After hundreds of trail rides and photo ops, the 34 beloved horses were unceremoniously delivered to an auction house. It seemed that the ranch's decades-long hayday (ahem) was over. Just when all seemed lost, in an earthly miracle of determination and resourcefulness Mike Offner, a former barn manager for the ranch, was able to rescue the horses from auction and, in January of this year, purchase the 150-acre property.
Offner holds a masters degree in business from SUNY New Paltz and has worked in a variety of fields including on Wall Street and as a disk jockey. He was able to make the leap to purchase the dude ranch thanks in part to two silent investors, scoring the property for under Sterling National Bank’s $2.5 million asking price. “In the end, we paid a fair price of what it was worth,” Offner says. He plans to buy 25 additional horses and make over $1 million in renovations over the next three years. But he’s not waiting to reopen the newly christened Pine Ridge Dude Ranch to eager customers.
On April 2, Pine Ridge held a “soft” reopening with its most faithful fans. “It was very successful,” Offner says. “We had about a hundred people here who were dying to come back and see the ranch.” Activities and attractions included mounted wranglers, horseback trail rides, tractor rides, a magic show, and other social activities for kids and families.
Offner is planning the grand opening for Memorial Day Weekend. “We’re going to have fireworks as a special treat,” he says. That weekend, May 25-27, Offner will unveil 50 renovated rooms and debut the completely revamped rock wall, fitness center, massage and spa services, and new horseback riding programs. There will also be a wine tasting and a ribbon cutting on Friday, May 25.
Offner plans to make many renovations over the few years. This will include expanding the wedding and event spaces, both with an outdoor tent venue and a brand new indoor venue. He also wants to create an “indoor activity center connected to the pool,” which will feature a waterpark and indoor basketball. He will strive to make the Ranch more self-sustaining by adding a chicken coop and a garden and upgrading the heating and cooling system to be more environmentally-conscious.
Offner feels his business education and Wall Street background will serve him well in his efforts to make Pine Ridge a profitable and sustainable business. However, he said, “my masters from SUNY New Paltz will help a lot more than my time on Wall Street.” He also feels that his deep roots in Pine Ridge will serve him well. “The most important factor for my success here is going to be that I started off as a guest,” Offner says. “I rode a horse here when I was four years old.”
He also expressed hope that millennial families, a fast-growing demographic, will find the refurbished Pine Ridge attractive, stating that while he’s “trying to keep it as a dude ranch environment,” he also wants to try to be more “modern and current.” In addition to creating a greater focus on farm-to-table dining and adding vegan and gluten free options to the menu, he is promoting heavily on social media. He also believes that the new sunset trail ride and BBQ horseback outings will be fun options for young families.
- Chef Jeremy Hughes