RIDGWAY – What is the difference between a luxury limo service and a shuttle service?
For one thing, according to the Ridgway-based partners in the new TelluRides, with a limo license you can’t put your name and logo on the sides of your vans.
“Mountain Limo and Telluride Express (the two biggest local players in airport shuttle) can advertise on their vehicles,” said partner Tim Patterson, who with friends Don Guillory and Mike Ardoin, is entering his third year with TelluRides. “And they can do mixed parties.”
TelluRides doesn’t do mixed parties. “We are private transportation,” said Heather Patterson, Tim’s wife who, with good friend Victoria Megahee comprises the seven-days-per week reservations team. “We won’t mix parties on you. You have your own driver; you can stop whenever you want, at the liquor store, at the market, stop for lunch. We charge a flat fare for the vehicle from point A to point B.”
“We want to be competitive with the fares shuttles offer,” Patterson added. “Once you get four or five people the pricing structure becomes about the same.”
TelluRides currently has in its fleet two six-passenger Chevy Suburbans and two 15-passenger vans. (Inexplicably, one’s a Ford.)
“We don’t lease, we buy ‘em,” said Guillory, who grew up with Ardoin in Lake Charles, La., “the heart of Cajun country.” Guillory found Ridgway first, about 10 years ago, after an exhaustive search of western North America. (“You know what town came in second? Canmore, Alberta. Both have the magnificent views. But in Ridgway we get an extra month of summer.”) Ardoin followed soon after.
“We’re here to stay,” Guillory continued. “We’re a boutique transportation service. It’s not just a ride. We’d like to become friends for life. We treat our passengers to water and snacks. And local knowledge – we’ve got a captive audience! We’re like reps for the chamber of commerce. We’re not, but in effect we are.”
I noticed the plates on the shiny, black Suburban. They said: Livery. Ardoin, the less voluble Louisianan, chimed in, “That means you can haul everything from people to goats.”
Most of this crew met, interestingly, at the Franz Klammer Lodge in the Telluride Mountain Village. Ardoin and Tim Patterson and Bill Gunn, another of their drivers (the fifth driver is Matt McCannel, who works with Patterson at RIGS, the fly-fishing shop in Ridgway), were all “reception-hosts” at the FKL. Victoria Megahee was the lodge’s reservations manager. “They have an in-house fleet of about a dozen vans,” explained Megahee. “As perks for their owners, they provide transportation to and from the airport.”
“We stepped out from there,” Patterson said. “This is our third year but our first season as a fully-staffed operation, with website and reservations.”
“We want to be like a full-service gas station,” Guillory said. “Take care of everything for you.” The website says they’ll help with hotel reservations, golf tee times, rafting, fishing, dining.
“Not the L.A. ‘pimp’ experience,” Heather Patterson was quick to add. “Don’t put that in the story. But you know what I mean: the glitz and glam. I think the days of the stretch-limo shuttle are done. We offer a comfortable, clean, luxurious ride on the one and one-half hours from Montrose to Telluride. After your long plane ride, you want to be comfortable.”
“We’re the first contact” many people have with the area, Guillory said. “And the last. We truly love the area. And we communicate that.”