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Lasso the Stars: Inclusivity, Culture & Wild Luxury

The all-inclusive guest ranch, The Ranch at Rock Creek, was awarded Forbes Travel Guide's Five-Stars

The Ranch Receives Fourth Consecutive Five-Star Rating

We are thrilled to announce that we’ve just received the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth straight year! We want to thank all our current and former staff for their commitment in achieving this honor. As Gerard J. Inzerillo, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide explained today in a press release, the 2017 winners demonstrate “a strong culture of service,” based on 800 separate standards.

A Ranch at Rock Creek bartender serves a Pressed Cider Martini cocktail to a guest

“The Ranch at Rock Creek is honored and proud to receive the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star award for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes Travel Guide is our industry’s leader in quality assurance, ensuring we consistently deliver the finest service and unforgettable Montana guest ranch experience for our valued guests. We extend our appreciation to Forbes Travel Guide for their recognition of The Ranch as the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch again in 2017. Congratulations to the fine staff of The Ranch for their commitment to the Forbes Travel Guide standards of excellence and for their passion in delivering exceptional guest experiences every day of the year.” ~ Steve Shotsberger, General Manager

A group enjoys a snowga excursion at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Ranch

We are in excellent company, with 352 hotels across the world and 77 hotels in the U.S. achieving this year’s five-star rating. As our General Manager mentioned, we remain the world’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star guest ranch and one of the only glamping destinations.

A young moose crosses Rock Creek Road near beautiful Philipsburg, Montana

We are proud of these notable and even curious facts. At first glance, there are many aspects of Montana wilderness that may seem incongruous with a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star luxury hotel. Yet, again, it’s the culture of service and can-do spirit that is referenced time and again in our reviews that allow us to bridge that gap for our guests without tamping down the pristine, untamed nature that makes Gold Country so magical. The Ranch has only been open for six and a half years, but it’s the commitment to perfecting this niche, authentic experience that has made four of those years so stellar.

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One Fine Day: Winter Yoga, Serenity and Wellness

Retreating with Our New Granite Spa Manager

“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you…only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ~ Author and Gardener Ruth Stout

It’s time to make fresh tracks. Whether you’re doing this literally in Montana’s new-fallen snow or figuratively as you plan for the year, January is the time to break out of ruts and establish new paths in work, relationships and travel. We know the value of striking out on a path all your own. We’ve created a robust activities program with over two-dozen year-round activities that allows guests to try new adventures and hone in on what’s meaningful to them.


The Ranch herd lays fresh tracks through the snow. Photo by Housekeeping Supervisor Zachary Jones. 

Over the past few years, we’ve curated experiences that allow guests to immerse themselves in one aspect of The Ranch’s offerings or another, such as a yoga retreat, frontiersman-style adventure, unlimited ski vacation or private romantic getaway to highlight these different travel experiences. Many of these special offers feature inclusions from our award-winning Granite Spa, and one special offer – our Winter Yoga & Spa Retreat – focuses on the mental repose only our nature-focused spa can offer.

The Granite Spa at The Ranch at Rock Creek

Our Granite Spa is one of the few optional, additional-cost amenities at The Ranch, along with our off-Ranch excursions and Mercantile. It has become an integral part of The Ranch at Rock Creek’s experiential travel offerings. In 2016, we saw The Granite Spa winning the Spafinder Wellness 360 Travel Awards for Best Spa for Couples and Best Spa for Outdoor Adventure and Activities.  We also launched a pioneering new partnership with Little Barn Apothecary as the first professional spa to use their bloom-to-bottle products in our treatment rooms. Organic Spa Magazine listed us as a “Spa with a Wild Side” and The Robb Report and New Beauty Magazine delved into our signature Raindrop Therapy treatment.

A treatment room at The Granite Spa in Montana

 

While mountaintop yoga has been part of our luxury resort since the beginning, in 2015, the Spa expanded our yoga program to include hybrid yoga/activity practices like snowga, zip line yoga and cowboy/girl yoga. We offer complimentary weekly snowga each winter, as well as fitness classes like yoga, country cardio and group treks. The Hollywood Reporter just identified snowga as one of 2017’s biggest wellness trends.

Three Ranch at Rock Creek staff members enjoy Snowga at the Top of the World viewpoint overlooking Montana's Rocky Mountains Read more…

Fresh Experiences in Fresh Powder

New Winter Experiences at The Ranch

The New Year is a chance to start fresh, so we have a slate of new winter experiences—adventure and culture-based—that are unique to our luxury guest ranch.


View a video of a typical winter getaway at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

Every year, since we opened in 2010, we’ve looked to heighten our commitment to experiential travel. Watch our new video above to see what experiential travel means to us. Each activity must aid guests in forging a deeper connection with Montana’s environs or culture. The list of novel adventures and cultural additions below is aimed at ensuring our travelers enjoy the ultimate Montana getaway.

The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new winter experiences that mixes gourmet cuisine with fireside camaraderie
The Nordic Bonfire is one of our new, popular winter experiences. 

