August 2009

5 Fun and Fantastic Resorts for Families

5 Fun and Fantastic Resorts for Families – as seen in Health News by Kayt Sukel.  We appreciate the mention of a family guest ranch in the story!

Trying to figure out where to take the family on your next trip?  Here are five of Travel Savvy Mom’s favorite family-oriented resorts.

Walt Disney World Resorts. Even though I harbor a bit of an allergy to pixie dust, I must admit that Disney knows how to do family travel. And they do it well. Whether you are staying at a Disney branded property in Florida, Hawaii, France or California—or taking one of their fantastic cruises—you can expect good food, attention to detail and plenty of activities that the whole family will love.

Dreams Resorts. Offering resorts in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, don’t call Dreams an all-inclusive—it doesn’t quite fit. Their unlimited luxury concept is all-inclusive the way it was meant to be. And quite a dream for families looking for a great beach vacation. You can eat and drink excellent fare (no starchy buffets or well drinks here!) when you want and how you want on the property without worrying about your kids losing paper wristbands. Dreams also allows kids under 12 to stay (and eat) for free. With beautiful grounds, gorgeous white sand beaches and fun amenities, it’s a place that the whole family will want to keep coming back to.

Vedema Resort. They said Santorini, arguably one of the most beautiful Greek Islands, wasn’t for families. They said there was nothing for you there. Obviously, they didn’t know about Vedema Resort. This beautiful property is modeled after a small, whitewashed Greek village. Surrounded by vineyards in the middle of the island, it offers only suite-type rooms and plenty of space for your kids to run around when they’re not splashing in the pool.

Vista Verde Guest Ranch. What family doesn’t want the opportunity to unleash their inner cowboy? There are plenty of dude ranches peppering the Colorado countryside, but Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs offers an all-inclusive deal and an activity list that will make your kids giddy with anticipation. Participate in a cattle drive one day and then do some rock climbing the next. And the kids-only programs will make you a little giddy, too.

Mohonk Mountain House. This incredible resort in New Pfalz, New York has remained a favorite for families for decades—and you’ll see why as soon as it comes into view. The spectacular (yet somewhat crazy) collection of buildings and grounds are second only to the service, food and amenities on offer. There is plenty here for the whole family whether you like to hike, bike, swim or play a little golf.

Losing Jake

Yesterday was a sad day at the ranch. We lost our friend Jake. For those of you who have played with and loved Jake over the years, you know what a special dog he was for all of us at VVR.
Jake started his career at Vista Verde years and years ago when he would meet our skiers and join our trips up the South Fork Trailhead. He lived with his “dad” down the road, but couldn’t resist an adventure when he saw the VVR suburbans pass his house in the winter. Not long after that, he began to follow the ski trips back to the ranch for a visit. We kept hauling Jake back home at the end of the day at that point. But, after a couple years of this, and having it turn into a summer and winter routine, we just stopped taking him home. This all seemed to work for Jake’s owner who, in turn, just began to come to the ranch to visit Jake. Over the past several years Jake had some really good friends and guardians. For a while there he was Austin’s shadow, then he began spending the night at Dace’s house and following the ranch hands around during the day. He was always up for a ride in the work truck, and even knew how to find his way in for a rest on the seats when no one was around. And Jake seemed to know what day of the week it was as he was always ready to catch a ride up to Steak Ride for a little adventure away from the ranch on Saturday nights. His forays into the backcountry became fewer and fewer this past year and he began to spend more time lounging around the ranch, but he was still always ready to jump in the pond for a stick. In fact, Dace had to limit the kids and their stick throwing because Jake wouldn’t know when to stop and then would be so stiff at night that he couldn’t move!
So, with great sadness the crew at the ranch said goodbye to Jake yesterday afternoon and we found a special place to bury him right here at VVR.

Ranch Divas

Ben is asking for his special imported water, Rob is complaining that his green room doesn’t have the right kinds of snacks and Dace is hiding from the cameras today….well, sort of. We are redoing some parts of our DVD and needed to get updated shots and some interviews to do so. In came our trusty friend Greg Poschman from Aspen to shoot some scenes. Ben spent this morning out at Homestead with me feeding him questions for his interview. Next up was Rob, seen here with Greg and his assistant David, getting ready for the wine tasting shoot. The guys will interview a couple guests later tonight, shoot a few more scenes and then head out tomorrow. Bring on the divas!

Rocking out in the Barn

The guys of DispatchThings were jamming in the barn at our All-inclusive Colorado resort this week. No, it wasn’t the staff orientation, or getting the new horses ready for our summer dude ranch season. It was a real life group of rock stars (although they may not like me referring to them that way!). Through a connection with one of the band members, we agreed to host the band Dispatch as they prepped for their upcoming tour, which begins at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver this Friday. The staff and horses have been able to enjoy listening to the group practice, and get to know the guys and their crew. As a thank you, and special treat for the staff, the band gave tickets to our crew so most of our crew will be able to attend one of the shows this weekend.

