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Ten Minutes With Jim Manley

A financier-rancher



Jim Manley grew up one of nine children in Fair Haven, New Jersey. After getting a business degree from Arizona State University, he worked in financial sales, which morphed into a career on Wall Street. In 1990, he and his wife Marybeth settled in Wilton to raise their four children. Five years later, Manley launched Atlantic Pacific Capital, a successful hedge fund. Manley always dreamed of owning a ranch and finally, in 2007, after a search that lasted 20 years, he found one.

Why a ranch?  When I was a kid, I had a longing for the West. I watched westerns on TV and imagined myself as a cowboy, riding a horse in a wide-open landscape with mountains in the background. 

How long did it take to fulfill your dream? It was more of an obsession than a dream. I talked about it constantly so it became a family joke—no one thought I would ever do it. I saw over a hundred ranches in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Northern California, and British Columbia. I wanted something spectacular with a river and snow-capped mountains in the distance. After 20 years of looking I was ready to give up, but the day I saw the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana, I bought it. It was everything I’d ever wanted.

How did your family react?  With stunned disbelief. But when they saw it, they loved it too. Initially, it was just a place we went to with friends and family, but then we renovated and expanded it, and now the ranch is open year-round for guests. It’s rustic but sophisticated. It feels like a home, not a resort.

But it’s a “home” with a Relais & Chateau rating that attracts A-list celebrities, and it’s the only five-star ranch in the world. True. [He blushes.]

Who goes to stay there?  In the summer, it’s about 60-percent families, and lots of couples. Someone might buy it out for a birthday, a corporate retreat, or a wedding. Our daughter Liz got married there last year, and we had a three-day event, including a rodeo and all kinds of activities. It was like a wedding and family reunion all rolled into one. 

What’s your favorite time of year at the ranch, and why?  It’s probably the winter because I like to cross-country ski. You can also skate, snowshoe, and snowmobile. I like the fall, too, when the aspens are changing. I’ve been out there every month of the year and never not had a good time. There’s lots to do: archery, sporting clays, skeet shooting, fishing, riding, biking, rafting, and kayaking down the creek. I’ve done everything. There’s also a movie theater, bowling alley, pool table, karaoke, and a spa.  

It sounds idyllic. Do you think you’ll retire there?  I don’t think I’d like to live there year-round because it wouldn’t feel as special as when I visit. I decompress when I get there. I try not to answer any email or do any business. The ranch feels like a step back in time. We built everything new to look old. You truly feel removed from the busy life back east. But I do love Connecticut and our home and property here. 

What’s your personal credo?   Never give up on your dream.

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