mount Craig, known locally as Baldy, sits snow covered in the distance as seen from East Inlet Trail last winter in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

WHILE TRAIL RIDGE ROAD may close in the winter, the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park stays open to provide an almost entirely private tour of the national park.

The west side of Rocky sees a lot of snow, creating a pristine wilderness and plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. While the park required reservations during the summer, you can stop by anytime this winter. Park passes are required and cost $25 per vehicle for a day pass.

The East Troublesome and Cameron Peak Fires have burned roughly 30,000 acres in the 265,769-acre national park. With the western side hard hit by the fire closures may be in place, so check www.nps.gov/romo for the most recent updates. East Inlet Trail, known as Adams Falls, and East Shore Trail have both reopened following the fire.

The first 12 miles of US Highway 34 through Rocky typically remain open though the winter, weather and fire permitting. The drive is a Narnia-esque landscape of snow covered mountains, fields and sky-scraping evergreens.

Even in the summer, the western side of Rocky is less busy than the eastern entrances. With winter cutting off one side of the park, it’s likely you’ll only see a couple cars at most.

Temperatures can drop far below freezing, so a car tour is a great way to enjoy the landscape. If you stick to driving, make sure you still take a moment to step outside and admire the environment. Even though it is cold, it’s worth bundling up to admire the silence created in the snowy, isolated location.

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean wildlife goes away. Look for moose along the Colorado River, while elk and mule deer are most active at dusk and dawn in the meadow areas. Stellar’s jays, gray jays, Clark’s nutcrackers and magpies are commonly seen in the park, even during the winter.

A few feet of snow don’t have to stop you from hiking, either. Just make sure to bring the right gear. Snowshoeing and cross- country skiing are a great way to enjoy almost all the western trails at Rocky.

Snowshoe rentals are available at On the Trail Rentals and Never Summer Mountain Products in Grand Lake. Never Summer also offers a cross-country ski package.

Make sure to dress in layers, wear boots to strap to your snowshoes and bring a pair of waterproof pants or gaiters to keep dry. While it may be cold, make sure to bring sunglasses and wear sunscreen as well. The snow makes for a mirror that doubles the intensity of the winter sun.

Always keep an eye on the weather as it can change fast and drop lots of snow quickly up in the mountains.

Adams Falls, which shows off a gushing waterfall in the spring and summer, becomes a symphony of running water muffled by the snow and ice above it. The Adams Falls trail is expected to be open this winter.

Any trails alongside the river gives the hiker both the crunching snow beneath their feet and the trill of water in the subdued forest.

Some of the more well- packed trails in Rocky might not require snowshoes, especially if it’s been a few days since the last snowstorm. However, these trails can be slick and if you happen to “posthole” (when your foot sinks into the snow), you should turn back.

For hikers and snowshoers, make sure not to travel on the trail created by cross-country skiers. Doing so creates a hazard for the next skier taking that path.

Even if you only have a couple hours, a wintertime drive through western Rocky makes for a magical experience.

THE “NEW” GRANBY RANCH

Granby Ranch is launching its winter season under new management.

Granby Ranch continues its legacy of affordable and beginner-friendly skiing and boarding under new management this winter.

After a turbulent summer, the resort’s new management has implemented a ton of changes — some for COVID-19 safety and others to upgrade.

Granby Ranch, which is just half an hour down the road from Winter Park Resort, tends to see smaller crowds than other major ski resorts. Fresh powder often lasts much longer with fewer visitors flocking to Granby after a snowstorm.

The ski resort will also be adhering to guidance from state and local health departments related to the pandemic. General Manager Jace Wirth said the resort has been working closely with officials.

“We’ll be adhering very strictly to that guidance,” he said. “That means there’s going to be some radically changed processes for indoor and outdoor amenities … All these processes are intending to keep our team and our guests safe.”

Wirth added that many of the guest-facing processes, such as rentals and the ski and ride school, are being updated.

He said the new management team has invested over $1 million in snowmaking systems, lift maintenance, digital systems, guest-facing technology, rentals and more.

“It’ll feel very familiar, but it will feel radically different with those and the COVID safety measures,” Wirth said. “It’s going to feel different and new. I think that’s exciting.”

While Granby Ranch will still be the familiar family-friendly resort, new management and COVID-19 will mean some changes to operations.

