Horsing Around

Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts April 2003 Current Issue
April 2003
Short Cuts:
Horsing Around

High-end ranch retreats appeal to groups


Since the release of the popular 1991 Billy Crystal/Jack Palance comedy City Slickers, ranches have become favored destinations for corporate groups longing for fresh air, big sky and some good old-fashioned horsing around. Among the many convenient and group-friendly venues is Horseshoe Canyon Ranch (www.horseshoecanyon.com) in Jasper, Ark., just 50 miles south of Branson, Mo. Visitors will find generally mild weather and a host of activities including fishing, canoeing, rock climbing and cattle roping. Five years old and family run, the ranch has meeting space for 50 and accommodations for up to 35.

“Groups can isolate themselves here and accomplish what they need to do,” says owner Jerry Johnson, who notes that April and September are ideal months for corporate visitors.

In Tucson, Ariz., the 41-room White Stallion Ranch (www.wsranch.com) features hiking, tennis, basketball, volleyball, a petting zoo and horseback riding along some of the prettiest trails this side of Dodge City. “Once here, people can’t just walk over to a sports bar,” says owner Russell True, “and we don’t have TVs in the rooms. Companies like that.” Opening in July is a 2,600-square-foot conference center with a full range of technology, seating for 125 people and reception space for 200.

A new, more private place to play cowboy is the 51,000-acre Stonyford Ranch (www.stonyfordgroup.com) near Mendocino National Forest in Elk Creek, Calif., a three-hour drive northeast from San Francisco. Only six cabins are on the site of this former working cattle ranch that now caters solely to corporate groups of up to 15. “Of the people who come here,

99 percent are on a level playing field,” says Alex Marks, founder and CEO of the Stonyford Group, which owns the ranch. “Hardly anyone has rounded up a cow before, for instance.”


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