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Mike Claney.

STARGAZING AT SILVER CREEK

BY DAY, MIKE CLANEY CHECKS ON ADVANCE WINTER BOOKINGS, tackles the challenge of finding staff for the upcoming ski season and keeps his eye on what his lodging-resort competition is up to.

By night, he turns to the stars.

The owner and president of Silver Creek Lodging in Grand County is an amateur astronomer who has taken his hobby from his private deck to a tranquil, dark site on the lodging grounds where once a week he shares his passion for stargazing with guests.

"I've been fascinated with stars since I was a kid," said Claney. "When I was three years old, my grandparents purchased a series of books from Life magazine that were about different subjects and the one on stars really got my interest. Over the years, I would take the charts out, set them up and find all the constellations in the sky, pretty much doing it on my own."

Today he hauls the charts, plus 20 plastic lounge chairs to a remote site, grabs his green laser pointer and stargazes with guests of his 558-unit resort.

"Some groups ask a lot of questions, while others are laid back, just happy to be lounging there in the dark," said Claney. "I cover 15 to 20 constellations and major stars in the sky. You could stargaze all year if you want to brave a November night."

The stargazing sessions were an outgrowth of both brainstorming sessions with Silver Creek's marketing staff and Claney's own savvy in the resort industry -- a career dating to 1982 when the native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, began selling condominiums in Crested Butte for a Dallas company.

"My mom worked for the developer, and I worked side by side with her until she died two years later," said Claney. "I feel extremely fortunate that I was able to work that closely with her."

Other career moves led Claney to Ridgefield, Vt., where he served as director of sales for the Stockton Hilton. But Colorado beckoned. In 1990 he returned to manage Silver Creek Lodging and in 1998 spun it off into his own company.

"I love Colorado, the wonderful scenery, the people, and the great opportunities that are here," said Claney. "Even these stargazing nights, some of the young kids are fascinated by what you can see with the naked eye in the dark skies up here. I like sharing this knowledge, as maybe this is the way to motivate people, get them to read more about it, ask a lot of questions and, like me, end up with a lifelong fascination with the stars."
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Title Annotation:Silver Creek Lodging
Author:BRONIKOWSKI, LYNN
Publication:ColoradoBiz
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:435
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