Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Devil’s Thumb Ranch owners buy nearby B&B for staff accommodation

As more hill town homeowners become short-term tenants to fill their homes, local employees have fewer and less affordable options.

Bob and Susan Fanch, owners of the Devil’s Thumb Ranch outside Winter Park, have noticed that the problem has been going on for the past seven years – and especially when the epidemic began – so they’ve decided to take matters into their own hands.

“Winter Park employees are making good money but they’re not making the money they can to buy a house in this kind of market, and if you don’t rent, where do you live?” Said Bob Fanch. “The answer is to create employee housing on a scale. There is probably a shortage of one thousand beds at the moment.

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Last week, the couple bought their 500-acre farm and real estate at Wild Horse Inn, about two miles from the resort, a bed and breakfast for 2.7 million. They plan to convert the 2.5-acre property into three private cabins and a main lodge to accommodate Devils Thumb staff.

Wild Horse Inn opened at 1536 County Road-83 in Fraser 20 years ago, at about the same time the Fans bought the Devil’s Thumb. It has organized weddings, corporate events and leisure stays. The main lodge has seven bedrooms, including a private bathroom, and each of the three cabins has a king bed and a kitchen.

BusinessDen file

Bob and Susan Fanch, owners of Devil’s Thumb Ranch outside Winter Park.

Owners Christine French and John Cribery did not respond to requests for comment, but French said the couple plans to continue their wild horse catering business elsewhere. The inn will close at the end of September.

Fanches plans to give employees rooms within the hotel for 600 per month. They already have five buildings for staff accommodation with about 60 rooms, two on the farm and three nearby.

“It’s still not enough,” Fanch said.

Prior to the epidemic, Devil’s Thumb Ranch had about 100 employees, but due to staff challenges, it has now dropped to 250. As a result the resort is forced to cap 70% of the reservation. Fanch said he wants to hire 60 or more employees.

“We had a manager at a restaurant who rented a house for ০০ 2,200 a month,” Fanch said. “When Grand Lake caught fire last summer, they ate a lot of things, and her landlord raised the rent to $ 4,200 per month, basically forcing her.”

To address the growing issue of short-term rent, Winter Park City Council last week approved a program that would encourage short-term rent or second homeowners to convert staff to housing. The council approved 325,000 for the program, which expires at the end of the year, to help 400 workers.

Devil's Thumb Ranch has 500 acres of land ...

Courtesy Devil’s Thumb Ranch

The Devil’s Thumb Ranch has 6,500 acres of land, including a resort and spa.

Devil's Thumb Ranch owners buy nearby B&B for staff accommodation
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