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Destination resort, formerly Sorensen’s, has new ownership

Danielle Starkey / Tahoe Daily Tribune

When Martin Sorensen immigrated to the United States in 1890, the 18-year-old Dane went to work for ranchers in the Carson Valley.

In 1916, he pulled together enough money to buy 169 acres of land near what is now the intersection of California State Route 88 and 89.

The cabins he built at what became Sorensen’s Resort, he rented for just 75 cents per night.

Much has happened at the property since then. It’s gone through a few management changes and the general store burned down and was rebuilt. Even the Disney company once took a sniff at purchasing it, but it remains what it’s always been: a scenic refuge for travelers, though now a one-night stay in a cabin will cost a little more than the 75 cents, prices range from $235 to $475 per night on weekends.

In August of 2019, the property changed hands again and its new name is Wylder Hotel Hope Valley.

The new owners are John Flannigan, founder and CEO of Wylder Hotels, and Chet Pipkin, who lives in Stateline, Nev., and is co-owner and partner of Wylder Hotel Hope Valley, as well as the founder and CEO of Belkin, a technology and consumer electronics business.

Flannigan, who has 25 years of management experience in the hotel industry, has a second property that was restored and reopened four years ago, Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island, a 100-year-old fishing lodge on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. 

Both men are outdoors enthusiasts who say they were drawn to the Hope Valley property for its access to year-round experiences in nature.

“The thing I love the most is there is the depth and breadth of experiences that keep unfolding there year around, where nature does her art,” said Pipkin. “I love hiking and being in the outdoors, and I love having an authentic, comfortable place to do that from.” 

The property has 30 cabins, all of which have either undergone or will undergo renovation. Guests can also stay at one of the seven yurts, which start at $200 per night; a 1951 Spartan trailer; or at the 14 tent and RV sites, start at $45 per night. 

“The general store has been redone and reopened, and though we have expanded the menu a little bit, we kept some of the time-cherished classics (such as the mixed berry cobbler and beef stew),” said Pipkin. 

The campground sits on forest service land, so they operate with a use permit.

This isn’t Pipkin’s first experience operating under a lease with the forest service; he is founder of a non-profit organization, Diabetic Youth Services, that operates Camp Conrad-Chinnock in the San Bernardino Forest in Southern California. The camp gives children with diabetes a chance to have a camping experience, he said.

Flannigan has managed a number of independent boutique hotels in his 25-year career. 

“I look for soulful properties with a history that can be reimagined,” Pipkin said. “We like to retain the character of a place, with tidbits of luxury here and there. I think this property is the ideal experience for these times. We’re in a remote area, there’s lots of space, so people can spend a lot of time outdoors, and it’s a destination that’s easy to get to.” 


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