By Lucas Vader
As the new year begins, Cedaredge businesswoman Sarah Henderson, owner of Grand Mesa Outdoors, is transitioning into a new managerial position at the Cedaredge Lodge.
The new role, according to Henderson, will be in addition to her ownership and management at Grand Mesa Outdoors and will, in fact, compliment that role.
Already, as the owners of the Cedaredge Lodge brought Henderson into the picture, Henderson has already instigated a change by turning one of the lodge’s eight apartments into an Airbnb. She did this with prior experience under her belt, as she owns an Airbnb location in Gunnison as well.
“We just went crazy with bookings as soon as I did that,” Henderson said. “It was within three days we had 679 views, I think, and several bookings. I want to target that demographic. They’re respectful.”
With Airbnb, the host and guests each get reviewed through the system, meaning guests tend to behave themselves. They also tend to look for amenities such as kitchenettes, Henderson said, which the lodge already provides sufficiently, along with outdoor activity amenities, a hot tub and more.
And the Airbnb brings business to town. Henderson stated several times that her priorities lie in shopping local and supporting the hyperlocal economy of Cedaredge, including but certainly not limited to Henderson’s own Grand Mesa Outdoors.
“We can promote Cedaredge in a much bigger way,” Henderson said.
For her current outdoor and adventure merchandise business, Henderson said that the dual managerial position is incredibly beneficial. Already, guests have checked into the new Airbnb at the Cedaredge Lodge because they want to cross country ski on Grand Mesa. The location in Cedaredge for people to rent skis is Grand Mesa Outdoors.
Henderson said that, through cross planning, the new opportunity also allows people to keep skis out later because they now have the option to drop them off at the Cedaredge Lodge when Grand Mesa Outdoors is closed.
“I’m cross advertising all the time. My business in Gunnison, I have all my advertisements for [Grand Mesa Outdoors] over there,” Henderson said. “Well, I’m starting to see all my guests over there pop up on Instagram and Facebook on this business too, so I intend to do the same thing with the lodge.”
Henderson stated that she took the opportunity to manage the Cedaredge Lodge when the lodge owners came to her with the proposal. She and those owners agreed that the pairing was ideal and that the current managers were getting ready to move away.
The proposal was initially that the owners wanted to sell the lodge to Henderson, but she wasn’t ready to purchase it at the time. She did, however, ultimately agree to manage it. Much of that management is done remotely from Grand Mesa Outdoors, but Henderson did move into the lodge as part of the agreement.
She got done moving over the weekend.
“I said yeah, I think I can do that, I’m going to rearrange some irons, not taking any out, but I’ve got good people around me,” Henderson said. She mentioned that her two adult children, Russ and Kimber, are around to help, as well as an additional member of Grand Mesa Outdoors staff who can hold down the fort if need be. With her surrounding team, Henderson said she’s confident the arrangement will work.
Any other changes that may or may not come at the Cedaredge Lodge will be based on what the community seems to want and need. Like with Grand Mesa Outdoors, it will be a fine-tuning process. Henderson has no plans to remove herself from her three projects, and even hopes to continue brainstorming with fellow business owners on ways to ramp up the economy in Cedaredge.
On a side note, Henderson mentioned that she and Town Clerk and Economic Development Coordinator Kami Collins have had a few discussions on potentially finding a reputable brewery to bring into town.
“My goal is to draw as much business to Cedaredge as we can,” Henderson said.