Welcome to the Frontier, a project that encompasses both the visual and physical articulation of a brand – placemaking. Read more on how we turned a run-down drive-in into a vibrant experiment showcasing art, architecture and hospitality.
The Frontier is a drive-in that opened in 1955 in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes. It operated for over 30 years and served people from all over the valley but was closed for about the same amount of time before it was given a second chance.
Bringing History Back To Life
In 2016, a friend saw The Frontier for sale while scouting a location for a film. Knowing Ellen Bruss and her husband’s passion for the arts, he suggested that they buy it and turn it into a cultural space. They, along with their kids, knew the concept was a unique opportunity and purchased the property. Since they’ve purchased the property, they restored the neon sign and original 40′ screen, added a lawn for movie viewing under the stars, outfitted the Frontier with state-of-the-art film screening equipment and luxurious overnight accommodations.
EBD took great care in renovating the original neon sign. It needed extensive cleaning, from both age and the birds who had made homes inside of it. The neon lettering was mostly broken and was recreated to honor its original history. Great lengths were taken to restore it to its original glory by keeping the neon colors as authentic as possible while preserving 65 years of patina.
Movies, Memories and More
As the sign restoration was in progress, a powerhouse team of creatives set out to bring the vision for Frontier to life. T38 Studio, a leading firm in sustainable architecture and contemporary design, created a vision for the site. Ron Rael, a design activist and leader in earthen architecture began experimenting with clay, straw and soil from the site to create the Skylos – 3D printed adobe structures for night sky viewing. We at EBD set out to build a brand that encompasses the history of the site alongside its bright future.
Branding A Reimagined Drive-Inn Experience
EBD was intent on both honoring the valley’s farming and ranching tradition while showcasing the movie and modern architecture components, so a ‘ranch meets movie’ brand was born. We channeled the dark night skies in the use of black, the earth tones of the land with a wheat color, and the neon of the sign in a palette that included bright colors. A star submark was created to represent the movie component.
The interiors were the final step. At Ellen Bruss Design, we are passionate about interior finishes and their ability to create a cohesive brand experience. We selected the Pendleton blankets, one-of-a-kind rugs, pops of color in pillows and all of the furniture to continue the brand across the yurts and steelmaster sheds. Each room is unique, providing a boutique experience for guests.
Digital marketing campaigns launched early this year and include SEO, geotargeting ads, PR, email campaign, social media and a new website. Bookings have seen an immediate increase as a result of the marketing activity.
Grab Your Friends And Plan A Trip
The Frontier Drive-Inn is now open for bookings year-round, with availability filling up quickly. Experience a true dark sky get-away and watch stars under the stars. You won’t regret it.
Work With Us
We would love to get to know you and help you with placemaking. Reach out to us at email@example.com so we can help you tell your story.