Girlahead went to New Mexico, to Vermejo Park Ranch, named for a Canadian River creek that is supposedly auburn-red color (see the early-morning hiking shot, above). Stretching over 600,000 acres 35 miles west of Raton NM, Vermejo belongs to ardent conservationist and media tycoon Ted Turner: in all he owns a staggering 1.1 million acres of unspoiled territory, which he is determined to protect and preserve for generations to come. This is a place for space, and nature, and authentic history for today.
Jade McBride, Director of Hospitality and effectively GM, is a farmer’s son from Idaho who found himself in hospitality via the US navy, followed by real estate, runs a heritage ‘hotel’ that has evolved from a homestead and old buildings dating back to the late 19th century. Main lodging is in the glorious two-floor Casa Grande, which has seven bedrooms and a Great Hall with a Steinway piano. It is complemented by Turner House and detached houses that in all add up to 46 bedrooms. In addition nearly all the McBride 70-strong team live in other converted buildings (the IT specialist, who formerly worked for the government, occupies the Old School House). On days off, everyone can hike and use the resort facilities, which range from equestrian to fishing and shooting – one skilled archer who fletches his own arrows. The team bonds over community cookouts and games.
Running a ranch operation is far removed from the usual gamut of hotel keeping but this happens to be Jade McBride’s forte. His background includes Amangiri, in the wild desert of Utah: he was later enticed to Vermejo Park Ranch from The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg MT, which he turned from a million-a-year loss to considerable profit, with occupancy up over 40% during his 20-month stay. Vermejo sees, in normal times, over 60% of business from repeaters – one keen fisherman has been here every year except two since 1969. Although winters and summers are somewhat temperate, much of the activity at the resort is seasonal. There is also the transport challenge. Vermejo is over four hours’ drive from either Denver airport, to the north, or Albuquerque, to the south, though there is a private jet facility at Raton NM. Despite these challenges, Jade McBride is confident and, he told Girlahead, his goal in five years’ time is for Ted Turner Reserves www.tedturnerreserves.com to be recognized as world leader in sustainable travel and eco tourism. Virtuoso, he says, is a key component.
On which subject, listen to Virtuoso’s Albert Herrera, below on MARY GOSTELOW GIRLAHEAD PODCAST