This $1,000-a-year prepper timeshare says it has seen 'huge surge in interest' due to coronavirus - see inside
REUTERS/Adria Malcolm TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fortitude Ranch, Colorado.
- Fortitude Ranch sells disaster preparedness like a vacation timeshare.
- Founder Drew Miller says that the panic around coronavirus has led to a "huge surge in interest" in the business's offerings.
- The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has killed 2,800 people and infected more than 82,000 according to recent totals.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
In the new disaster economy, a safe place to go when society breaks down is now a must-have commodity.
Fortitude Ranch, with locations in Colorado and West Virginia, might be the answer for someone worried about a potential doomsday, but who doesn't want to dedicate their entire life to prepping for the end of days.
The death toll of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19 that originated in Wuhan, China, is now more than 2,800, and the virus has infected more than 82,000 people. On January 30, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a global health emergency. The virus has disrupted travel worldwide, leading to flight cancellations, quarantines, and other breakdowns in movement.
Fortitude Ranch is described on its website as "a survival community equipped to survive any type of disaster and long-term loss of law and order." It's attractive to preppers and the prepper adjacent because it "doubles as a recreation and vacation facility as well as a survival retreat." Founder Drew Miller estimates that he's seen as much as a 10 times increase in interest.
Take a look at what the ranch offers.
The ranch currently has locations in Colorado and West Virginia, with plans to add more.
Founder Drew Miller told Business Insider that the ranch has recently had a "huge surge in interest," selling out the Colorado location and nearly selling out West Virginia.
Demand is so great that people are asking about when the currently under construction Nevada and Wisconsin locations will be available, and the ranch is scrambling to raise capital and expand, according to Miller.
Fortitude Ranch's pitch is that for about $1,000 per person per year, customers can vacation in any of its locations, and in case of an emergency that leads to societal breakdown, they can hunker down in whatever location is closest.
Fortitude Ranch is staffed by several former military members who appear to take prepping very seriously. "Some of our staff, in keeping with the prepper community ethos of 'don't tell anyone you're a prepper' do not list their names on our website."
The ranch also markets based on the skills of its members: "Many of our members have ideal survival skills such as MDs and pharmacists. They are not listed here, and we never disclose our member's names!"
In making the case for prepping as a service, the company estimates that 95% (or more) of people not prepared will attack and steal from people with supplies. Fortitude Ranch offers a "very well defended compound," so that "marauders will go elsewhere."
"Most of our members are not traditional preppers, but business professionals, retired military and law enforcement, people who recognize the need to get out of the city and suburbs" when things get bad, Miller told Business Insider. "It is really the 'collapse', the halt in economic activity and loss of law and order that is the biggest threat," and members don't want to be left managing on their own.
Vacation activities are nearly indistinguishable from prepping, including hunting and shooting, lessons on survival skills and farming, and campfires.
Every location has horses, livestock, water stores, arms, and food stockpiles,
It also has stores of protective masks and gloves, which are reportedly selling out or going for inflated prices in areas affected by COVID-19.
The log cabins and main wooden lodge are also for recreational use. Vacationers stay in cabins, and the "resort-like" lodge can become a community center in case of disaster.
The actual shelters are only used for storage until they're needed. Four feet underground, metal shelters provide protection against weapons and nuclear radiation, guarded by concrete walls and armed guards.
Miller told Business Insider that he rejects deep underground shelters for two reasons. "We do not want to share air supply like you must in a deep shelter — don't want a virus to spread." Second, he said that shallow shelters allow members to get to defensive wall positions within a minute.
The treehouse is a place for kids on vacation, but it was designed to double as a guard tower in a disaster. "All members serve guard duty, have AR-15 or 12 gauge shotgun," Miller told Business Insider.
The spread of a disease like COVID-19 seems to be long-awaited around Fortitude Ranch. In 2016, Miller wrote an article for The American Interest called "The Age of Designer Plagues," in which he described a possibly inevitable "Age of Bioengineered Viral Pandemics and Collapse" on the horizon.
Miller says that the ranch hopes to expand to more locations as more people worry about pandemics and the decline of social order.
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