If you’d like to celebrate the best that a Montana winter has to offer, please join us for our Frost & Fire Winter Celebration from February 14 through 21, where all of these new winter experiences are coupled with festivities, like a barn dance, brewfest and a Valentine’s celebration to warm you to the core. Read more…

Giving Back: A Christmas Season of Stories

Third Annual Granite County Festival of Trees

While we are just finished decking our halls for the upcoming holiday celebrations, we’ve been in the Christmas spirit for over a month.

Sunset at the Buckle Barn before the 2016 Granite County Festival of Trees - hosting is one of the ways we're giving back to the communityThe sun sets before the Gala Auction. Look closely and you’ll see the Christmas trees glowing inside the Buckle Barn. Photo by Rancher Katie Forbes.

On November 11 and 12, we hosted the Granite County Festival of Trees for the second year in a row. The Festival has become a tradition for The Ranch—we’ve been a sponsor for three years. We joined 18 other regional sponsors in supporting this year’s event. Read about last year’s Mystical Mountain Christmas and the first annual event.

Hands go up as people bid on trees during the Granite County Festival of Trees, one of The Ranch at Rock Creek's giving initiatives
A scene from the live auction. The event filled the Buckle Barn. 

This wonderful event serves so many purposes. It supports local healthcare initiatives through the non-profit Granite County Medical Foundation. It showcases the incredible artistic talent we have in a community with only 3,000 residents. Lastly, it allows the community to come together and unite for a worthy cause. This year, the Festival raised over $36,000. Read more…

Winter Corporate Travel: Board Room to Bucket List

Montana Group and Corporate Travel

This week we’re reposting a blog that one of our ranchers wrote for Glacier Country Tourism, Montana. Heather Rue is the director of marketing at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana where she leads the cross-channel marketing efforts to build awareness of and tell stories about The Ranch’s exceptional Montana travel experiences. Over her career in marketing, she has produced hundreds of corporate, nonprofit and cause-marketing events and programs. Heather is active in her local community and is raising country kids, chickens and labs while soaking up all life in Montana has to offer. Read the original blog here


Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of producing hundreds of corporate meetings and events in some of the world’s greatest destinations. While the purpose, scope and locations of these gatherings have varied, all of them were designed to inspire excellence, trust and community while nurturing new thinking about business relationships and value creation. More often than not, we aspired to showcase the event destination in a creative way, as we provided a unique and enriching experience for the attendees. As planners, we didn’t want to duplicate our company’s conference room in a different locale; we wanted to draw from the culture of the destination and inspire them through novel experiences, like skiing after a morning meeting or receiving a handmade box filled with local treats at turn down.

A group gets ready to ride a run at Discovery Ski Area in Philipsburg, Montana

Throughout the last decade, my passion for event planning and marketing has continued to blossom because of that essential, powerful ingredient—experiential travel. After living and working in many US cities, I am grateful to call Montana my home, especially since Montana is a place where travelers are instantly captured by a sense of wonder. Montana, through my lens, is an extraordinary, transformative destination for everyone from homebodies to globetrotters; a place where bucket-list experiences are checked off left and right.

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Seize the Winter! New Winter Specials to Celebrate Snow

The excitement for winter is building. As the season begins to change, some people might think a ranch like ours would go into hibernation mode—quite the opposite actually. The winter is a whirlwind season of adventure, filled with activities that people in our area have been enjoying for 150 years, plus a few newer pursuits thrown into the mix.

jose-villa-eagles-perch-winter-landscape
Photo by Jose Villa Photography

Shivani Vora of the New York Times just published a story entitled, “How to Have a Culturally Rich Vacation.” She suggests ways to become more immersed, no matter your destination.

Travel company owner Ashish Sanghrajka points out, “Getting exposed to local culture is enriching and shows us a world beyond ourselves.”

We couldn’t agree more. This exposure to novel experiences is good for the body and spirit. Winter is also the perfect time to try something new. It’s a time that we often contemplate resolutions and direction for the year ahead. It is a time to get inspired by exploring parts unknown.

winter-arch

Vora further suggests that you try a local hotel instead of a chain and minimize big planned excursions. Again, we agree. Staying in a remote winter wonderland and relying on our local tips and guides allows guests to make the most of the Montana winter experience. These private on-Ranch activities help you optimize the weather, the cuisine and the culture.

Winter Specials Celebrating Montana Lifestyle & Culture

The Silver Dollar Saloon hosts bowling tournaments, private movie screenings, shuffleboard and karaoke-great activities during a snowfall

Every year we try to showcase Montana culture and sports by creating winter specials. In some cases, these are guest favorites and in other cases they are new experiences based on the traditions and history of Southwest Montana. Between December 1 and March 31, 2017 (stay restrictions may apply), we encourage you to seize the winter with these four new and custom-curated travels that you can only experience when the snow falls at The Ranch at Rock Creek.

