The Nitty Gritty Details of Running a Resort: Wimps Need Not Apply

Workamper housekeeper jobSince Jim got the world’s tiniest violin out and told you about his hard days here at the ranch, I’ll take this opportunity to tell you what I’ve been up to.

This summer, for me, it’s all about cleaning. I’m on the housekeeping and laundry squad. Rah! Rah! Rah!

Some days it’s just me, another workamper, and co-owner, Paulette Vickers. Mid-week, my job can be easy, and there might not be a single cabin to clean. On these slow days, I’ll go work in Paulette’s garden, which is a great change of pace, since I love playing in the dirt, and her yard is awesome.

But on the weekends, when we have to turn over nine cabins before 3pm check-in, that’s when things get really dirty, and the “all hands on deck!” call will go out for everyone to pitch in.

Tourists, Please Don’t be a Slob


There are about 13 cabins total. Most are two bedrooms, but some are four, and they can be a lot of work to clean. Most guests are well behaved and keep the cabins relatively neat, but occasionally you’ll get one jerk who decides he has the right to leave a disgusting mess for us (while probably thinking; “hey, it gives people jobs“).

Scrubbing floors, cleaning grease off stovetops, sanitizing bathrooms and changing linens is exhausting. It’s mindless and repetitive, and will wear you down quickly if you don’t have a good attitude about it. For me, this job is over at summer’s end, so I look at it like that. Plus, the Vickers family are the greatest, most down to earth people. They’re incredibly generous, kind, funny, and thoughtful, and they make it really fun to be here, even on the hardest days.

All in the Family, All in a Day’s Work

Larry and Paulette Vickers Lake City ColoradoI look at Paulette, and I don’t know how she’s done it for so long. She’s been heading up the housekeeping crew, among her many other roles, for around 30 years. She and husband Larry took over the ranch from Larry’s Dad, Perk, who took it over from his dad. The ranch has been a resort since the 1920s, and the Vickers family has owned this incredible 1800 acre property since the late 1800s.

When I first accepted this assignment, I was surprised to learn that Paulette would be working right alongside me. I assumed only workampers did the grunt work. But what I learned was that in a small, family run resort like this, nobody is above housekeeping duties, even the wrangler, Jeremy. Well, almost nobody thinks they’re above it . . . but that’s a future discussion.

I’m Such a Wimp
This job is hard, but it’s been another insightful step along our path to researching what we want to be when we grow up. I’ve been asking myself: Do I really want to be a resort owner? The answer: no, at least not of a resort on this scale.

Hard work doing laundry as a workamperCatering to tourists on this level seems like one of the harder ways to make a living, and to me, I think that hobby farming (something I still really want to do) would have far greater rewards.

I’m disappointed in myself for being such a wuss, and scratching off “Resort Owner” as a future occupation. But, I’m grateful that I learned this about myself, before we blindly bought a resort and dove in head first. After all, these little discoveries are exactly what our journey is all about.

P.S. Ever thought you wanted to get into the resort business? Then I highly recommend reading the book, “I’m Living Your Dream Life,” by Michelle VanOrt Cozzens. It’s an entertaining read about a young couple that decides to flee their big city lifestyle in Oakland, CA, and buy Sandy Point Resort, in Northern Wisconsin. Cozzens gave her book that title, because so many of her guests always tell her “You’re living my dream life!” But being a resort owner isn’t always a dream, and Cozzins’ book gives a truthful, humorous look at her “dream life.”

9 thoughts on “The Nitty Gritty Details of Running a Resort: Wimps Need Not Apply”

  1. Dear Rene and Jim,
    So uncallous about calluses, how refreshing. Hard physical labor is a great time to rediscover focus and of how to be in the moment. Imagine daydreaming while building a deck or repairing a roof or cleaning a latrine? Dangerous to say the least.

    Pshaw to dream states says I, singing is where it’s at, especially Mozart. My favorite aria is Voi che sapete che cosa e’ amor. Rene, if you could pull this three minute piece off whilst the rotation of your scrubbing mitts move with conviction then you would elevate the task to nothing short of glorious. Or, if that Aria is to sappy and soft for you then try “Il tenero momento”, true, the range required can be demanding but its power and dynamics more than merit the effort.

    You can do it Rene, guide those rubber gloves with the attuned vision of a hawk in search of prey. Put fear in the heart of all bacteria and let the ancillary grime baring surfaces know there will be order in this house. Charge forward in spite of all, move chairs, tables, get behind that fridge, don’t settle for less than pure excellence, not perfection, excellence as most people can agree on excellence.

    Ah, I am ever so envious of your prospective outcomes, you know, when you step back and say, “job well done”! Pour that glass of Pinot Grigio Rene, pat the dog on the head, look up to the sky, and toast your results.


  2. Kelly, we need to get together and swap stories sometime! Our place is pet friendly too. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about when I write about the work here! Thanks for reading.

  3. Oh Rene, so true ! I bought the book….I’ll read it then pass it on to my boss Kirsten to read. Who is living that dream ! We have 15 cabins to change over each Sat. between 10-3:00… Usually 5-6 cleaners ( when we can get them to all show up) We have seen it all… Because we are on the beach, we have sand to deal with, also we are pet friendly… At least I dont have to worry about joining a gym… all the exercise I need is provided in abundance!
    Take care and have ***fun***.

  4. Your post reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom thinking that I might like to be a librarian because I liked to read or someone else who thought it meant I ought to run a bookstore. Obviously it doesn’t follow any more than wanting to run a resort because one likes to go to them.

    But, your’e right, better to find out what’s really involved before you sink your life savings into something that wasn’t what you thought it would be.

    So, uh, is it possible that JIM doesn’t like to do housework. Oh, no, it’s JERRY, right? 😉


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