The Whitefish Bike Retreat opened its doors in 2013. It is funny to look back on that first summer when I did everything myself- cleaned the Lodge, shuttled guests, and took all reservations by hand. Now, in our fourth summer, I have an amazing staff to help our guests. It seems like yesterday that I was picking up our first guest at the Amtrak Station, only 15 minutes after hanging the final window blind, completing the construction of the Lodge. From that very first guest to the guests joining us today, it has been nonstop and quite the exciting ride.
The barn before it became the lodge
I have been asked many times, “how did the vision for the Whitefish Bike Retreat come to be?” I never imagined myself starting and owning a business. Throughout my life, during trips, adventures, and experiences all over the world, a concept started developing, and that finally led me here. I never really felt like I was settled or at home until I moved here with my 2 sons after a divorce back in 2012. I moved across the country with my 2 sons alone and not knowing anyone or what lay ahead of me. I knew Whitefish as I had been coming here for over 12 years prior to moving here. But once I got here I had to figure out how I was going to live my life at this point, where I was going to live, and how was going to earn a living. So, there was no big grand idea right out of the blue.
Bringing a vision to life
Pretty scary life change for sure but I have always looked at change as a way to grow and moving toward the unknown is like riding my bike – you just never know what will happen next but it will surely be an adventure. That is what keeps me young and happy!
I found this property, and while I was looking at it with the real estate agent, I heard the mountain bikers out on the Whitefish Trail that passes right next to this property. That was when I knew I had to figure out a way to purchase it. I got a little creative and eventually figured out how to make everything work – still not really having any idea with what I was going to do exactly with the property – just that I wanted to build a place to support cyclists. It was when I took ownership of the property things started to move fast and ideas started to develop every single day – still never having a grand plan. My friends and children will tell you I am a woman of action and once there is something stuck in my head I cannot let it go. Now that I am older I see that trait throughout everything I have accomplished in my life.
The renovated "barn" becomes a welcoming respite for guests at the WBR
The 20-acre property started with a pole barn, a shed, a house, and a garage. The barn was renovated into the Lodge, which is the heart and soul of the Whitefish Bike Retreat. The shed building was developed into our office/camp store, which now welcomes all who visit. The bonus is I get to live here on the property with my sons so my commute to work is a pleasure! The campground and bathhouse structure were built next, and then the trails, pump track, Frisbee disk golf course, skills area, and ridge deck were constructed slowly over the years to finish off the vision. Now the Whitefish Bike Retreat is here for all to enjoy! A touring cyclist can find rest, families and friends can vacation and enjoy all the beauty and activities in this area, and mountain bikers can come and explore the sweet Montana dirt!
Every detail was done with the cyclist in mind
I definitely had no final vision in mind on how this place would look – it was more of a feeling that I wanted all to experience – to feel welcomed, peaceful, relaxed, and get all the support they need while visiting to make their stay easy! The Retreat is still developing and growing every year – our guests are what make the Retreat experience so unique and everyone that has passed through here has left an impression that shapes this place.
That first guest has been back every year since and that seems to be an occurring theme – guests come for a day or two, not really knowing what the Whitefish Bike Retreat is all about and stay longer and return again and again. That is how I measure success – Happy Guests!
For more information about the Whitefish Bike Retreat you can visit them online at http://www.whitefishbikeretreat.com/
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