Archive for April, 2014
Date: April 30th, 2014
It’s been a while since I did a spotlight on one of our staff, and with a handful of staff stepping up into manager roles this spring, I thought it would be perfect to highlight some of these great folks. This week, meet Malori Plush.
Many of you who have been at the ranch in the past couple years have already met Malori. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, CO, Malori joined us back in 2012 as a server in the dining room. She has since helped out in many areas around the ranch before stepping into the role of Front Desk Manager. She is taking on overseeing all the Front Office staff, operations as well as being the main gal in charge of reservations. So, chances are that if you call the ranch, you’ll talk to her!
Malori graduated from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs with a Bachelor of Science in Business with an emphasis in International Business, and a minor in Spanish.
Before coming to Vista Verde she worked as an Economic Development Intern at the Mayor’s Office in Colorado Springs. She did lots of national research on small business sustainability and filled in as the Mayor’s secretary. Just before her internship ended the Waldo Canyon Fire started in Colorado Springs, she was given the hefty role of managing the 5 City Twitter accounts (Mayor, Sheriff, Fire Dept. etc.) and collect volunteer hours for FEMA. After the fire ended, she directly assisted the City Event Planner to coordinate the Waldo Canyon Fire Heroes Celebration (over 400 attendees). That may have been what peaked her interest in event planning, which is on her radar to pursue as she moves forward in life.
It seems to be a combination of things that led Malori to Vista Verde. In her words, “learning about small business sustainability made me want to work for a small business, I enjoy coordinating and working with other people, and I love the mountains.”
Malori has a pretty good case of “wanderlust” – she has traveled to 8 different countries so far (Morocco, Switzerland, Thailand…), and many more to go. She loves fly fishing, country two step and swing dancing, hiking, volleyball, sushi and micro brews.
We hope you get the chance to meet Malori this summer. She’s a great part of our team, and we’re excited to help her grow in her new role!
Date: April 28th, 2014
Dream Destination Honeymoon- 101
Published on April 3, 2014 by Terri DeFabis
Post a picture of your dream destination honeymoon location on your bathroom mirror or even in your work cubicle, and you may be less tempted to spend your pocket change on those little extras that provide instant gratification.
Any trip as newlyweds, but especially a Dream Destination Honeymoon, should be considered a short-term financial goal. Here are some steps to take when saving for your blissful getaway: Read more
Date: April 16th, 2014
Why every family needs a dude ranch vacation
By Susan Tucker
My family and I recently enjoyed an amazing few days away just outside of Steamboat Springs in Colorado at the Vista Verde Guest Ranch, and while there I discovered why a dude ranch vacation is the ultimate family vacation. You too can experience life like a cowboy this summer by taking a family vacation at a working, dude or luxury ranch, so you can disconnect, reconnect and connect with nature.
Here are my top reasons why a dude ranch family vacation is a must and what type could be best for yours.
Date: April 14th, 2014
I giggled a bit at the title of this blog post. If anyone could truly answer that, they’d be worth a lot. Or at least they’d have a lot of dude ranchers for friends. Every dude ranch owner that I know struggles with this- finding great horses for their guests to enjoy. You see, every year we have to retire some horses as they can’t keep going at the pace we go at in the mountains and need a little more leisurely lifestyle. Then, there are the horses that just don’t cut it. They might be great horses, but they are horses who need a single owner and not different riders each week. When all is said and done, we end up needing new horses every year. And, there lies the challenge.
Buying horses is an art. First you have to consider age and training. Some really young horses are calm and collected, but many are still a little “green” as we call them. For our guests, we want horses who are trustworthy and safe first. But, we don’t want horses that are too old as we need them to be able to handle the many miles we put on out on the trail. We pride ourselves in taking care of our horses with healthy feed, monitoring them for needed rest, proper hoof care and vet care. But, even with all that, our horses need to be like a strong athlete and able to perform to the task. Next up is size and confirmation. Put into car terms, if they are built well, they will run longer and with fewer trips to the mechanic’s shop. Finally, how are they trained, and what is their temperament? Are they kind? Are they responsive? Do they have enough good training to be soft, supple and easy to cue? Will they overreact to a scary situation or stay cool and calm?
