For more privacy and nature, luxury travelers head to the Western Dude Ranches

The hotels are out, the ranches are in. At least for some luxury travelers.

The wealthiest travelers are choosing to stay put rather than travel internationally this holiday season. Many head to the mountainous states in search of an intimate setting that combines privacy, security, fresh air and breathtaking views of nature. It’s also the kind of healthy setting that creates the space for bonding between family and friends.

As a result, a number of ultra-luxury Western ranches are seeing an increase in bookings this fall and winter. Experts say men’s ranches will continue to grow in popularity through the next year, boosting demand for luxury in states such as Montana, Utah and Colorado.

“Luxury ranches offer privacy and a great outdoor space to feel safe and secure when returning on a trip after a pandemic, but the most magical part is the sense of nostalgia and escape they offer” said Larry Mueller, CEO and founder of Cuvée, a travel agency that combines adventure with stays in villas, chalets and luxury estates. “After a difficult time, travelers want to experience a sense of freedom and adventure.”

Among the ultra-luxury ranches that are surging in popularity is the Triple Creek Ranch in Darby, Mt. Since 1995, this pioneering luxury ranch has offered more than just horseback riding.

Horseback riding at Triple Creek Ranch.

Photo by Pam Voth

The ranch features breathtaking scenery and dining imagined by the ranch’s gourmet chef, Jacob Leatherman, who combines fine cuisine, much of it locally sourced, with award-winning vintage wine. Guests stay in luxury cabins with private hot tubs.

“In recent years, especially with the pandemic, we’ve seen an increase in demand as people rediscovered America’s backyard and welcomed these new guests to our corner of Montana,” said David MacIlwraith , General Manager of Triple Creek Ranch.

Dunton Destinations, which has locations in Telluride and Dolores, Colorado, offers five-star hotel amenities in luxury tents amidst the wilderness. They are connected by trails with amenities including huge tubs and towel warmers.

There’s also The Ranch at Rock Creek, a five-star ranch with a renovated 19th-century barn and luxury log homes in Philipsburg, MT, offering everything from yoga classes to archery and sapphire mining.

The Green O station in Greenough, Mont.

The green O

Meanwhile, The Green O resort in Greenough, MT, offers stays in luxury residences called Light Haus, which have huge windows for star gazing at night. As for outings, they offer more than 25 outdoor activities, from snowmobile rides to snowshoes and nature hikes. Wellness activities include hot stone massages with Blackfoot River rocks.

At Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo., His old-fashioned farmhouse looks like the setting from an old western movie. The resort offers seed-to-table dining, a rotating menu in its luxury restaurant, as well as a nearly century-old brewery, distillery, and wine cellar. Winter activities include ice fishing, skiing and ice skating for guests. Brush Creek also has event space that can accommodate up to 250 people.

“Luxury travelers place a high value on their free time; they seek lifelong memories and experiences that combine personal growth, renewal and strengthening of relationships, ”said Mike Williams, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Brush Creek Ranch.

Cheyenne Club at the Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyo.

Nathan Kirkman

The Paws Up resort in Greenough, MT is also seeing a surge in bookings in the fall. According to Laurence Lipson, co-owner and general manager, it’s not just about the intrigue of the Old West. As a true cattle and bison ranch, it was born as a family business bought by its parents to raise cattle.

“We can offer a little more authenticity and historical perspective than the average ranch,” he says. “There is wonderful wildlife and a breathtaking environment in Montana. It’s a wild and rugged setting, but it’s also very peaceful and rejuvenating. There is a real sense of authenticity here.

On-site, the resort has luxury vacation homes, ranging from two to four bedrooms in wood-clad, as well as glamping, lodgings surrounded by greenery. You can take horse-drawn carriage rides or try a cattle ride. “Our ranching operations are things they couldn’t experience anywhere else in the world, instead of being more of a to-do list,” says Lipson.

Each rental ranch comes with a private Lexus vehicle so guests can get around the property. They have chef kitchens, fireplaces, outdoor terraces, and playrooms for families, as well as the kitchen of a former French laundry chef, Sunny Jin. Guests can choose from over 50 outdoor activities; the establishment has more than 160 km of trails that you can explore on foot, on horseback or by bicycle.

“We welcome travelers who want to be one with nature, but still want to be able to enjoy the finer things in life with little to no discomfort,” Lipson adds.


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