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Published on : Tuesday, December 1, 2015
When you’re the No. 1 Resort in the United States and the No. 1 Resort in the West (Conde Nast Traveler 2015 Readers’ Choice Award), you rely on the industry’s leading mobile expert to solve cellular coverage problems. That’s why The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo., called upon the specialists at RoamingAround to bring its RoamBOOST Distributed Antenna System (DAS) to their rescue.
With accommodations situated in remote areas spanning six miles across high mountain ranges and deep valleys, this Preferred Hotel & Resorts LEGEND collection property struggled with receiving cellular reception from all major carriers, primarily Verizon. Working side-by-side with property owner White Lodging Services Corp., the RoamBOOST team not only installed its scalable DAS, but they worked with local contractors to draw electrical power from the highway and install a 70-foot tower to finally tap the Verizon signal. The result is instant and widespread cellular connectivity across the expansive resort footprint, including all outdoor spaces where service was lacking (hiking trails, horse trails, stables and riding area, gun range, mountain tops, valleys, river picnic areas, and ATV terrain), with service ultimately spanning to improve reception for indoor areas (main lodge, guest cabins, yurts, spa, meeting areas, horse arena, and employee apartments).
The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, a luxury dude ranch situated on 30,000 acres of Rocky Mountain wilderness, embodies the true spirit of the West. While the rustic resort enables its guests to reconnect with nature and indulge in unlimited adventure, allowing guests to connect with major cellular carriers was problematic. The regional wireless company could only provide roaming access to AT&T and T-Mobile; but the Verizon signal could not penetrate the remoteness of the Ranch. Property owners needed to find a way to boost signal strength so that existing and prospective guests—especially big corporate groups interested in booking who required Verizon service—would be accommodated.
“When you operate a luxury lodge in the ‘Wild Wild West,’ every day you face new obstacles to overcome; after all, we’re in the middle of nowhere,” said Michael Williams, The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “The lack of Verizon service was a dis-satisfier to guests and a nuisance to staff—especially since Verizon is used by nearly two-thirds of the country. If you didn’t have AT&T or T-Mobile, you couldn’t get reception until you drove 20 miles away to town. To make calls, people either had to use our landlines or bring WiFi phones. Some event planners even went so far as to equip their groups with burner phones so their people could get connected.”
With a successful track record of using the RoamBOOST DAS from RoamingAround at other White Lodging owned and operated properties, it was suggested to Williams that he call on Michael Garvin, RoamingAround founder and CEO, to visit the property and propose a plan. The system has the capacity to increase signal strength in any venue—indoors and outdoors—no matter what the area is. This cellular enhancement solution involves the deployment and installation of the DAS hardware and also encompasses a set of sophisticated tools, site surveys, and testing techniques. Post-installation, RoamBOOST technicians continue to actively monitor and adjust settings to guarantee that guests and the facility team stay connected to the property’s cellular network.
After completing an initial property inspection, the RoamBOOST team had an engineering theory: by installing a donor antenna on the rooftop of the property’s indoor arena, it could capture the evasive Verizon signal over the hill and down to the cabins in the valley below. Using a pallet lifter, the donor antenna was hoisted 60-feet into the air; attached to the donor antenna was a 75-foot coaxial cable plugged into a portable generator because electricity was nonexistent. A RoamBOOST technician (also on the pallet lifter) pointed the antenna in the proper direction while another technician drove to the outskirts of the Ranch (approximately 3 miles away) to test the signal and place a Verizon call.
The landscape still proved to be RoamBOOST’s biggest challenge yet. The signal the donor antenna was generating traveled right over top of the cabins and the surrounding stables and riding areas. To make this first donor antenna a permanent fixture, technicians installed 15 electric poles to bring power from the highway to the first donor site. This involved installing a 70-foot pole to mount the donor antenna. Hundreds of feet of trenches were dug to bury the cables, most of which was performed under high-wind conditions and across extremely rugged territory. With the frigid winter approaching, RoamBOOST provided a temporary solution for service until the end of the season – while they went to work to find a way to achieve long-term, full coverage for all outdoor areas of the massive property.
“We wanted a permanent solution so badly,” Williams said, “and we had complete confidence that Mike Garvin and his team would get it done.”
In the Spring, the RoamBOOST team returned to The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch with a new vision. This time it involved installing a second donor antenna at Falcon’s Peak Overlook (1,000 square feet in altitude and about 1.5 miles away) which would provide a clear line-of-sight to the original donor antenna atop the indoor arena. The plan was to transmit the Verizon from the first donor antenna to the second antenna (bypassing a hill that was causing interference) and then send the signal to the areas below. Once installed, the team flipped the switch, and for the first time ever, Verizon calls and texts were flying out of the valley for about 75% of the ranch. Unfortunately, the Artist Camp and the riverfront area still could not receive the Verizon signal.
“At almost 100% of their expense during the reevaluation process, the RoamBOOST team came back to us with a third and final solution,” Williams said. “Despite some skepticism, a third donor antenna was installed approximately 250 yards downhill from Falcons Peak Overlook to direct the signal to the areas still not receiving reception. The plan worked perfectly.”
Today 19,500 acres of land—comprised of The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch (6,500 acres) and the adjoining TZ Ranch (13,000 acres)—has connectivity to the major cellular carriers thanks to RoamBOOST.
“What started as a simple installation turned out to be a three-phase plan and a true labor of love, but thanks to the commitment and creativity of RoamingAround and the entire RoamBOOST team, The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch no longer has issues with cellular reception,” Williams said. “Today, people with Verizon, as well as Sprint, can instantly connect. The irritation is gone and we don’t talk about it any longer. Mike Garvin had his back against the wall, and he wouldn’t quit until he and his team found a solution. He’s a great guy with an unwavering commitment to success and customer satisfaction. Mike continues to check in with us to make sure everything is working and that we are still happy with their service. I would definitely recommend RoamBOOST to any property experiencing cellular issues.”
This impressive and innovative installation was completed in September 2015. Through this project, RoamingAround has proven that no job is too big for RoamBOOST.
“If you present us with a problem, we will do whatever it takes to come up with a solution,” said Michael Garvin, RoamingAround Founder and CEO. “The RoamBOOST installation at The Lodge and Spa at Brush Creek Ranch was undoubtedly the biggest challenge we have ever faced, but it resulted in the biggest reward.”