June 2011

The Long Term Effects of Dude Ranching

Most people enter the dude ranching business because they love people, horses, the outdoors, or just the Western way of life. Most don’t know that entering the business will have a profound impact on their lives.

It starts with finding out that the people you serve daily are really amazing folks. Wait a sec, suddenly you are becoming friends with those very people you take in as guests. And the staff you hire to make the dude ranch operation a success? Hey, you kind of like them too!

Here’s where the warning comes for those who consider the dude ranch business. Now that your friends with these folks, life becomes more meaningful. You find your self engaged in their lives. I think of the folks who I’ve cried for, wished for, and had heart ache for- Don, Guy, and Carol come to mind immediately. But I also think about those who joys I’ve been able to share. The new grand babies, new careers, new family ventures, marriages, beating the odds, and all those success that come in life. Long after guests leave from their dude ranch vacation, we get to hear those updates and rejoice with our friends. The multiple invites to amazing places that all of us receive from grateful guests are overwhelming. I’ve whooped it up in Bermuda, Chelsea and Amanda just had a memorable dinner in London, Ben is looking forward to front row seats at a big game, Steve and Kelli had a heartwarming visit in Montana, and Dace has sat at too many dining room tables reconnecting with guests to mention. Mary, we will make it to Florida one day!

And then there’s the staff. Those pesky young people who you have to put up with in order to get the job done, right? Not at this Colorado dude ranch. I just reluctantly sent an RSVP to Gabriella to decline attending her wedding. We’ve been able to watch these great people go into the world and do powerful things, fall in love, start families, and continue to grow. The notes of thanks from past staff in all of our desk drawers keep each of us going on the tough days.

Yes, it’s a rough job to work at a guest ranch, but we’ll take it a little longer. We hope to have many more of you cross our cattle guard as guests the first time, and drive across it on your way home as friends and family.

Macaroni Kid- June 2011

Dude, Where’s My Ranch? By Joyce Shulman

The west is overflowing with guest ranches that range from uber-luxury to affordable. Here are a few to check out.

Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado is a small luxury ranch with beautiful facilities and accommodations. An extensive family program is coupled with an effort to maintain its down-to-earth, warm and friendly vibe. With only about 40 guests at a time, Vista Verde strives to provide a personal and tailored experience for its guests. With a new pool, a mountain setting and lots of other activities, like most guest ranches, the horses are at the center. “Everyone is matched with an appropriate horse for the week and for many that results in a sad farewell at the end of their stay,” says the Resort. We can imagine. The fun for the kids extends beyond the riding program, with treasure hunts, pow wows, campfires, boat races, gold panning and a ride on a fire truck to the local store for ice cream help to round out the week. Their teen program is a nod to the reality that teens need their own space to explore at their own pace. Of course, adventure for the entire family the experience together abounds, with family horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing and more. Vista Verde looks to us like one to check out.

The Vee Bar Guest and Dude ranch near Laramie, Wyoming is a family-friendly ranch that emphasizes horseback riding, but that is only the beginning of this Wyoming family vacation. The ranch activities include hiking, fishing, river tubing, trap shooting, camping, herding cattle, hayrides and more. A historical setting at the base of the Snowy Range Mountains, the Vee Bar ranch prides itself on providing True Western Hospitality. Vacation activities center around western horseback riding and the Vee Bar claims one of the best horseback riding programs to be found at any guest ranch and offers a range of riding experiences … from the meadows to riding across the top of Sheep Mountain in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Children six and older are eligible for horseback riding activities with parents or other children. All children can work on their horsemanship skills by competing in the gymkhana or moving cattle while receiving pointers and coaching from family-friendly wranglers.

Harmel’s Ranch Resort in Almont, Colorado delivers family fun at affordable prices in a superb location, near Crested Butte and Gunnison. This family dude ranch has been operating since 1958 and brings a touch of old world style to everything they do. No fancy-schmancy accommodations, just cozy cabins and tons of action and fun … horseback riding, fly-fishing, white water rafting, evening hay rides and more. Their overnight ride to high camp, junior wrangler program and weekly steak/crab cookout have gotten two thumbs up from loyal guests. Unlike many guest ranches, Harmel’s gives families the flexibility to arrive any day of the week and to stay as long as they wish. And, for those of us who hate to leave our dogs behind, Harmel’s is pet friendly (though there are breed restrictions, so be sure to check their website).

Health News- June 2011

5 Fun and Fantastic Resorts for Families – by Kayt Sukel

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 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.