Home on the Range
Ranches can run from the small with only a few cabins to the quite large, with facilities that can handle up to 250 guests for a meeting or event. Most ranches offer meetings facilities for around 40 to 50 people, Hodson says, and most ranches in the Dude Ranch Association have added these facilities and supporting technology in the past few years to meet the steadily growing demand.
“For the larger groups, you really have to book a year in advance, and that does not include the summer months, which are mostly given to families. Group meetings and retreats really get going in the shoulder months of September and October and May and June,”she adds.“Only a handful of ranches are open year‘round.”
Several of those four-season ranches in the luxury category are in Montana. These include Triple Creek Ranch, the Ranch at Rock Creek and Paws Up, among others.
At Triple Creek Ranch in the Bitterroot Valley some 75 miles south of Missoula, you are as likely to find yourself sipping a 2010 Château Margaux with the former Intel CEO who owns the place as you are donning cowboy chaps and mounting a Paint in the corral. The ranch has 30 rooms, most of them large, independent cabins with a wood-burning fireplace.
As a Relais & Chateau property the pampering is noticeable. Similarly, dining here is an event with a focus on French culinary and even a cooking school at the ready for customized programs.
As with most ranch operations, just about all guest requests are packaged in the nightly price, which is more geared to small groups