Meadow Lake Ranch is a bed and breakfast, dude ranch, and wedding and event venue in Sand Springs. Guests have access to hiking, archery, horseback riding, fishing and more. Meadow Lake Ranch can accommodate for events with 50 to 500 people. We spoke with the owners, Tom and Sue Lynn Warren, to learn more about their business.
How long have you been small business owners?
We bought the ranch in 1999 with the idea of retiring there. The bed and breakfast was an afterthought. There was no master plan. The business grew organically in direct response to the needs and requests of our guests. When guests requested trail riding, we added a string of horses and the Dude Ranch was born. We had several guests ask about weddings, so we built the Lakeside Lodge and eventually our new larger wedding and event center. Corporate events were a natural fit: reasonably priced, close to Tulsa, wide open spaces and fun activities.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Anticipate, communicate and engage. We’ve learned to anticipate the needs of our guests and clients. We keep open lines of communication from the initial phone call; through tours; and before, during and after every event. By engaging with our guests and clients, we can discover not just the date and time of an event, but the overall purpose. When we know what our clients want to achieve with a particular event, we can design and guide them to their goal. We want each and every guest or client to feel sure that secretly they are our favorite. We still hear from guests who stayed here 10 to 15 years ago. They call, write or send pictures of what’s going on in their lives just to stay in touch.
What is the farthest a guest has traveled to stay at Meadow Lake Ranch?
We have hosted guests from all 50 states and 43 countries. Our most famous guest was the legendary Sir Paul McCartney, who stayed and played with us on his 66th birthday re-trace of Route 66. We’ve also had guests from Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Japan, China and, my favorite, Lichtenstein, where you can throw a rock from one side of the country to the other. Now that I think about it, based on the percentage of population, Lichtenstein may be our leading visitor.
How has your business evolved since you began?
We are very responsive to the needs and requests of our guests. Which is why we are actually four businesses in one (bed and breakfast, dude ranch, weddings and events). Having four businesses on the same property definitely has its share of challenges, but there is enormous upside potential as well. For instance, we have cross-marketing opportunities. Our wedding guests come back for the B&B, our B&B guests come back next year for an expanded dude ranch experience, corporate clients are seeded into our guest base and often come back (with a few hundred of their fellow employees) to enjoy a company picnic or other corporate event. Basically, we just listen to our guests to find out where they want us to go next. Big corporations move through time and space like aircraft carriers, steady and in a straight line. Change in direction is slow and methodical. Meadow Lake Ranch is a little guy, we are the epitome of a small business, and we are more like a speed boat, able to dart left or right as needed. We can easily change direction as quickly as our guests need it.
What is the most important part of customer service?
Have a service heart. Give guests more than just a cozy cabin, great breakfast and groomed hiking trails. Those are great, but what people really want is to be connected to a time, a place, other people or events. They want memories. We have all been given a limited supply of 24- hour days, and none of us will remember every moment of every day, but all of us remember, and cherish, the special moments of special days. Meadow Lake Ranch is a special place filled with magical memories for countless families. We’re very proud of that.
What is your favorite spot on the ranch?
There are a lot of gorgeous views to choose from. The Lakeside Patio features a view of Big Bass Lake with an island in the middle and a statue of Te Ata, the Chickasaw Story Teller. The Bluff-Top Cabin features several of our private lakes in the foreground and a magnificent view of downtown Tulsa on the near horizon. The Lakeside Log Cabins have private, shaded, close-up views of spring-fed lakes and wildlife. But I’d have to say, [our] favorite spot is in the center of the ranch in the tall grass prairie pasture, lying flat and looking up at the wispy clouds in our ever-changing Oklahoma sky.