Lift packs for adults start at just $89.50 a day and $52 a day for juniors. Midweek passes, meaning ones that are only valid Monday-Thursday, are even cheaper at $36 a day for adults and $28 a day for juniors in packs of three.

Granby Ranch plans on keeping night skiing, with dates to be announced. The resort also offers a new rental fleet on site for all your ski or board equipment needs.

New this year is Granby Ranch’s “Worry Free Guarantee,” similar to other programs announced this year at Colorado ski resorts. If the ski area is closed

by a government mandate for more than 20 days or a stay at home order lasting seven or more consecutive days, passes will be transferred to winter 2021-22 on pro-rated basis.

The resort is looking at methods to control capacity, so check online at GranbyRanch.com for information on daily passes and the most up to date information.

ALL ABOARD

Granby’s Christmas Trains Display better than ever this year

Al Warner shares his love of trains with his grandson Luke during their visit to the 2019 Christmas train display in Granby.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

Starting the day after Thanksgiving, trains once again chug around a tiny Christmas village that has been a Grand County tradition for more than a decade.

The Christmas Trains Display in Granby features hours of work and details in every piece. And this season is going to be better than ever, according to Director Dave Naples.

The Christmas train display has five working trains chugging along the tracks of the model ski town that spreads 1,200 square feet. The Christmas village features two working ski lifts, 150 homes in the village and almost 400 figures. New this year, the display will include a working roadway for cars and extra Christmas decorations.

For the first eight years of this tradition, it was built for the holiday season somewhere in Granby and then torn down. The train display moved to its permanent location four years ago at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum, making it the largest permanent Christmas train display in Colorado.

The first year the display was open, 600 people visited. Now, almost 4,000 come to the display every Christmas season and Naples expects just as many visitors this year.

“It’s become a tradition, with people coming back year after year after year,” Naples said. “I have families that started with us and now their kids are teenagers and they’re still coming.”

The Christmas train display is a tradition for families at the Moffat Road Railroad Museum, as enjoyed here in 2019 in Granby.
Amy Golden / agolden@skyhinews.com

Al Warner was at the display the day it opened for the 2019 season with his son- in-law and grandson. They were visiting from Denver and this was their first time to the Granby train display.

Warner, who is a big train enthusiast, brought his grandson Luke because he hopes to get him interested in trains.

“I think this is super,” Warner said. “I’ve seen bigger ones but this is a great size for little guys. It’s just super to get them close enough to it to where they can appreciate it.”

Families often spend up to an hour and a half at the museum. Part of the display includes a scavenger hunt looking for small details throughout the Christmas village — and there are a lot of details.

According to Naples, it took four people working full-time for four months to build the display. They spend 500-600 hours working on it every year, meaning each year’s Christmas village is a little bit different.

“We can’t wait to come back,” Warner said.

Some exciting upgrades are coming to the museum this year as well. The railroad museum will feature a newly opened visitors center, which will be a Christmas store for the holiday season.

The Moffat Road Railroad Museum’s new visitor center offers a Christmas store for the holiday season. The 1957 building was saved from destruction in 2018 and opened this year.
Courtesy Moffat Road Railroad Museum

A Walt Disney crew built the visitor’s center in 1957 as the fun house attraction for the Magic Mountain Amusement Park. The building became the Heritage Square Amusement Park in Golden in 1971. It was added on to and became the Wedding Bell Chapel.

The Moffat Road Railroad Museum saved the building from destruction in 2018 and brought it up to Granby. The bell tower and steeple have been added to the roof and work has been completed on the inside, including a display of historical artifacts and gift shop.

Naples said the Christmas store will offer imported and artisan ornaments, decorations and handmade local gifts, along with model trains.

The railroad museum is also working on completed a children’s train ride that could open as soon as Thanksgiving, but that depends on when the locomotive and cars are finished being constructed. Naples plans to add on to one of the buildings on site and to work on the caboose this winter.

“The plans are pretty ambitious but we don’t know how to shoot low,” Naples said.

Find the Christmas schedule for the museum at moffatroadrailroadmuseum.org. Santa and reindeer will be visiting the museum Saturday and Sunday as well.

Naples is asking all guests comply with local COVID-19 guidance, including face masks. The number of visitors will be limited to two families per building, but no reservations are required.

Find the museum at 555 County Road 574 next to Kaibab Park in Granby.

