Michael Brown first came to Raton twenty years ago, as a stopover for a road trip to Colorado Springs from Dallas. Then, he explained, he and his wife, Brandy, just kept on coming back. They had fallen in love with Raton's scenery and loved the unique design of the Raton Pass Motor Inn, where they usually stayed. Michael noticed last January that the previous owners of the Raton Pass Motor Inn had put it on the market. He felt it was an opportunity he could not let slip away.
Looking around the Motor Inn, one can understand why the Browns fell in love with the location. The lobby is dominated by a large wooden table and gathering space heated by a Mid-Century Modern Malm fireplace in burnt orange. Corrugated metal, antique signs, and part of a vintage Aermotor windmill decorate the walls. The rooms are similarly retro, with different themes based on styles from the fifties, such as the room dedicated to pin-ups or the western-themed Santa Fe Trail room.
Before purchasing the Raton Pass Motor Inn, Michael did commercial property management for law firms and condominiums. Brandy and Michael plan to utilize a marketing approach for their business that focuses on Raton as a travel destination. Based on Brandy's market research, Michael expected tourism to increase in New Mexico due to the rise in road trips.
Michael explained that he envisioned creating itineraries or tours to attract guests to the Motor Inn from nearby cities to participate in outdoor activities such as kayaking or bicycling and then enjoy shopping and dining downtown before returning to the Motor Inn. Eventually, Michael explained, he hoped to work with local outfitters to offer combination packages for those coming to the Fishers Peak area for hunting and fishing. Additionally, Michael explained, he was working to bring in a small contingent of role-playing game (RPG) and board game enthusiasts for a gaming event.
Purchasing a motel in the middle of a pandemic is not without its challenges. The Raton Pass Motor Inn can only offer occupancy in 25% of its 16 rooms under the New Mexico coronavirus restrictions and can no longer provide continental breakfasts to guests. Michael explained that they found workarounds to continue offering full hospitality, such as providing breakfast-to-go bags. He also said that he and his wife intended to continue putting on the Motor Inn's classic car show. "There's just a lot of potential here," Michael said, "We're right here in the middle of nature, but we are very close to things."