In 2005, I was the driver for the longest road trip I had taken in my post-collegiate life, and at the end of the drive, we arrived at an incredibly homey oasis – Dripping Springs Resort, just outside of Estes Park, Colorado.
It’s been nine years since our last visit, but I am happy to report that we’ll be back there in just a few short weeks. Why am I so happy?
First, it was our homebase on my first grown-up vacation. From Dripping Springs, we ventured out to see elk, mountains, unique shops and the most glorious National Park I have ever visited (and I’ve visited quite a few now).
Second, it was the first of only a few bed and breakfasts that I actually liked. Dripping Springs features private cabins with their own private hot tubs, and the hospitality is amazing.
Janie, Oliver and their dog Stanley made Colorado feel like home, they greeted us each morning with a fantastic breakfast, asked us about our plans and made gentle suggestions to improve upon them. We shared the current events of the day (Rita was aiming toward New Orleans, shortly after Katrina had devastated the city), and they even gave us a bottle of wine for a picnic lunch we were planning. I think that may have been part of the package we purchased, but it was a great touch.
How much of an impression did they make with their hospitality? I never remember names, and I remember theirs. They did something right for me to hang onto that for nine years!
Since that time, Facebook has become an important way for businesses to connect, and small businesses like Dripping Springs rely on developing repeat business and a great reputation. I was so happy the day I liked them on Facebook, because they regularly feature photos of the property. I feel like I get a little vacation every time I see the latest season picture, wedding shot or photo of a bear visiting their property.
And then last year, the flood hit.
I watched their Facebook page religiously, waiting for updates about what was happening to one of my favorite towns and my favorite getaway in that town. We saw stories of internet outages, raging flood waters, cabin being destroyed, highway being washed away.
The authorities came to demand evacuation, as they shut down their resort for the season early. They had to rush to close what they could and get out, because the highway was not safe to travel. I cannot imagine leaving my business and home behind like they had to, and Janie did a great job updating us not only about her story and her property’s story, but she also gave us on-the-ground updates about what was going on around them.
As they left for the season last year, they had angry customers trying to get refunds. (Some folks either didn’t understand or just did not care about the nature and scope of the disaster the resort had just endured.) Things looked bleak, as road crews were uncertain when the highway could be opened again, and some estimates put the recover at more than a year away.
I had such a strong emotional connection to Dripping Springs, and seeing all this calamity really tore at me. I shared their Facebook posts throughout the disaster, and some of my friends started following just because of the quality and detail of Janie’s posts.
So here we are, nine years and a terrible flood later, and my partner and I are prepping to head back to Dripping Springs – repaired and quickly back to her former glory.
I can’t wait.
Oh, and good news for readers – I’ll be doing some real-time blogging of the trip when it comes up in a couple weeks. I won’t give every detail, because I have to save some stuff for a rainy day, but I’m going to try for a daily update, so be sure you’ve subscribed in your RSS reader or signed up for the email list.