With a population density of six people per square mile, few places are quite as suited to ride out COVID-19 as Wyoming.
But in the south-central part of the state, close to the Colorado border, sits a ranch that might offer the best accommodations of all.
At $25,000 per night, renting out Magee Homestead might not be for everyone, but for the clients it does attract, it offers an opportunity to quarantine with family while offering the ability to vacation with fly fishing, archery, and horseback riding.
“The decision was either to open or not,” said ranch proprietor Jeremy Belnap. “Then, we slowly started to get inquiries for families wanting to get away.”
Like so many businesses across the country, the ranch had to answer a difficult question during the months of March and April.
“We had originally chosen to close the ranch for the season and open back up for the 2021 season,” said Belnap.
With 7,500 acres of land to tend to and dozens of living spaces that require electricity, the prospect of closing was daunting and carried loads of overhead.
“Financially, we suffer if we close the night with two or four guests on property,” Belnap said. “We have a staff of 45 dedicated people. We spend that much on labor in a day so it can cripple you.”
As it was preparing to close, however, the ranch started getting calls from families, some of whom had stayed at Magee Homestead previously, that were interested in renting the entire ranch out.
After some consideration, Belnap and the staff made the decision to switch their business model to accommodate the buyouts, allowing them to stay open while offering the families a chance to stay safe away from home.
“It’s like we’re quarantining together,” said Belnap. “[It was] a light bulb moment. We took enough phone calls to say this could really make sense.”
At capacity, the ranch can house up to 12 couples at a time. At approximately $1,000 per guest per night, it requires a sold-out crowd on each night to reach its revenue ceiling, but Belnap says the buyouts offer more revenue with fewer question marks, and it is something they plan to continue once the worst of COVID-19 passes.
“It’s very efficient,” said Belnap. “It’s a lot of fun having a family here for entire week, where you really get to know the family and the kids.”