I hope this message finds you all safe, healthy and hopefully enjoying some nice spring weather wherever you may be. In Shell, after several weeks of warm weather which spoiled us, on Easter Sunday we went back to winter with snow and cold temperatures. It was not very welcome! However, in April the cold weather never lasts long, and we are back to sunshine and warmth for a while.
Changing Weather in Wyoming – One day Winter….
A couple days later Spring and back again to Winter…..!
Over the past few weeks, I have been visiting with several of our guests and I have inquired about a subject to address in my second blog.
Of course, they love the pictures, video and information that Rebecca so professionally posts on a regular basis. They want to know how we are doing and how we keep busy now that there are no guests staying at the ranch. But many told us to write about the cleanliness and organization of The Hideout. They cited it as one of the reasons they keep returning. More importantly it is probably the main reason they trust coming back to The Hideout during COVID-19 times.
They want to know and are very interested in what we are doing to prepare the ranch to operate during times of Covid-19.
I thought that was great advice. That is why I will also touch on things we have been doing as standard procedure for many years at The Hideout. And how we plan to go the extra length to limit the risk of exposure when we do open the ranch for guests.
Having said that, no matter what we do, we cannot assume risk for infections. Assuming that risk is part of traveling and leaving your house these days. However, we can take this seriously and try to mitigate whatever risks we can. As a place open to guests in 2020, the activities, recreation and hospitality we offer carry a risk of exposure to COVID-19. While we are trying to limit these risks, the scope and duration of this horrible situation is not known. It means The Hideout can not eliminate risks associated with COVID-19.
The same goes for horseback riding and being around livestock. There is an inherent risk.
But we are a well-organized and clean outfit, which matters these days.
First Impressions matter!
Everyone who has been to The Hideout knows that we embrace and are passionate about being well-organized and operating a very clean ranch.
When new guests visit our tack room for the first time they are in awe. Most guests tell us spontaneously they have never seen such a clean and well-organized barn and tack room.
We clean the tack room, barn, trucks, our Sprinter van, etc. every week both inside and out. After they are all cleaned and checked they are lined up to welcome our guests as a first impression upon their arrival to The Hideout.
Even though we keep all these vehicles and buildings clean during the season, in the off-season we deep clean all buildings from ceiling to floor. All the vehicles are outsourced to a specialized detailing company for extra deep cleaning.
Entering the lodge and cabins, our guests systematically tell us “It’s all so clean, how do you keep it this clean?”
Cabins are usually cleaned daily by our housekeeping staff and mid-week the sheets are changed, washed and sanitized. That is the standard procedure we have been doing for years, COVID-19 or not. All the guest rooms are deep cleaned during the off-season and we have been doing this for years and years.
As a matter of fact, many guests mention that this is one of the reasons they like to come to The Hideout. We are always upgrading, improving, cleaning and tidying all aspects of the ranch. It is also one of the reasons that we see an ever-increasing number of discerning European, UK and US guests who have very high standards of clean and organized. Of course, this year with the limits on traveling, we will not see many of our overseas guests. Most of them have decided to move their reservations to our 2021 or 2022 season.
Clean & Organized has been Ingrained in our Culture from the Beginning
Since Paula and David started The Hideout in 1995, a clean and tidy culture was instilled and has always been present.
Marijn and I on taking over the ranch, brought this culture to even higher levels. I will admittedly tell you that dust and dirt are two of my mortal enemies. If I could put our ranch in a bubble with no dust, I would do so. Living in Wyoming one must deal with a certain amount of dust, but it doesn’t make me have to like it!
With Tom and Rebecca coming on board with a disciplined military background it could only become better. Rebecca and Tom are also fondly known as “neat freaks”.
The landscaping and cabins are meticulously maintained by Marco and his brother Ever. Every week we get compliments on this from our guests. If you were to visit both these gentlemen’s homes and see their yards, it shows they share the same culture.
Our chef Rachel is also a stickler when it comes to cleanliness in the kitchen and dining room. You will also find the “behind the scenes” areas of the kitchen and storage rooms clean and organized.
And while we all have high standards of cleanliness, our Head of Housekeeping Guille’s benchmark of clean is so off the charts, we refer to it as “Guille Clean”.
Clean in times of COVID-19
The standards of cleanliness will be taken to a new level during times of COVID-19. To anticipate this, we had our first COVID-19 Preparation Meeting with our core team February 24th to discuss:
1. What procedures do we need to put in place in all departments to anticipate and maximize safety of our guests, employees and third parties?
2. Make lists of antiseptic and cleaning products we needed to order for the year and how much more in anticipation of COVID-19?
3. What procedures and guidelines do we need brief our guests, staff and third parties for them to take responsibility for their and our safety and health?
4. Keeping our ranch clean, organized, and safe is a team effort between our team taking responsibility but also guests taking responsibility towards themselves, other guests, our team, our community and state.
5. How do we safely bring in seasonal employees and where do we quarantine these employees who are coming in from around the country?
6. Discuss flexibility for our guests to move their stay later in the season, to 2021 or even 2022.
7. Reflect and brainstorm on how we need to adapt our riding and non-riding activities, what to do in the dining room, office, etc. What are some of the things we usually do that we need to start doing different or stop doing for a while?
8. What additional items do our guests need to bring?
9. As this situation enrolls, we are updating and fine-tuning as we go.
10. Communicate and work closely together with State and County governments and County Health Officials
Managing expectations in times of COVID-19
Following Federal and Wyoming guidelines, we have postponed the beginning of our season. We have attended and will continue to attend multiple online meetings and webinars organized by the Wyoming Dude Ranch Association, North American Dude Ranch Association, America Outdoors, Trip Advisor, Wyoming Travel & Tourism, Best Ranches in America, etc. In short, we are working hard to do our research and inform ourselves about the best practices in these COVID-19 times and implement them.
Of course, the way we will operate The Hideout this season will be to maximize your experience and minimize risks. That is always our goal. For this reason, we will inform you in the coming weeks about extra procedures we have put in place and what our guests will need to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. Some items will be added to our “What to Bring List”, such as face masks, hand sanitizer, etc. and to let you know what we will provide to help protect you to reduce the risk of infection inherent in traveling during these times.
Though we will do our absolute best to provide a clean and safe environment at The Hideout, we want to make clear we will not assume this risk for you.
What else we are doing?
Well this is a time to spoil our dogs.
I finally had the chance to pull the 1965 Mercedes 250 SE Coupe out of one of the barns, repair the fuel pump, deep clean and pull 12 mouse nests out of the car. It fired up immediately and now I am in the process of detailing it in the basement of Trapper.
Robbi is practicing Freeze Art Imprints
He lays on the deck covered with ice and creates his own “Never-Lasting Imprints”.
We also replaced and upgraded the horse feed bunks, feed cans and plastic waste bins
Pictures & Videos
We promise we will continue sending you more videos, pictures and stories.
We hope to see you all soon and we are looking forward to welcoming you to the wide-open spaces in which we live. In the meantime, please stay safe and don’t be afraid to stay in touch with us. We all enjoy hearing from you!
Please tune in to our little day to day video’s of what is happening at The Hideout these days.
Stay safe, healthy and we look forward to seeing you!
Marijn, Rebecca, Rachel, Guille, Yadira, Tom, Marco, Mel, Ever and Peter