Luxury resort in Clark sells for $16.4M to family with deep Colorado roots
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Home Ranch in Clark, a staple of the exclusive international Relais & Chateau brand, has been sold.
The guest ranch will no longer operate as a luxury resort. Instead, a native Colorado family plans on settling on the ranch as a family compound while raising cattle and horses.
Knowing how important The Home Ranch has been to the vibrancy of North Routt, Janet and Scott McFarlane plan to keep many of the full-time employees while the family refurbishes the main lodge and guest cabins on the 570 acres they bought from the Stranahan family. Though they bought the property primarily as a family home, they hope to re-open the operations on a reduced program for events and various community causes.
“We intend to open the ranch for a small number of specialty, corporate and charitable events each year,” said Scott McFarlane, CEO of the Seattle-based Avalara software company. “We’ll never be the Stranahans. They are a hard act to follow, but we want to have a fantastic relationship with everyone in Clark and do as much for the community as we can, and just fit in.”
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In fact, their daughter Courtney, an animal protection activist and marketing manager, will settle into the ranch right away with her husband and baby son. Another daughter practices law in Denver and hopes to make Clark a second home for her family.
“We really liked the little town of Clark … the Clark Store is so quaint and convenient,” McFarlane said. “The kids (with their new baby) loved the preschool and charter school’s convenience.”
“And for us, we’re coming home to Colorado,” he added.
McFarlane’s wife, Janet, was born and raised in Denver where she also started her investment career, while McFarlane’s family has deep ties to Colorado, as well. His father Willis McFarlane was the first chairman of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, served on the Colorado Tourism Board and operated a 14,000-acre Bison ranch in eastern Colorado. Scott McFarlane was basically raised in the hospitality business since his dad operated hotels and restaurants across the state. And sure enough, one of those hotels was in Steamboat Springs.
“I spent a summer working at the Steamboat Village Inn when I was 15 doing various jobs in the hotel … front desk, bellman, dishwasher, cook, waiter and busboy,” McFarlane said.
While the family’s patriarch and his wife may have to wait several more years to settle permanently at The Home Ranch, they knew it was the right place after the entire family visited eight different Colorado ranches. The Home Ranch was the last on the list.
“I think the moment we drove into Steamboat, up the highway and up the driveway, we all knew this was going to be our unanimous choice,” McFarlane said. “The historic barn with the snow covered Zirkels in the background and 70 horses grazing was enchanting.”
The sale comes less than a year after the Stranahan family lost the beloved patriarch of their family, Steve Stranahan. He and wife, Ann, started The Home Ranch about 40 years ago with Ken and Sharon Jones. But realtor Christy Belton, of Ranch & Resort Realty, said the Stranahans’ real legacy is conservation.
“He (Steve Stranahan) was one of the very first people in Colorado, along with Jay Fetcher, to place property in conservation,” Belton said. “It opened up the door for people to consider conservation easements as a viable part of their ranching business. Steve Stranahan endeavored to show how agriculture, recreation and limited residential development could all work together to be a part of a vibrant community.”
The Stranahans issued a news release about meeting the McFarlane family and how well they believe they’ll fit in with the Clark lifestyle.
“The McFarlanes have deep ties to Colorado and its ranching traditions, and they have shown a genuine interest in the community of Clark and the legacy of conservation in the valley,” said the Stranahans in the news release.
Belton said the iconic Clark Store was not part of the sale, and members of the Stranahan family will maintain homes in Clark. The McFarlanes paid $16.4 million for 570 acres that includes the main 9,000-square-foot lodge, a historic barn, riding arena and numerous guest cabins.
The McFarlanes also inherited a thriving greenhouse that helped feed guests of The Home Ranch. As for the challenge of living in an area where the growing season can be as short as 60 days per year, McFarlane said he sees it as a challenge.
“I was just talking to the horticulturist,” said McFarlane during a phone interview from a ferry he was taking to his home outside Seattle, Washington. “We’re going to expand the greenhouse, and we’re trying to figure it out. I love to experiment and do different things. We are always up for an adventure.”
Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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