New Owners Continue Legacy in Pearce Lodging
Herald/Review Cochise Life: Friday December 10, 2021
PEARCE — It checks all the boxes —beautiful mountain views, quiet country setting, comfortable rooms, opportunities to see some of the area’s wildlife and exploration of the nooks and crannies of the Chiricahua Mountains.
DreamCatcher Inn at Chiricahua is the endeavor of Philip Keesee and Ramon “Ray” Robles, both retired, who took over the bed and breakfast from John and Julia Kirk in August. The Kirks, now in their 80s, built the bed and breakfast 26 years ago and turned it into a successful business. They have since moved to Green Valley.
“They’re lovely people,” said Keesee. “We’ve become friends, and they visit with us. We told them they could come any time to stay with us. This is their legacy. They built it.”
Keesee and Robles wanted a change from their busy Denver lives and relief from shoveling snow as they headed into retirement.
Keesee is a Registered Nurse and a naturopathic doctor with a master’s degree in oriental medicine and acupuncture. He spent 26 years with hospitals and with the Aurora, Colorado, school system for more than 13 years. He worked getting people tested for and vaccinated against COVID–19 and wanted to see the program through.
Robles joked, “He went into retirement to become a maid.”
Robles owned several restaurants, so he looked at lodging and hospitality as “second nature.”
They chose to look around Arizona, specifically the Tucson area for the various mountains that reminded them of home, but land prices were too high.
“At first we were looking for a house with a casita we could rent out for supplemental income,” said Robles.
They searched for four years to find the perfect fit. Then, on Realtor.com, they stumbled across the ad for the 13.6 acres in Pearce with an existing bed and breakfast. The couple, who have been together for 31 years, came in April, checked it out and immediately bought the property they decided to call DreamCatcher Inn at Chiricahua. The deal was closed in August, and now they are updating and painting the rooms and clearing brush and scrub trees to expose the mountain views.
“We thought wow, this is a great place because there are so many spots that tourists would like to see,” said Keesee. “The majority of our guests come to hike the Chiricahua National Monument.”
Thanks to the former owners, they are seeing returning guests from across the country.
“We have big shoes to fill,” noted Robles. “But, I was in hospitality for most of my career, so to me it is second nature.”
“It has nearly everything you could want,” said Keesee. “We’re close to places to go hiking, biking and people can visit the local vineyards. Hunters hoping to bag quail or coues deer also come to stay and take advantage of local outfitter John Hedges, who provides hunting tours.
A writer who wants peace and quiet selected the inn’s seclusion as the perfect spot for her, said Keesee. A well-known artist and potter has offered ancient pottery classes there.
They stay busy as the B&B continues to thrive. Rather than hire maids, Keesee and Robles do all the cleaning and maintenance of the rooms. They follow the COVID–19 deep-cleaning procedure after checkouts to make sure the rooms are safe for new lodgers.
Keesee manages the breakfast that is included in the room rate and Robles makes the three-course dinner. They decided to add dinner to the mix as all the restaurants are a long drive.
Robles noted 70%, maybe more, of their lodgers take the dinner option.
“We fixed dinner for a couple who just left. They wanted it the first night they stayed with us. I think they were checking to be sure I was a good cook,” Robles laughed. “They ended up eating here all three days.”
The biggest job was revealing the scenic views of the Chiricahua for their guests.
“We cleared out all the trees in the front and back because you couldn’t see the mountains,” said Robles.
“It’s been fun, but also challenging,” added Keesee.
They plan to add a hiking trail on the property and some flagstone to make the outdoors more inviting.
The rooms will have their names changed from places around the world to more appropriate Southwestern names and décor. Javelina, Gamble’s, Roadrunner, Mesquite and Hummingbird will be the new names.
The rooms all have a private entrance and bathroom, individual heating and cooling systems, free TV and Wi-Fi. Pets are allowed for an extra fee per night.
Art done and collected by Robles is featured in the guest rooms and the stunning great room where people can sit and enjoy the vistas, sunrises, sunsets and the wildlife.
The courtyard is a pleasant setting for a quiet evening, lusciously scented with massive rosemary bushes. Robles wants to do more landscaping in the beds surrounding the courtyard.
“This has become a gathering place for visitors in the evening,” said Robles.
So far, they have been successful in meeting expectations of their visitors, just as the Kirks did.
“The former owners had a five-star rating, and now we do, too,” said Keesee.Top of Form
Herald/Review Cochise Life December 10, 2021, Author: Shar Porier