Ok, so we’ve laid out the criteria, but it’s not like there is a superstore of horses out there and you just go and pick them out. We go to sales, we watch the classifieds, we spread the word among our horse friends, and then we drive around and try out a lot of frogs before we find our princes. And, once we find them, we have to bring them back to the ranch and get to know them. Sometimes we find out that our prince wasn’t as much of a prince as we thought on first glance….so then we have to find a better fit for them with someone else.
All said, it’s a process that requires long hours in the truck, a critical eye and a sense of understanding a horse’s heart. Ben, Nate and Mandy are spending their spring doing just this. So far, we’ve found 3 who we think will be keepers. They are settling into their new home and we’re getting to know them. As you can see by the fact that he hopped on with no halter or bridle or saddle, Nate is pretty confident this guy, “Dusty”, will work out well.
Wish us well in the shopping process. If you’re coming for a dude ranch vacation this summer, maybe you’ll get to try out one of these new rides!
Date: April 9th, 2014
Typically when we close down for the spring break at Vista Verde, it’s because all that amazing snow that Colorado is known for needs to melt away, which leads to a lot of mud. This year, the memo seems to have missed the mountains, as we’ve been getting more days of snow than sun in April. We could have stayed open another month, and still be hosting families coming for spring break vacations! But, hindsight is 20-20, of course. So, we’re making the best of it and trying to enjoy these fun spring conditions while the ranch is closed down.
There are several special times that happen throughout the spring in the mountains of Colorado. One of them is a small window of time when fly fishing the rivers is prime. It comes right in between the end of winter and spring. Brandon will be writing about that in an upcoming installment of The Fly. The other is crust skiing season. This “season” can come and go throughout the spring, depending on the conditions. We had those perfect conditions for our spring break week earlier in March. And, after weeks of fresh snow, we just hit those conditions again today.
Perfect spring crust skiing conditions arrive when the snow base is still deep but the spring sun has been beating on the top layer of snow for a day or two. Then, if you get a hard freeze overnight, the snow forms a perfect firm crust that you can walk on, bike on or ski on. No grooming equipment needed to pack down the snow, you just go wherever you want.
This morning I anticipated those conditions and grabbed my skis as I headed out the door to the Lodge. After getting a few things done in the office, waiting for the sun to peek over the Continental Divide, I put on my boots, hopped over the fence (it’s easy as it’s only peeking out about 4 inches above the snow) and hit the meadows.
Skating around the ranch property on the crust allows for you to go almost anywhere. I was in the meadows, playing slalom with the aspens, and dodging willows. Then I crossed a snow bridge over the creek, hopped a few more fences and ended up enjoying the sun breaking over the mountain as I headed toward Indian Hill. You can ski fast and far without much effort on the crust.
I didn’t see much wildlife, but there were a lot of tracks, and I was being watched at one point by a large winged friend (couldn’t tell what kind of hawk it was). Otherwise, it was perfectly silent and I glided across the snow.
Although we’re all dreaming of summer days right now, we would be foolish to not seize the moment to enjoy these experiences during our spring break! You never know what and when the right conditions will apply, but if you want to explore the idea of having a spring break vacation while we’re open in March next year, maybe we’ll get you out crust skiing!
Date: April 3rd, 2014
With summer quickly approaching, many people are planning their dude ranch vacations now. Many are surprised to find out that they are behind the 8-ball as most dude ranches tend to fill up quickly and often by spring are very full. With the availability at dude ranches waning and the pressure on, here are some tips on how to pick the best dude ranch vacation:
1) Start early- so you’re only planning your trip in April this year. Don’t give up. There are still some good dude ranches with availability. Find one, grab it and enjoy. And then start planning your next trip so you can book it in the fall!
