|Their Hill is a Healthy Success|
"Pat Corbett, Juanita Corbett"
Pat Corbett grew up in Swan River, Manitoba. After graduating from university he began to paint houses for a living. But it wasn't really what he wanted to do. When he married Juanita they decided to combine their two goals: Pat wanted to run a ski & dude ranch and Juanita wanted to operate a health resort. The result is "The Hills". A 400 acre ski, dude and health ranch, near 100 Mile House, B.C., where you can either go horse-back riding or lose a lot of extra pounds, or both.
"We sure picked the worst year to start our venture," Pat says. "1983 was a recession time and we really had to struggle to make it work. We came so close to going bust it wasn't funny. We finally sat down with our creditors and told them we were on the verge of bankruptcy, but we wanted to stick with it. With their cooperation we managed to pull it off."
From that shaky beginning, The Hills has become a haven for vacationers from Nova Scotia to New York, from Atlanta to L.A. from England to Germany-5,OOO of them a year, turning The Hills into a $3 million asset.
"We had thoughts of quitting when we were up to our waists in mud and alligators, but we had a deep conviction that we were on the right track and were doing the right thing at the right time. So we stuck it out."
The Hills offers just about anything a seeker of a healthy vacation could wish for: good, wholesome, calorie-counted food; sauna, conducted exercise, trail riding, hay rides and fireside singalongs, There are convention facilities and banquet accommodation for up to 250 people. All this in the rolling ranchlands in British Columbia's "True West" Cariboo.
"The Germans in particular love the western atmosphere. And this is the center of the world when it comes to horses and cowboys."
The Corbetts learned valuable lessons in their first years.
"Make sure you always count the costs of starting your own business. The costs include the financial costs, the costs of commitment to your idea. Be sure that you understand that if you are going to invest a lot of money in a venture you better be prepared to be very committed with your time to make sure that your idea works."
I asked Pat if the hospitality industry is going to grow in Canada, or have we peaked in the business? Where does the future lie?
"Tourism is growing at a phenomenal rate in this country. It's soon to become the number one employer. Believe it or not, tourism is already the number one industry in the world, the largest single employer of people. In Canada, because of its super natural wilderness character, we have an asset that the world is beginning to yearn and cry for. The hospitality and tourism industries in Canada will flourish far beyond anything in effect now."
Juanita Corbett concurs with her husband's assessment of the potential for growth in the industry, especially if it is coupled with a healthy lifestyle, the goal of so many people today.
"Most of today’s jobs are sit down. Everyone seems to have a more sedentary lifestyle compared to that of our parents. It's our own fault; we chose something that was slower, a little easier. Such a lifestyle has major costs: we get heavier; we lose our muscle tone and our energy level goes down. There are lots of costs for that type of living.
"And that's why many people are saying they want to feel good and look good when they are 60 years old. They don't want to be in a wheelchair or a rocking chair when they can walk, jog, ride, swim. They want to be able to do active things and feel good while doing them."
Clearly, Pat and Juanita Corbett seem to have a tiger by the tail in The Hills. They've combined a lifestyle they both enjoy with the enthusiasm necessary to make it attractive to others. Pat says tourism and hospitality are growth industries and Juanita says a healthy lifestyle is the goal of millions'. Perhaps there is a spot in there for you too! They are Canadian Achievers.
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