Not your typical combinationIn addition, the band members made a trip to the North Routt Charter School to meet with the kids, talk a bit about music and play a few songs for them. Maybe a few of these kids will pick up an instrument as a result of this inspiration! 

Are any of you diehard Dispatch fans? Check out their Facebook page for more info. And we’ll keep the rockin’ atmosphere going on at the barn long after they leave our luxury dude ranch.

Emotional Stimulus Winners posted…finally!

You may remember back in the spring we launched our Emotional Stimulus Plan. We picked the winners, and many have vacationed with us already this summer. We finally got all the videos loaded and some of the written winners up on the website. If you want some cheap entertainment, check it out on our ranch specials page. Some of them are pretty funny and some are very moving, but they are persuaded us to hand out special discounts to the many winners.

Horseback Riding Vacation

horseback riding vacationThere are so many great horseback riding vacations, but we tend to think we provide a really special opportunity for horse lovers and novices alike at Vista Verde Ranch.

We are gearing up for the summer season, and enjoying watching the new foals arrive.  Tele Tubby delivered this sweet filly over Memorial Day weekend.  She is full of spunk, bucking and romping around the stall, ready to get outside when the sun comes out. 

At Vista Verde, not only are we breeding horses to be used in our guest ranch riding program, but we are spending a lot of time and energy to train our horses for a top notch riding experience for our guests. 

Come ride with us this summer, and meet this cute filly!

For more information about a horse riding vacation, visit our horse program page. 

Country kids in the Big City

The other day Grahm, Jo, Jen and AJ headed down to the big city for a Rockies game. Wow, the traffic, the noises, the people, the price of hot dogs! Apparently they survived their city immersion project and made it back to the ranch in one piece. I thought it would be fun to share a picture of them at the game….yes, there is life away from Vista Verde, for some of our staff!

Steamboat Springs Resorts

Calves enjoying the grassSpring has come late to the Steamboat Springs resorts and much of Colorado.  As we anxiously await the snow to melt in the high country, and the ground to dry up, it’s fun to see the valleys fill up with green grass, and the baby calves dot the pastures. 

The other day, I had to stop and take a picture of these sweet little calves playing and lounging with their mamas as I drove to our family guest ranch.  It’s a treat to be able to have views like this and to watch the progress of spring. 

If you are looking to come to an all-inclusive Colorado resort, please consider Vista Verde Ranch.  The snow will be gone soon!

Getting out of the Office

I usually try to set aside some time on Thursday to blog. It’s a great day for me as I don’t have the kids with me and can catch up on the gossip at the ranch to get an idea for a blog topic, as well as have at least 20 minutes to sit down and write something, uninterrupted. But yesterday I was handed a hall pass from the office, and just never made it back in! Sorry to anyone who was actually trying to get a hold of me but I was having too much fun!

After having Cara and Beka help me all summer in the office, I felt like it was time to do something fun with them that didn’t involve a phone, computer, or inventory from the store. So we grabbed some horses and headed out to the South Fork Trail. It’s a bit of a long ride to try to fit in before lunch, but neither had been out there and I wanted to show them how beautiful it is. And we had a great time. It’s amazing how you can get to know someone in 2 hours when you’re sitting on a horse just chatting away. We had a great time revisiting the summer so far, finding out what their highlights have been, what their challenges have been and what they have taken away from this experience. If only I could have time to do something like this with each staff member and every guests. But, I suppose someone has to stick around to answer emails, phones and figure out how to fill up the ranch!

We got back from our ride just before lunch and I moved right into sitting down with one of our guests who is the editor of Southern Bride. She was asking me all sorts of questions about weddings at the ranch, something we don’t do a lot of but do have the ability to do now and then. It was fun to reminisce about some of the great weddings we’re had here (no, not just mine).

As soon as lunch wrapped up, I jumped into my funny yoga/cowgirl outfit and headed out with Kim and Brittany to our Wild yoga site. Less than 5 minutes into the ride we were turned around by a mega storm. After hiding out under the eaves of the barn for about 15 minutes and watching the torrential rain pour off the roof, we hopped back on and headed out in the beautiful, post-rain sunshine. Kelli led all of us through a very nice yoga practice in a field of amazing wildflowers while the aspen leaves fluttered above us and the clouds rolled through the blue sky. It was divine.

As soon as we returned to the ranch I ranch down to the Lodge, packed up my computer and zipped off to get the kids from daycare before they kicked them out on the street. All of us here at the ranch know we have a great job, but some days it feels like it’s a joke that we’re getting paid to do this! Yesterday was one of those for me. I hope you all had a great week, and will update you on more ranch details next Thursday…..

By the way, pictures to follow of the wild yoga when I get them loaded!