‘The Pink Palace’: Getting to know the new owners of Trail Riders Motel
Mike Rice and Erik Solberg grew up in Arizona, but their passion for the mountains and small-town atmosphere make Granby the perfect home. Today they’re the new owners of the Trail Riders Motel, giving them a chance to be ski Grand County’s backcountry and get to know the locals from a town they once visited often.
Rice and Solberg have known each other their entire lives, first meeting on their little league baseball team and staying close ever since.
“We grew up together in Flagstaff in northern Arizona,” said Rice. “We both graduated from Northern Arizona University. Erik moved to Denver, and eight months later I chased him up there with dreams of being ski bums. We just had to find a way to the mountains.”
In Denver the two worked for a uniform rental company as route and service managers, managing accounts and drivers, and delivering uniforms. After 16 years, they decided to leave corporate America and start a new life in the mountains.
Rice said they were repeat visitors to the Trail Riders Motel, and knew the couple that ran it. They were interested as soon as they discovered the previous owners, Jack and Donna Kolin, were ready to retire after owning the motel for over 25 years.
They made the transition in May, right before their busiest season in the summer when visitors come up for weddings, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities.
Both Rice and Solberg attribute the early success they’ve had running the hotel in part to the work the Kolin’s put in over the years.
“We’ve obviously had an extremely busy summer, but the previous owners have been there to support us,” said Rice. “The way they handed it off to us, they wanted to see us succeed.
“Between them and the couple that was running it we were well educated coming into it. They told us what to expect and how to handle certain situations.”
The two said their favorite part of running the motel so far has been connecting with the locals and the visitors that come up to stay, and that the layout of the motel creates a natural social dynamic for guests to interact and swap stories.
“My favorite part so far has been the people,” said Solberg. “we’ve had some really awesome guests so far. It’s awesome to get to hear from old-timers who were born and raised here years ago.
“And the way we’re set up in summer evenings all the different groups of people just come hang out drinking beet and getting to know each other. It’s like a different party every night.”
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