Gene Kilgore’s Ranch Vacations

Ranch Vacations
The Leading Guide to Guest and Resort, Fly-Fishing, and Cross-Country Skiing Ranches in the United States and Canada, 6th Edition.

Ultra Ranches-luxury and service top the list

Lodge-FallTriple Creek Ranch

Montana

When you talk about Triple Creek Ranch, the words “award-winning” always seem to come up. This luxury resort, set in the Bitterroot Mountain Range of the Montana Rockies, was recently voted the #1 Inn/Small Lodge in the US and #2 Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure’s 2012 Readers Choice Awards.

How do you get to be number one in the United States and number two in the world? Ranchweb’s blog editor recently asked Triple Creek Ranch representative Deb Schara.  “Triple Creek Ranch is one of the world’s highest ranked hotel over the past 5 years, according to Travel + Leisure’s ‘World’s Best’ ratings,” said Schara, “and we got there with a score of 98.22—one of the highest scores ever.”

If you’re wondering what it takes to achieve that ranking, Scharra has a ready answer. “Our reviews have been great because of our attention to detail,” she says. “All our employees — from servers to housekeeper — goes above and beyond to give guests the help they need. And it’s a team effort–no matter what activity you want to pursue that day—from horseback riding  to fly fishing in summer to skiing in winter.”

All of this high service hums through a uniquely beautiful facility. The acreage around the main lodge is dotted with individual cabins, each with a wood-burning fireplace, king log-post beds, and some with private hot tubs. Each cabin is set so that when you sit on your deck, you don’t stare at another cabin—just an amazing view.TripleCreek_3

“People love the privacy. You can be with others or totally alone with each other. Large screen TVs in cabins have Blue Ray players and a there’s a library of DVDs to choose from, so you can be entertained while you relax in the cabin.”

“Its beautiful and quiet–there’s no cell service–so we encourage people to go outside their comfort zone and try things. We’ve gotten people on a horse who’ve never petted one before,” notes Scharra. Nature tours get them out to enjoy the countryside.

Okay, so between the fabulous facilities, an attentive staff, and a variety of activies—the only thing we haven’t talked about is the food. Very quickly, I learn that food and wine is big here. “We have a sommelier and that makes all the difference. Guests can request wine tastings here in the main lodge, or after our cooking classes,” scharra says. “And its all inclusive if the guest comes during that time (when classes occur).”

Dining1111The chef was schooled at the CIA in New York and his specialty is wild game and fish, but Scharra notes that he also likes Asian and Southwest influences. “There’s almost no chance you’ll get bored with the menu,” she says, “because it changes daily.”  And if you’ve gone vegan or have food allergies, no worries— they will accommodate special diets and food allergies.

“We have our own gardens and orchards, so the veggies or fruits on your plate may have just been picked that morning.”

At the end of your stay, you can take a bit of the ranch home with you in the form of their own jams and jellies, or you can get a packed breakfast or lunch as you leave. They really take care of their guests.

“The staff is amazing,” concludes Scharra, “and that’s the key to it.”

Details: Open January, February, April through December. Capacity: 60 (for meetings: 60). Rates: Start at $950 per night, per couple. Memberships: Relais & Chateaux, Virtuoso, Andrew Harper, Orvis Endorsed Lodge, JG Black Book.

Winter activities: Skiing: flex your schussing muscles on Alpine or Nordic skis along the Continental Divide on the Montana-Idaho border. The ranch is just a short, 30-minute drive from skiing in the Northern Rockies at Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Resort or at Chief Joseph Pass for cross-country skiing (available through February, weather permitting). Not into skiing? Then how about dog sledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or that unique western sport call skijoring (a skier is pulled by a horse).

Coming soon: more “Ultra Ranches”, including The Ranch at Rock Creek, The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek, and The Resort at Paws Up.

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