Sunflower Inn's co-owner Gregg Stucki (right), innkeeper Kathleen Lund and groundskeeper Levi Officer believe they have succeeded in creating an oasis in the desert. [Photo by Travis Holtby / Moab Sun News]

Gregg Stucki has seen Moab grow up.

When he moved to the Moab-area as a teenager in 1976, it was a relatively unknown mining town. Now it’s a world famous adventure destination, said Stucki, the co-owner and manager of the Sunflower Hill Inn.

“When I told my friends I was moving to Moab, none of my friends knew where Moab was,” he said. “It’s pretty remarkable the changes that Moab has gone through. Moab has become known the world over.”

And Sunflower Hill Inn has been here for much of that transformation.

Stucki’s parents, Richard and Marjorie Stucki, opened the Inn in 1989.

A few years earlier they had opened a bakery and deli in the building that now houses the Slickrock Café. Meanwhile, Brent Stucki, Gregg Stucki’s older brother, had bought a farmhouse that was over 100 years old in the northeast end of town and began to rent out some of the rooms as apartments. Robyn Officer, Gregg Stucki’s older sister, bought the house next door.

After a few years the family decided to combine their talents. They brought the bakery to the house and create a bed-and-breakfast. It began with five guest rooms with shared bathrooms.

The Sunflower Hill Inn and another bed-and-breakfast that opened that same year. These were the first bed-and-breakfasts in Moab, Stucki said.

“The idea of B&Bs was new to Moab,” he said.

By 1996 Stucki’s parents were looking to retire and wanted to find a family member to take over the operations of the business. This worked out perfectly for Stucki, who was tired of his job at a garage door company in Salt Lake and wanted to bring his family to where he and his wife lived as teenagers.

“This was a nice move,” Stucki said. “Coming to Moab was a good family move. We loved raising our family in Moab.”

Though Stucki took over much of the management side of the business, he made sure to keep the family involved.

“Almost every member of my family has been involved,” he said.

That has included most of Stucki and his wife’s nine children, as well as his extended family of eight brothers and sisters.

“We are a family run business,” agreed Levi Officer, Stucki’s nephew who began mowing the lawns at the Inn when he was 14 and who now works as the groundskeeper. Officer also does all the photography for the Inn’s website.

The Inn has grown and changed since Stucki has taken over the Inn.

The adjacent property was incorporated into the grounds. The Inn now boasts 12 rooms in two houses, as well as gardens and a new swimming pool.

Room prices range between $165-$235 a night in-season, depending on the room.

Sunflower Hill Inn can now play host to around 28 guests at a time, making it about twice the size of other bed-and-breakfasts in Moab.

“We have a little oasis here in the desert,” Officer said.

The food that the Sunflower Hill Inn’s staff makes from scratch every morning.

“Everything is homemade. We have cookies in the afternoon. We have three kinds of bread,” Stucki said. “We don’t do a lot of sweets. We try to do things that are more healthful. A lot of our (guests) are pretty health conscious.”

Many of the recipes – like the muffins, the honey almond granola and the Irish oatmeal – are old family favorites.

Even with the busy schedule that Stucki has managing the Sunflower Hill Inn, he still believes that it is important to give back to the community. Because of that belief he has spent the last 16 years on the Moab City Council.

“I enjoy being involved. I’ve enjoyed seeing the progress the city has made since I’ve been here,” he said. “(But) raising a family, having a demanding business, and being on the city council – that’s a full platter!”

And though Stucki said that after this term he will no longer run for the city council, he has no intention of retiring from the bed-and-breakfast.

“The best part about this is to be in a profession where 99-percent of the time it’s overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “We get the cream of the tourist crop. There are guests that have been coming to the Inn for longer than I have been here. When they come it’s like a big family reunion.”

“I’ve made some really good friends here,” said Kathleen Lund, an innkeeper at Sunflower Hill.

Those friends, new and old, are what Stucki and his staff love most about their jobs, and what they believe creates the atmosphere that keeps people coming back.

“I’d like to think part of it’s the environment,” Stucki said. “The staff is so friendly and so helpful that people respond well.”