Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts April 2003
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.”
• TERENCE BAKER
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