1) Organization, stimulation, and providing the opportunity to disengage. Studies seem to demonstrate that one of the greatest aspects of your vacation is the anticipation of it. In other words, by the time you've begun your trip, you've already experienced the best part.
That's not what we want for our guests. While we do want you to have a ball looking forward to vacationing with us, as do all guest ranches, we also want you to have an incredible time while you're here. Huffington Post shares from a research journal that "While all vacationers enjoyed pre-trip happiness, the study’s authors found that people only experienced a boost in happiness post-vacation if their trip was relaxing. If their vacation was deemed “stressful” or “neutral,” their post-trip happiness levels were comparable to those who hadn’t taken a vacation at all."
The take-a-way for ranches is that in order to be top-notch, we have to provide our guests with a stay that offers all the organization and stimulation they need to keep their family happy. But, the guests must also have the opportunity to disengage. The best guest ranches are able to provide your lodging, meals, and all your activities in a way where you don't have to worry about the details. You can just sit back, relax, and hang your boot heels over the porch railing.
The experiences guest ranches provide can offer you the space and tools to contribute positively to your worldview, your perspectives toward nature and other people. I’ve outlined below several steps that demonstrate the process that I’ve witnessed through our guests over the years. This process of transformation has, to my knowledge, not been outlined within the guest ranching industry but is a strong component of many of the ranches that exist today.
Setting the Stage
Before 'agritourism' was a word, ranches across the West were offering a place for guests to stay and experience the lifestyle of cattle ranchers and farmers. An industry that originated by family and friends visiting this wild world of cowboys, changed quickly to a method for providing a supplemental income for ranchers as popularity spread and more ‘city slickers’ journeyed to these far out places.
And now, as many guest ranches rely more on tourism than cattle or crop productions, the focus of a ‘guest ranch’ has and should evolve to meet the needs of current travelers.
Family vacations have the potential to be rewarding, exciting, and just plain fun. But, as you begin the process of planning out your grand adventure, your pursuits start to become frustrating. With so many personalities, sports schedules, and conflicting ideas, the process turns grim and, if you don’t pull your hair out by the end, you’ve decided to consider that a success.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. With just a few simple strategies, you’ll be ready for your Thanksgiving get-together and go home having put together the vacation of a lifetime. Here’s how:
Recently, we trailered our entire herd of horses down to the western slope of Colorado for winter pasture and care. Through that process of working with the horses, getting them loaded, and hauling them 5 hours away, I began to think about what guests enjoy most about the ranch and the western experience we offer.
While many activities and adventures come to mind, one in particular kept reoccurring in my thought processes but not for the reason you might think. In the eyes of a 'transformational traveler' (one searching for a more immersive experience in culture and place that challenges and inspires on a more deeply, personal level), trail riding may very well be at the heart of what’s so appealing about the Elk River Guest Ranch.