With the pandemic, many Americans have gained a newfound appreciation for the outdoors. The most well-known national parks have seen record numbers of visitors, while homeowners have clamored for more decks, patios, and porches. Three-quarters of architecture firms report an increasing popularity of outdoor living spaces, according to the American Institute of Architects’ latest Home Design Trends Survey.
Conestoga Ranch, a resort at Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah, has been well positioned to capitalize on this trend. Nicknamed the Caribbean of the Rockies for its vividly blue waters, Bear Lake has become a major tourist destination. Visitation to Bear Lake’s two state parks has more than doubled since 2016.
Founded in 2015, Conestoga Ranch offers furnished tents and covered wagons (yes, wagons). Think much less rugged camping—much more sophisticated glamping. The one- and two-bedroom tents come with electricity and heating, and the custom-made wagons can sleep up to six.
LUXURY LAKE CABINS AT THE OUTPOST
Now, Conestoga Ranch is upping the luxury quotient even further. Its new development, called The Outpost, will offer 35 cabins for sale. Whereas the ranch provides seasonal glamping, the stick-built cabins can be inhabited all year long.
“The glamping industry has continued to boom but it needs to evolve a bit,” says Tom Hedges, an owner and founder of Conestoga Ranch. “We’re seeing so much demand, even in the winter, but the tents and wagons are not overly in demand in the winter, so we wanted to transition to a year-round experience.” That also allows the company to hire permanent staff rather than relying on seasonal hires, Hedges adds.
In addition, the cabins provide owners with a potential revenue stream. When owners aren’t occupying their units, Conestoga Ranch can rent out and manage the cabins. The company also will manage the homeowners’ association and take care of the properties, including cleaning, lawn maintenance, and snow removal.
At about 970 square feet, each unit will be fully furnished with a consistent style concept that Hedges describes as luxury Alpine-style lake cabin. “It has modern mountain finishes and farmhouse stylings, so it’s not ultra-contemporary and not overly cabin, but a hybrid,” he says. California-based firm Dunnigan Sprinkle is designing the cabins, and Utah-based Smart Construction is building them.
With 18-foot ceilings, each Outpost cabin’s open-plan great room comprises the living, kitchen, and dining areas, while the bedroom wing has two beds and two baths. Each cabin has a large driveway with full hookups for motorcoaches. The outdoor deck, which features a firepit, wraps around the great room, so occupants can step from their motorcoach directly onto the deck. While big enough for a small car, the garage is meant more for owners to store their bikes, snowmobiles, and other items they won’t want to haul away after every visit. The upgrade options include a gas-burning firepit and built-in hot tub.
The Outpost’s owner-exclusive amenities include a casual bar and restaurant, a pool, and a fitness center, in addition to Conestoga Ranch’s current amenities, such as dining tents and a general store.
With high R-values, the cabins, which feature large expanses of glass, will be positioned to maximize sun exposure, helping to heat the spaces during the winter months. Some of the units will have a prominent view of Bear Lake, while others will have a partial view and will be priced accordingly. Sale prices start at $827,000.
It was the beauty of Bear Lake—and its potential for high-end development—that first attracted Hedges to the area. “Years ago, my business partners and I looked at some real estate in Bear Lake. We’d never been, and we were enamored with its beauty,” he says. “And we also saw the potential for, at that time, a rather undeveloped lake town.”
Hedges and his business associates partnered with Smart Construction to create Conestoga Ranch on an 18-acre parcel of land just outside Garden City. The Outpost will be built on a 13-acre parcel just north of the ranch.
With grading now complete, The Outpost’s infrastructure will be finished by December and construction will begin in the spring, pending snowfall. The cabins will take three to four months to build, with completion expected by summer 2023.