A winter spa-cation at a dude/guest ranch

pic4-1When you’re talking about a relaxing, rejuvenating winter vacation, the words “spa” and “ranch” don’t often come in the same sentence. Yet there are dozens of dude and guest ranch resorts that combine those two fabulous ideas. Imagine taking a dashing horseback ride through the snow, or showshoeing up hill and dale, and then coming back to steamy soaking tub and a massage. Or on a warmer note, heading for a sun-drenched Southwest ranch for a day of riding hrough the saguaros, followed by a facial or a mani-pedi? A real  ranch spa-cation. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

After a tough 2010, you deserve all the pampering you can get; these ranches are sure to help you unwind and rejuvenate. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Snowy ranches

Resort at Paws Up

Look for first-class service, luxury accommodations, gourmet cuisine, and amazing adventures on Paws Up’s 37,000 acres nfear Greenough, MT. Winter spa-cation: If that’s not enough, how about taking a canter in the 74,000 square-foot equestrian center with indoor arena. But perhaps the most popular spot in January is Spa town® at Paws Up, set on the edge of a silent, snow covered meadow. You’ll find eleven large, well stocked tents, in one of the most unique spas you’ve ever seen. Stroll through the snowy woods along a wooden boardwalk that brings you to a little tent town where relaxation lives. Enter the massage tent and you’ll find relaxation for your body and mind.  It’s a great way to end a winter’s day at the ranch.
Fun and fit/winter activities: skiing and snowshoeing, snowmobiling, winter atv, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, winter horseback riding.

The Ranch at Rock Creek

Montana’s Big Sky, and the Ranch at Rock Creek’s Big Luxury. What a combo; accommodations range from the Granite Lodge, the Luxury Tent Cabins, and the Log Homes. It’s near Philipsburg, MT, open year-round. Winter spa-cation: professional massage therapy treatments available in a dedicated five-room spa inside the stone-and-timber Granite Lodge. Swedish deep tissue massage, warm mountain rock treatments, high-tech or all-natural facials, and the signature ‘Rock Creek Ritual’ are always welcome after a vigorous day outdoors. Hair and nail styling is also available. Peruse the inviting options on a daily spa menu, tell them what time is best for you, and their staff will take care of the rest.
Fun and fit/winter activities: Horseback riding, downhill skiing at Discovery Basin with 60+ runs of all skill levels, fly fishing, sleigh rides, sporting clay shooting, ice skating, gourmet ranch cuisine, a spa and luxury amenities.

Sunny ranches

Tanque Verde Ranch

Just east of Tucson and next door to the fabulous Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest, Tanque Verde is one of the most loveliest Arizona ranch resorts. And now it boasts new, lower rates and a January 2011special: Buy 6 nights…Stay 7 nights. Winter spa-cation: Looking for a special spa getaway, girls spa retreat, or romantic spa escape to soothe the muscles and refresh the spirit? At their La Sonora Spa, you’ll find it all, from spa massages and Arizona body treatments to nail treatments and hair salon services. Ask about their spa packages.
Fun and fit/winter activities: Horseback riding, dancing, desert hiking trails, fishing, mountain biking, swimming, tennis, watercolor painting, and learning in the desert nature center.

Rancho de los Caballeros

An historic guest ranch and golf club with true Southwest flare, Rancho de los Caballeros is a warm winter wonderland. Set near Wickenburg, AZ, the ranch boasts 20,000 acres of rugged trails for horseback riding, championship golf, fine dining, and spa treatments. Winter spa-cation: Take a desert bath, in a soothing herbal bath or an actual milk bath (hey, it worked for Cleopatra). Get a wrap, a scrub, or just chill out with a mani-pedi. A facial or a massage.     Fun and fit/winter activities: tennis, swimming, trap and skeet, Los Caballeros golf club, nature program and birdwatching, exploring historic Wickenburg, evening entertainment. You’ll love taking long rides through the Sonoran desert landscape, or just breathing the warm scented air undisturbed by anything except, perhaps, the call of a cactus wren.


Alisal Guest Ranch

Just north of Santa Barbara, this  famed resort ranch offers golf and horseback riding on 10,000 acres. (it’s also great for families, thanks to its extensive children’s programs).
Winter spa-cation: You should be calmed and invigorated just by experiencing the fresh air, open spaces, and natural beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley. But it that’s not enough, head for the fitness center and spa, where you can work on weights and cardio equipment or join a fitness class (yoga, Pilates, Zumba and ab sculpting). Next step: the spa for soothing Swedish and deep tissue massages, gentle cleansing facials, or a therapeutic mud and herb wraps (great for the skin, some say). Fun and fit winter activities: Horseback riding is big here, but so is golf and tennis. You’ll also find a private lake and some of the best bass fishing in the state (fishing on Alisal Lake is reserved for guests of the Ranch exclusively. All bass are natural spawn wild fish and fishing is catch and release.) Want more? Try bird and nature walks, archery and air rifle range, and a gourmet restaurant.


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