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Granby Ranch kicks off season unaffected by ownership

Riders prepare to break the banner for one of the lifts on opening day at Granby Ranch.
Courtesy of Granby Ranch

The first two people up Milestone Ski Lift on Granby Ranch’s opening day were Brendon Dougherty and his son, Cavin.

From Denver, Cavin just turned 12 years old and skiing Friday was his birthday gift.

“This is our main ski place,” Brendon Dougherty said. “We’re up here a lot.”

All this week, employees hustled about cooking food, prepping lifts and making final touches for opening day.

With the resort up and running Friday, a visitor wouldn’t even know it was announced earlier this week that a lender intends to take back Granby Ranch property — mainly because that change does not affect the resort amenities.

“Essentially, it’s the real estate surrounding the resort that’s under new ownership, but the resort itself is not affected by that ownership transition,” explained Rachael Thackston, event coordinator for Granby Ranch.

The Granby Ranch real estate and the Granby Ranch ski resort are separate entities with a similar name and, until this week, the same owners. That can lead to some confusion, but it’s only the undeveloped land around the resort that’s changed hands.

That’s why, with 6 inches of fresh snowfall, opening day was “business as usual” for the 200 seasonal and 50 full-time employees at the resort.

“We have a whole staff and family of employees here,” Thackston said. “We’re all working so hard to bring our community back to Granby Ranch and get families on the hill. I hate for that to be forgotten in the main light of real estate changing hands.”

On Friday, the ski resort opened 11 runs and 3 lifts according to OnTheSnow.com. The two-seater Milestone Ski Lift was the first to ferry skiers and riders up the mountain.

According to chief operating officer, Greg Finch, snow totals are a little less than this time last year, but the weekend storm could change that quickly.

Finch started as COO at Granby Ranch just over a year ago and said he has only seen it improve during that time.

“I would say after a year, our focus has really been just doing the things we’ve been doing, but doing them better,” Finch said. “And I really believe we are.”

While the property around the resort changing hands won’t affect this year’s operations, Finch said there are some unknowns for next season.

“The next couple months might be a little more than interesting,” Finch said. “Once it all gets sorted out, there will be positive changes, I think.”

Front-line employees don’t think they’ll see much change this year either.

Tickets manager Harmony Johnston, who’s been at Granby Ranch for three years, was more focused on the new opportunities at the resort.

“Last year was awesome, but it’s definitely going to be hard to beat,” Johnston said. “I think with our staff, we have new people here and it’s kind of a younger crew. I think it’s going to bring in a fresh environment this year.”

The resort has already implemented some changes for this year.

The Granby Ranch Grill has a new executive chef who has redone the restaurant’s entire menu. Beyond that, the Grill is now offering breakfast and discounts for members.

Food and beverage manager Ross Palmer, who’s entering his eighth season at the ranch, said he’s looking forward to the improvements. As for the property near the resort changing hands, he’s not worried.

“It’s not going to affect us at all,” Palmer said. “We’re going to still keep going the way we’ve been doing things here at the restaurant.”

Jeff Wilcinski, rental manager, has spent his time preparing for ski season by testing out the equipment fleet, which includes new skis, boards, boots and a scanning system for inventory management.

“I’m anticipating it to be busier than it ever has been,” he said. “I’ve been here … since 2015 and every season has just gotten busier.”


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