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Wedding in a Winter Wonderland at Laurie Arons’ Masterclass

As the forecast hints of snow, we’re starting to think about our exciting winter season. This year we’re offering four new special offers for leisure travelers and one special offer for groups. However, we don’t want to ignore a very special kind of travel to The Ranch—destination weddings.

We’ve had the privilege to work with Laurie Arons, one of the world’s premier wedding planners, for the past two years. Laurie has been featured on Vogue’s “The Ultimate Wedding Planner Master List,” and we have the pictures to prove that she deserves her title as a “master.” In 2015, we did a Q&A with Laurie after her spring Wedding Planner Masterclass. This week, we welcome her as a guest blogger as she showcases her experiences at the 2016 winter Wedding Planner Masterclass. Join her for a special takeover on Wednesday, November 16th on our Instagram account.



Planning the Ultimate Winter Wedding by Laurie Arons

As a wedding planner, I’ve long been inspired by the beauty of winter weddings—so cozy, intimate and romantic.

Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table feast during their winter wedding welcome dinner
Masterclass attendees enjoy a farm-to-table welcome dinner in the Blue Canteen. Photo by Jose Villa.

The past two winters I’ve spent at The Ranch at Rock Creek opened my eyes to the potential of a winter affair where guests get to snuggle by the fire and warm their hearts when it’s cold outside.

Guests to The Ranch at Rock Creek can enjoy a roaring fire in the Sweet Grass glamping cabinSweet Grass Canvas Cabin – A three-room glamping tent open year-round. Photo by Jose Villa. 

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Fresh Picks From Autumn Harvest Weekend

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We’ve just enjoyed one of our favorite times of the year—our annual Autumn Harvest Weekend. While our Instagram followers experienced this celebration in real time through video “stories,” we wanted to hand pick some farm-to-table festivities to share with our Blog at Rock Creek readers. Before this blog ends, you’ll find a recipe for a cocktail that’s sure to be as bright and invigorating as a harvest moon.

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Montana Moments: Photo Essay by Server & Photographer Willie MacDade

As the seasons change and the holidays approach, we are reminded that a photograph of the exact same spot in the summer looks entirely different in the spring, fall and winter. But, things don’t only change season to season; they change moment to moment. The serenity of a flowing stream may be interrupted by an eagle swooping down to catch a fish, or a cow and calf moose might decide they want to try glamping (Watch a recent guest’s video of a moose sighting).

Four seasons on Rock Creek, Four Montana Moments
Four Seasons on Rock Creek. Fall Photo by IG user @mpbroderick; Winter Photo by Granite Spa Massage Therapist Lindsay Roberts; Spring Photo by Jose Villa Photography; Summer Photo by Robert Cole Photography.

Our Favorite Montana Moments

This changeability is why we love the Montana Office of Tourism’s “#montanamoment” hashtag. We’re grateful to guests and staff members who share their pictures with us on social media or by email, so we can see the wild beauty of our home through their eyes. This week, we are pleased to bring you a new perspective from one of our Ranchers. Willie MacDade joined us last May and has seized every spare moment to explore our landscape and wider Montana. In many ways, seasonal employees experience Montana in a similar way to first-time guests; they are let loose on 6,600 acres of secluded wilderness and are given dozens of ways to explore it. If you’re inspired by Willie’s travels, we invite you to peruse the Indulgent Frontiersman special for an intriguing take on winter exploration.



Life as a Rancher with Willie MacDade

When I graduated college last May, I had no plans of working on a guest ranch. I did not know what my immediate future had in store for me. I did not know a place like The Ranch at Rock Creek even existed.

Photographer and Server Willie MacDade wades into Rock Creek for a self-portrait
Hey there! My name is Willie and I am a server and photographer at The Ranch.

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Entertaining in the Legendary West

Silver spurs, gold nuggets and riding off into sunsets—these are the icons of the legendary West. Since the Western states were formed and the barbed wire was strung, the Rocky Mountain states have changed in a myriad of ways (notably, with more indoor plumbing and fewer gun battles with road agents), but it’s still retained a wildness that’s rare in our modern day. In Montana, cattle outnumber people by 2.6 million to 1 million. In our neck of the woods there are more dirt roads than paved.

cattle_drive

Legendary adventures remain available for people willing to drive or fly a little further into the heart of the West. As The Ranch at Rock Creek has grown over the past six years, we’ve retained the feeling of our historic homestead roots. We appreciate that our partners in the travel industry celebrate our local ranching culture and allow us to remain, at heart, a Gold Country ranch. Of these partnerships, perhaps Relais & Châteaux is most notable for its appreciation of local food and culture.

Dutch oven cooking is a big part of Western cuisine at The Ranch at Rock Creek, a Relais & Chateaux luxury resort

Although this collection started in the chateaux and kitchens of France, Relais & Châteaux were quick to recognize there is no one way or one place to live well. Each region of the world can elevate their local cuisine, local culture and local art to higher standards, allowing guests to drink in the experience. This week, we’re pleased to announce two pieces of exciting news in concert with our Relais & Châteaux family: the release of their new book, The Art of Entertaining, and the new Legendary West Route du Bonheur.

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