SADDLE UP WESTERN STYLE
The Benefits of Meeting at a Guest Ranch
By Susan Bejeckian
Providing a rustic backdrop for a wide range of corporate retreats and special group
events are fast becoming popular meeting venues because of their uniqueness and versatility.
From Western barbecues to participatory rodeos, a multitude of choices abound for the
meeting attendees amid the great Western outdoors. Friendly hospitality, wide-open landscapes
and an unhurried pace all are attractive meeting components whether it be for a small
conference for ten people or larger groups of 150.
Most conference service directors at various guest ranches throughout the west
agree that the benefits of holding their meeting on a ranch are many.
* Afford a remote scenic atmosphere among flora and fauna
* Allow for fresh air and wide open spaces as an option
* Facilitate a social environment with healthy diversions such as horseback riding, tennis,
golf, fly-fishing, hiking and mountain biking
* Provide a television and telephone-free guestroom environment
* Offer Western alternatives to typical break-out sessions
* Stimulate productivity because of fewer distractions
"Our goal is to bring the great Western outdoors to meeting attendees and create an
environment that stimulates more creative thinking," said General Manager David Lautensack
of The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort, a 10,000-acre working cattle ranch nestled in the heart
of the Santa Ynez wine country.
An advantage to meeting at a guest ranch is that groups need not be confined to
traditional meeting spaces. Meeting attendees want a departure from the traditional meeting
spaces and the ranch can arrange for a multitude of venues. Outdoor conference areas at The
Alisal include a picturesque lakefront deck, the historic Adobe Camp, poolside pavilion and
serene creekside garden.
If meeting indoors is on the agenda, locations such as the Alisal Guest Ranch have become
sought after executive retreats. With 6,000 sq. ft. of diverse meeting space, The Alisal is a
relaxing and productive experience for group meetings and corporate retreats, according to
The intimate Library (Actor Clark Gable exchanged wedding vows here to Lady Ashley)
features residential living-room style seating, a cozy woodburning fireplace and private bar.
Ideal for larger meetings, the handsome 2,800 sq. ft. Sycamore Room, seating 150, is fashioned
with high-beamed ceilings, expansive windows facing the great outdoors and a large stone hearth
with wood mantle. The Western-themed Cottonwood Room is well appointed with hardwood
floors, a Navajo-style painted ceiling and allows for plenty of natural light. All meeting space
is well equipped with the most current audio-visual equipment.
Many ranches feature authentic Western rodeo arenas where attendees can gather
for team penning or to watch wranglers show off their barrel racing and calf roping skills.
Other diversions include golf, tennis, volleyball, swimming, boating and cross country
and mountain biking. To foster team building and friendly competition, a wide variety of games
can be arranged fishing derbies to mini-olympic events.
Adventure-based team building with low element challenge course activities are also
a draw at The Alisal. "Triangle Tension Traverse" and "Team Wall" are among the many
low element activities offered to meeting goers. By October, 1998, the ranch will add a high
elements challenge course with a host of activities including "Multi-Vine," "Pamper Pole,"
"Giant's Ladder," and "Zip Line."
And if the recreation alone is not enough to spur meeting planners to book a meeting at
a ranch, then a hearty ranch breakfast and one of several authentic Western barbecues will.
Meeting goers can opt for a morning horseback or haywagon ride to savor a full ranch
breakfast around the campfire with buttermilk flapjacks, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and
At The Alisal ranch breakfast, guests enjoy cowboy poetry by a resident wrangler and
a singing cowboy on guitar.
Themed dinners include a Western saloon night and traditional Western BBQ dinner.
At The Alisal, groups can also relax over winemaker dinners hosted by the vintners
themselves at some of the area's most celebrated wineries.
Back at the ranch, guests enjoy frontier-sized portions of juicy barbecued steaks and ribs,
succulent chicken and fresh catch of the day, accompanied by live Country Western music and
optional line dancing with instructors.
For meeting planners arranging incentive trips for their sales forces, they can celebrate
the harvest this October by booking the new Cuvee de Alisal package. The Alisal Guest Ranch
And Resort package offers two nights of accommodations in a deluxe suite, a wine and cheese
basket upon arrival, "Pinot To Go" gourmet picnic baskets, bicycles to tour the area's wine
region, a horseback ride and breakfast and dinner daily.
Whether planning a casual and relaxed event or arranging a lavish formal meeting with
gourmet grub, meeting planners discover the splendor of the great outdoors and the endless
possibilities by meeting at a guest ranch.
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