2) Start with what kind of ranch you want. There are many different kinds of ranches, and from the Dude Rancher’s Association blog, I pulled this breakdown:
- “WORKING DUDE RANCH
These are working cattle or sheep operations. Your horseback riding adventures will be determined by the ranch’s livestock and the work related to them. Be prepared to experience these activities first hand.
- DUDE RANCH
Horseback riding is central to these ranches. The cowboy in you will experience Western riding and a variety of outdoor activities.
- RESORT DUDE RANCH
Horseback riding is featured, and these ranches offer an array of diverse activities and onsite facilities. These are apt to be the larger ranches.”
I would add to this the question of do you want a more luxury experience or a more rustic experience, or something in the middle? Dude ranches ranges from the bare-boned experience you may remember from “City Slickers” to luxury dude ranches that offer fine linens and gourmet meals. Where do you fall in that spectrum? This choice will point you towards either more luxurious accommodations and meals that are like what you find at a fine restaurant or rustic and quaint log cabins and simple meals, or somewhere in between. Your answer to this question will also slide you one way or another along the price point spectrum.
3) What kind of activities do you want? Are you looking for a ride, ride, ride experience or do you want to try a little bit of everything? Some of the best dude ranches offer only riding and some of them offer a full range of activities.
4) Kids. Do you have ‘em? Don’t like ‘em? If no, then you may want to find a ranch that doesn’t cater to families. Or, many ranches offer times during their season when they are adult-only. At Vista Verde, we set aside September and October for adult-only ranch vacations.
5) Kids. Have ‘em, like ‘em? If yes, then you get to decide how you want to play out your family vacation. Do you want to spend all your time with them? Do you want to have some times when the kids are watched? Are you hoping to show up on Sunday and not see your kids until the following Sunday? Each dude ranch with a kids program sets up theirs up differently. Decide what feels right to you and then look for a ranch that meets that desire. At Vista Verde, we try to hit it in the middle with an active and engaging kids program, some dinners set aside for just the adults, but then also a lot of opportunities for families to be together and create memories. Also, pay attention to age minimums. Ranches are usually best suited for kids 6 and up, but some do have programs for the little ones.
7) How is the riding program? Do you just want to sit on a horse and enjoy the scenery or is this a learning vacation for you. The best dude ranches have a lot of learning to their riding programs, but maybe you don’t want that? Do they offer clinics or instruction? How big are the trail rides? How often do you ride? Again, taken from the Dude Rancher’s Association blog:
“Choose the riding environment that appeals to you; open meadows, prairies, mountain trails or southwestern desert. The location of the ranch determines the terrain.
Then, choose the type of riding you’d like; working livestock, cattle drives, pack trips, team penning and arena games or daily trail rides.”
8) Size- Do you want to be in a very intimate setting with only a dozen other people, or do you want a larger feel? Smaller ranches (20 guests) are indeed more intimate. Larger ranches (80-100 guests) are less personal but there are a lot of people to meet and enjoy. And the mid-size ranches (~40-50 guests) kind of hit it in the middle. Still personal, but a variety of people to meet and get to know during the course of your stay. Because you will. Dude ranches are not the place for an anonymous vacation, but you very well will develop relationships that last for years and years. And dude ranch guests are usually really interesting, adventurous and fun people.
9) Reviews- Check Tripadvisor reviews of dude ranches. Ask your friends if they’ve ever been to one. You’ll get pointed to the best dude ranch vacation through those avenues.
10) Last, but most important. Trust your gut. I just heard a story on the radio (yep, I do still listen to the radio when I drive) about how a group of people who are given some basic facts about world events do a better job predicting what will happen than an expert who has access to all the classified information. It reminded me how I tell potential guests to just trust their gut when choosing. Yes, it can be overwhelming to choose a dude ranch vacation. But, once you’ve narrowed it down to your top 5, just trust your gut on your pick. The truth is, you’ll probably have a great time at any of the ranches on that list.
Now pack your bags and enjoy! If you want more info on what to do if you chose Vista Verde and then found out we are full, check out this post on planning your dude ranch vacation.