Craig and Lerrina Collins took over the operation of Elk Lake Resort in May of 2004. Originally from Oregon, they were drawn to the area by the unsurpassed beauty and 'retreat-like' seclusion of the Centennial Valley. Drawing on their experience as former motel owners in another unique and beautiful valley, Craig's experience and background in construction and maintenance, Lerrina's skills and training in business management and bookkeeping, and their common love of the great outdoors, the Collins felt a move to this western Montana Lodge fit the bill perfectly!
They often hear the question, "How did you find this place?" It all began when they left their webbed feet in Western Oregon's mud and moved to Oregon's beautiful Wallowa County. Here they began their lives as owners of a small motel in the heart of Enterprise, Oregon. They quickly found they enjoyed being self-employed and working together, and the lodging industry offered many opportunities to meet new friends. After owning the motel for several years, they sold it and moved their family back into the country - in fact, as far into the country as they could. Craig picked up his hammer and nails and went back to building things while Lerrina picked up her pencils and paper and went back to the office.
One day they stopped, took a good look around and said, "We never get to see each other!" So, the process began again. The big question was, "What can we do which will allow us to spend more time together - as a family - allow us to maximize the skills we have, and allow us to live where we like? After much discussion, they settled on a resort. The "right" resort in the "right" place might just fit the bill.
But where? Oregon seemed the logical place since most of their family lived in the state. But Lerrina was not moving back to the mud! A few months later it looked like they'd found the perfect place. The small resort sat close enough to the divide to take advantage of much of the eastern weather - i.e. more sun, less rain. Additionally, it was fairly centrally located between family and friends. Craig and Lerrina eagerly packed their bags, left the kids with grandparents, and traveled up the mountain to check it out.
Well, things only work out perfectly in fairy tales. But, what about that little resort she'd found on the Internet while researching resorts on Forest Service leases? It wasn't as big, but it sure looked interesting!
It only took one trip, and they fell in love. The beauty. The remoteness. The seclusion. The wildlife. The rustic decor and settings. Even the work which needed to be done was appealing. And so, contrary to their original plans; contrary to their families' wishes and desires; contrary to, maybe even their own logic, they made the move.
Elk Lake hasn't disappointed them one bit. Oh, the trip to town can get long, and the lack of close friends and family tugged at their hearts (especially at first), but Elk Lake has gotten under their skin. They can't imagine living anywhere else!