Museums in Grand County

Headwaters River Journey

Winter Park is home to a one-of-a-kind museum that’s focused on water and sustainability by highlighting local waterways, such as the Fraser and Colorado Rivers. With over 31 exhibits, many interactive, the Headwaters River Journey engages visitors with games, real- world examples and creativity stations. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and free for children and students. Reserve a tour time by calling 970-300-3337 ext.1 or email info@headwaterscenter.com.

Cozens Ranch Museum

Learn about the pioneer days of the Fraser Valley and what it looked like to journey over Berthoud Pass on foot at the Cozens Ranch Museum. The first homestead, post office and stage stop in the Fraser Valley is now home to exhibits about the Cozens family, Doc Susie, President Eisenhower, Ute Native People and the discovery of Berthoud Pass. It also features a gallery of local artists and books on Grand County history. Tickets are $3 for children ages 6-17, $6 for adults and $5 for seniors. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Pioneer Village

Inside what was once the original Hot Sulphur Springs Schoolhouse, built in 1924, the Pioneer Village Museum was established in 1974. It’s also home to the original courthouse, county jail, a blacksmith shop and more. The skiing display highlights the humble beginning of the major Colorado industry in Hot Sulphur and also features 8,500 year old artifacts from the Windy Gap. The museum is open from 10 a.m.-4p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $6 or adults, $5 for seniors and $3 for children.

Kauffman House Museum

The Kauffman House is the only remaining log hotel built in Grand Lake prior to 1900 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The museum’s collection includes historic house displays, winter sports equipment and other historical artifacts from Grand Lake’s unique history. The museum is open for special occasions during the winter. Go to grandlakehistory.org for more.

 

Sky-Hi News announces 2020 Best of Grand award winners

Due to a state health orders, we have had to cancel the Live Best of Grand Premiere Party previously at the Foundry in Fraser, CO. Don’t forget to grab a copy of the Best of Grand Special publication in the Friday, Oct. 30 edition of the Sky-Hi News or stop by our office at 424 E. Agate Ave. in Granby to pick one up.

Winners will be announced October 30th at 5:00pm MDT

Winners will be announced October 29th at 5:00pm MDT

Best of Grand 2020 Award Winners

In the spotlight: Emily Haberkorn – Best Teacher

Emily Haberkorn’s students don’t usually raise their hands in class, but that’s because many of them are just figuring out what hands are. 

Haberkorn teaches infants ages eight weeks to 18 months at Grand Kids Learning Center. This year she was voted best teacher in Grand County. 

While schooling such young children might sound strange, Haberkorn explained that the work she does imparts some of the most basic knowledge to her students. 

“Everyone’s like, how are you a teacher if you work with infants?” she said. “Well, I do teach life things that you need. Someone taught you how to eat and how to use a spoon. Those are things people don’t think about.” 

Haberkorn has up to eight babies a day in her classroom, but no day is the same because all her classes are “baby led.” 

“With that range of ages, we do everything from just eating and sleeping to some art projects to just play,” she said. “We try to get outside as much as we can.” 

One of Haberkorn’s students is her 4-month-old daughter, Austyn. Haberkorn said having her own baby has made her all the more aware of the trust parents put into her to take care of their young ones. 

Haberkorn has been in the county for over 20 years and spent a long time in the resort industry. While she spent a while wanting to work with kids, she didn’t have the means to go back to school and further her education in that area on her own. 

Grand Kids provided an opportunity to be a part of that and is helping her with college classes, along with a scholarship through the Lions Club. 

She’s now been teaching at Grand Kids for three years, with most of that time spent in the infant classes. 

“One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life is work with kids, babies especially,” she said. “They’re so genuine. They’re the sweetest little things.” 

She added that it was an honor to be considered the best teacher in Grand County this year among so many talented educators. 

“Up here, we have some really great teachers and everyone truly does care about our community,” Haberkorn said. “I do love my families and it shows that my families love me.”

In the spotlight: 85Fifty – Best Food Truck

The best food truck in Grand County sits adjacent to the bar with the best beers on tap and on the second best patio. 

The unity between 85Fifty and Fraser River Beer Co. makes for an ideal experience. Inside a colorfully painted trailer, 85Fifty offers a diverse menu with flavors that can’t be found anywhere else in the county. 

