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ARCHIVED  March 1, 1997

Raindrop owner used inheritance to start B&B

BELLVUE – Moments after stepping into the spacious dining room of the Raindrop Bed and Breakfast, the peacefulness of the place seeps into the bones and mellows the mind.Hardwood floors, high-raftered ceilings, dozens of plants and plenty of light create a gracious and comfortable atmosphere where overnight guests and day visitors can relax, reflect and rejuvenate.
Owner Tara Parr converted her passive-solar home at 6901 McMurray into a bed and breakfast six years ago and since has single-handedly fed and pampered guests weekly. An artist, chef and certified massage therapist, she puts her talents to use to create an ideal retreat for work and play.
“When I first saw this place, I thought, this is not a place to keep to yourself,” she said. “I originally envisioned it as a school of some sort. Then I had the idea for a retreat and bed and breakfast.”
Parr spent $10,000 she’d inherited to convert her Bellvue home into a four-bedroom, two-bathroom retreat.
“I was really averse to borrowing money,” she said. “I knew no one would want to lend me any in the first place, and I didn’t want to be in debt.”
She also shied away from B&B how-to manuals and did much of the renovation herself.
“I asked myself what would I want in a bed & breakfast instead of what people would expect,” she said. “The setting was important to me, and I didn’t want it so big that I’d have to hire a staff and make it too official. I wanted to keep it personally manageable.”
The Raindrop sits behind a bluff at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon 20 minutes northwest of Fort Collins. It accommodates six guests overnight. Group retreats are generally limited to 10, although as many as 25 are welcome for day-long gatherings. And Parr can arrange for weddings and parties with as many as 50 guests.
Hidden from view on a 29-acre parcel of land, the location affords a great deal of privacy. The house is modest in size and appearance and, were it not for a small sign indicating the entrance, might go completely unnoticed.
Parr treasures the spirituality and history of the area, which she said is documented as a sacred, Native American gathering place, and she encourages guests to take advantage of hiking trails nearby.
“The natural setting is the home’s strongest feature,” she said. “I like the fact that people come to see a place I think is incredible, that they have the experience and take it back with them.”
Parr’s idea was to create an environment that would complement her massage work.
“By itself, a massage is just a band-aid,” she said. “Bringing it all together in this relaxing place works well.”
A massage costs extra, but room rates of $95 for the large room and $75 for smaller rooms do include a hearty breakfast. Guests can belly up to the big dining-room table for German pancakes made with fresh eggs, hash brown veggies straight from the garden and chiles rellenos – a few of Parr’s specialties.
Perhaps “elegant” doesn’t describe the Raindrop. “Rustic” is more accurate. But the eclectic decor has spunk, and there is sophistication and environmental awareness evident in the ergonomic floor chairs and greenhouse, not to mention the hot tub.
One of the home’s most outstanding features is the artwork decorating every room. Much of it is Parr’s own sculpture. She trained at the Maryland Institute and received her master’s degree in art from Colorado State University.
Works by 10 or so other artists, mostly local, are also displayed, and while price tags aren’t evident, Parr said, as the old adage goes, “Everything is for sale.”
Parr has observed that people who enjoy the Raindrop are people like herself – people who see quiet time as valuable and nature as supportive.
Victoria Keller, director of the Office of Community Service at Colorado State University, has enjoyed the Raindrop on several occasions. She has held her office retreat there for three years running.
“Even though we generally have 12 to 15 staff members and students in the group, we choose the Raindrop over a place with more room because of the location,” Keller said. “It’s an ideal setting, and the design and layout of the house are incredibly conducive to meetings. I find the ambiance both stimulating and soothing, a combination that really helps people get into the retreat mode.”
“Tara is gifted for the work she’s in,” Keller added. “She’s a perceptive host.”
Keller said she hopes to spend a weekend at the Raindrop with her husband and young children.
“There’s something there – a combination of features – I’d like to be around with my family,” she said.
Parr says enthusiastic praise from guests such as Keller is her primary form of advertising.
Each year, she spends a certain amount to market her business, and a few years ago, when she realized she needed more visibility, she spent more for advertising in books and on the Internet. But she relies heavily on word of mouth.
“It’s the best advertising you can get,” she said.
Business is steady throughout the year, and heaviest in summer, Parr said. However, good business and hefty profits don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
“Virtually everything I make goes back into the business. I end up being very tied down here because there’s always something to take care of,” she said.
Parr meets with other B&B owners regularly, and there is a general consensus among them: You don’t get into this business to make money.
“People do this because they like being their own boss, they like being around people or they enjoy creating a certain environment,” she said. “I say, do what makes you feel good. The study of art taught me that creativity is the relationship you have with what you’re doing. I try to keep that in mind as a host and keep spontaneity in everything I do here.”
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BELLVUE – Moments after stepping into the spacious dining room of the Raindrop Bed and Breakfast, the peacefulness of the place seeps into the bones and mellows the mind.Hardwood floors, high-raftered ceilings, dozens of plants and plenty of light create a gracious and comfortable atmosphere where overnight guests and day visitors can relax, reflect and rejuvenate.
Owner Tara Parr converted her passive-solar home at 6901 McMurray into a bed and breakfast six years ago and since has single-handedly fed and pampered guests weekly. An artist, chef and certified massage therapist, she puts her talents to use to create an ideal…

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