The University of Wyoming’s team nickname is the Cowboys. Needless to say, the state proudly wears its Stetson and whatever other cap that comes with life on the high desert plains. Sure, state capital Cheyenne has its big-city ways, but remote places like Saratoga tend to move at a slower pace. And that’s just how locals intend to keep it.
Jeremy Belnap is proprietor of Magee Homestead, a gorgeous nine-cabin Wyoming ranch that earned a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star distinction in its first year of being inspected — a rare feat. Belnap, a New Hampshire native who moved to Saratoga a year ago, knows that there’s something special about life in this part of the country. But he also realizes that it’ll take more than rolling hills and flowing streams to keep the awards coming.
During our recent chat, Belnap tips his hat to his tremendous staff while explaining why visitors need to put Wyoming atop their high-end travel bucket list.
You’re a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star property in your first year of being rated. To what do you credit for this accomplishment?
It is such an honor to receive this rating and, really, the credit goes to the amazing team of individuals that I have the pleasure of working with each day. Since the inspection process leans so heavily on service, this rating is a testament to their passion and work ethic for providing our guests with indelible memories. They truly love doing what they do and it shows in their daily interactions with guests because it is authentic.
Additionally, this ranch, and the facilities that are on it, reflect ownership’s passion for excellence in everything that we do.
Why are these stars important to you and your team?
The Five-Star rating is so important to us because it is a reflection of the team and the level of service that they work so hard to provide. It is the recognition that they deserve so much.
Health and wellness proudly flow through Magee Homestead’s DNA, too. How do you combine those aspects with luxury travel so well?
As you enter through our private gates into the ranch, you immediately feel a sense of tranquility and ease. The natural setting amid the Wyoming wilderness and high desert prairie is inspiring and sets the tone for complete relaxation.
Our dedicated spa and wellness pavilion, along with the unique outdoor adventures, allows for a feeling of renewal that enriches the body, mind and spirit. The boutique size of the ranch curated to adults provides a feeling of supreme intimacy that allows for a truly one-of-a-kind luxury experience.
What are the challenges of running an upscale property in Saratoga, Wyoming?
Obviously, Saratoga is in a very remote part of Wyoming, so we are a seasonal ranch. It is a challenge to get the level of product that we really want to provide our guests for their culinary experience. That is why our working guest ranch and our owner are committed to a couple new programs that help us to work towards sustainability.
We recently unveiled our Akaushi herd, which provides our own beef that is raised right here on the ranch. We also have a 7,000-square-foot greenhouse, so that we can provide our guests with our own produce also grown right here on the ranch.
When a couple checks out of Magee Homestead, what are a few thoughts you want them to carry home with them?
We strive to create an emotional connection with our guests so that we are able to deliver the vacation of their lifetime. They, in turn, are then given the opportunity to connect with their loved ones in a meaningful way. When they leave us, we hope that a feeling of romance and intimacy has been rekindled and that they are compelled to return because we changed their outlook on life for the better in some small way.
For the person who’s never visited Wyoming, what is he or she missing?
Many of our guests come to us because they want to disconnect and get out of the big city. Our landscape is so diverse. It’s also the original Cowboy State. Those simple, genuine, honest, hardworking qualities of the cowboy way are still embedded in our Western way of life.
Most guests leave here being overwhelmed with how big the sky is, how moving nature can be, how the spirit of the West can really be life changing, and how time can just seem to stand still while you’re here. I mean, there isn’t even a stop light within 30 to 45 minutes of our ranch. The openness of the world around you leaves a lasting impression on your soul.