The Korean beef sandwich is everyone’s favorite, but fusion foods like the Korean mushroom Philly and a jalapeno elk bratwurst are some of the delicious dishes pub-goers often enjoy with their drinks. 

“We have stuff on the menu that’s just not on other menus,” owner Androw Miller said. “That was the whole point, to try to set up something that was a little different.” 

85Fifty opened in May 2019. When Miller was given the opportunity to start the business, his mind went to the child he and his wife were expecting. 

“I just wanted to do something to try to set my daughter up,” Miller said. “You know, try to better her quality of life.” 

Even with the pandemic, Miller said that business this summer has been better than last. He credits that to the growing reputation of 85Fifty and being able to stay open during the stay at home orders by adapting to the to-go methods required by COVID-19. 

“That was kind of trying, but with the way the food truck was set up, we were able to stay open and stay in business, which was good,” he said. 

Miller has enjoyed having strong support in the community and loves that 85Fifty has become so appreciated. For Miller, the best part of the venture has been the ability to work for himself. 

“It’s kind of the dream,” he said. “I work a lot, so it’s one of those things where it’s a lot — but at the end of the day it’s still pretty rewarding.” 

With unique flavors and hearty meals, 85Fifty has become a locals’ favorite in Fraser.
85Fifty-2

In the spotlight: Two Pines Supply – Best Bike Shop

A young multi-sports store has become the best bike stop in Grand and one of the best sporting goods stores in a county full of recreational opportunities. 

Two Pines Supply opened in May of last year and has seen two busy summers selling, servicing and renting just about any piece of outdoor equipment. 

“The only thing we really don’t do right now is kayaking because we don’t have space,” owner Chris Olivier said, adding that he hopes to add that as soon as it’s possible. 

Ranging from bikes to hiking and camping gear to maps and snacks, the store has a little bit of everything for the outdoor lifestyle. 

Olivier and his wife had been looking to settle down in the county, a place Olivier had enjoyed recreating in all his life. The couple started the business after spending time in various parts of the biking industry and realizing that some of their favorite products weren’t available in Grand. 

That’s part of what makes Two Pines’ offerings so unique. 

“We carry brands that we believe in,” Olivier said. “The brands we carry in the store are what we use in the outdoors.” 

Customer service is another important part of the store’s business model. Olivier explained that whether a customer is buying a $10,000 mountain bike or just one snack, he wants them to have the same, excellent experience. 

He emphasized that for some recreationists passing through the area, Two Pines might be their only stop. The store wants to make sure that every person passing through walks away happy with the service and with Grand. 

“For a lot of these people, we’re the only touch point they have with the county,” Oliver said. “We’re making sure people have a positive experience while they’re here.” 

In the spotlight: Resort Management Group – Best Property Management Company, Best Lodging

With a background in hospitality, Mike Claney quickly cozied up to the idea of starting his own business when the opportunity was presented in 1998. 

Twenty-two years later, that business — Resort Management Group — has won best property management company and tied with Devil’s Thumb Resort for the best lodging company, as Resort Management Group operates dozens of condominium associations and HOAs, about 60 timeshares and almost 100 rental units across Grand. 

About half of the properties are in the Granby Ranch area while the other half reside in the Winter Park and Fraser Valley area. Together, they give guests a wide variety of options, ranging all the way up to a luxurious home at the base of Mary Jane that goes for up to $5,000 a night at Christmastime. 

Before owning his own business, Claney worked in the hotel industry, teaching him a set of skills that served him well when he was working for a board that graciously gave him the chance to start his own business in the late ‘90s. 

“That hotel business was very important,” Claney said of him coming into the business. “It taught me a lot of the basics about how to operate properties and what was important in guest service.” 

With a focus on the customer experience and surrounded by some “great people,” Claney quickly grew the young business to cover HOAs and properties that operate like hotels. 

Then in the early 2000s, vacation rentals came onto the scene, and Resort Management saw an opportunity to latch onto the booming new market. 

Now, Resort Management Group exists as a full-service property management company that’s a one-stop shop for anyone’s property management needs, including everything down to training and employing its own housekeepers, many of whom have been with Claney for five years or more. 

Measuring the business’s growth, Claney could point to the heightened number and amazing quality of the company’s rental units, but he thinks looking at the people who’ve grown with the business, some of whom were working for Claney even before he started it, might be the best way to truly see just how far they’ve come together.