Creativity + Business at the Ranch at Rock Creek
“Chip, get it through your thick skull. Your calling in life is to be an artist posing as a businessman. In fact, prior to this downturn, and for the past decade, you were probably the best-paid ‘artist’ in San Francisco. Your work—both in the hotels you create and in your Joie de Vivre corporate culture—is admired by so many. You are rich, but just in a different way than most of America defines that word.” - Stanford GSB classmate to Chip Conley, as read in Peak
This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a wedding at the Ranch at Rock Creek, a high-end boutique hotel set in a 6,600 acre ranch outside of Philipsburg, Montana. The property was originally bought in 2007 by Jim Manley as a private family residence, fulfilling a childhood promise he made to his dad 50 years ago. Over the past 5 or so years he’s transformed it from a family ranch into a leading small hotel and retreat, complete with tons of outdoor activities like fly fishing & shooting, a spa, & saloon with a 4-lane bowling alley. Jim’s created a unique mission-driven culture in the wilderness, with over 100 motivated, hospitable staff from all over the west working harmoniously to deliver a great combination of rustic authenticity & luxury.
I love experiencing passion projects like this. Similar to Aire Ancient Baths, who excavated over 100 feet of bedrock to recreate an ancient Roman spa on Franklin Street in Tribeca, it takes a certain combination of vision, will and ambition outside of the realms of pure rationality to create. Success for the entrepreneurs behind businesses like these isn’t measured purely in dollars and cents - it’s seeing their dream come to fruition, creating a sustainable business and culture, and providing memorable experiences for thousands of employees & guests year in and year out.
Last week I met one of the foundational employees at the Wythe, the pioneering Brooklyn hotel, who categorized her launch experience there as the ultimate intersection of creativity + business. When these two elements come together, as they clearly have at the Ranch, the result is pure magic for everyone involved.