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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.

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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.


Relais & Châteaux, The Art of Entertaining

Today, our Mercantile shelves are stacked with a gorgeous new book, The Art of Entertaining, Relais & Châteaux: Menus, Flowers, Table Settings, and More for Memorable Celebrations by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and with photographs by Melanie Acevedo and David Engelhardt. As a property that hosts celebrations year-round, we are delighted to join the celebration and be featured in this unique book on artful entertaining.

Ranchers Josh Drage and Christina Wernikowski hold the new Relais & Chateaux book, the Art of Entertaining, where they are featured
Executive Chef Josh Drage and Events Food & Beverage Manager Christina Wernikowski.

As we launch our Autumn Harvest Weekend and Thanksgiving itineraries, we’re also looking toward winter celebrations. Our chapter in The Art of Entertaining is entitled “Wilderness Adventure Celebration: The Ranch at Rock Creek.” To help celebrate its release, Executive Chef Josh Drage and Events Food and Beverage Manager Christina Wernikowski will be hosting a special gathering at the book release party in New York City today. They will channel winter glamping as they bring the magic of snowy Montana to Hudson Street.

A legendary Western winter scene is set for the Wilderness Adventure CelebrationThe scene is set for a celebration in the legendary West. Photos Courtesy of David Engelhardt & Relais & Châteaux.

Within the book, readers can find recipes for the Willow Creek cocktail, Yule Mule cocktail, Crisp Potato Skins with Quail Eggs, Kale Chips and Gribiche, Cast-Iron Carmelized Parsnips and Brussels Sprouts and Lamb Stew. They can also delight in pictures depicting a winter feast outside of Trapper canvas cabin.

Executive Chef Josh Drage serves up cast-iron skillets full of Western delicacies for the new Relais & Chateaux bookExecutive Chef Josh Drage and the Wilderness Adventure Celebration menu. Photos Courtesy of David Engelhardt & Relais & Châteaux.

Attendees at the release party today will enjoy a Moscow Mule in The Ranch’s signature Montana-mined copper mugs while savoring bone broth and sweet cream biscuits with orange marmalade inspired by the Wilderness Adventure Celebration menu.

Photos from the Relais & Chateaux Art of Entertaining book, including the Wilderness Celebration at The Ranch at Rock CreekGuests at The Wilderness Adventure Celebration enjoy Yule Mules and Champagne. Photos Courtesy of David Engelhardt & Relais & Châteaux.

Executive Chef Drage explains in the book, “‘The idea of this menu is the simplicity of the ingredients are exposed in their most elemental forms.’ Fire plays off ice, while local and opulent come into harmony with dishes like fingerling potatoes served with house-smoked bacon, sage, and truffle mayonnaise. ‘Historically, you’d trade, barter, or borrow from neighbors, and we do rely on local producers and growers.”

Christina Wernikowski, who also serves as The Ranch’s floral designer, uses The Ranch’s environs as her flower market. At every celebration, you see touches of the local wildflowers, juniper, native grasses, produce or herbs to create pitch-perfect seasonal displays. She’s brought along some Ranch accents to make the release party feel more like the wilds of Montana.

relais-photo-1-alternate-copyEvent F&B Manager Christina Wernikowski stages the shoot for the Wilderness Adventure Celebration chapter. Photos Courtesy of David Engelhardt & Relais & Châteaux.

View pictures of the Ranchers Josh, Christina and Heather as they helped launch the new book. They were joined by Executive Chefs and representatives from fellow Relais & Châteaux properties: Manoir Hovey, Glenmere Mansion, Langdon Hall, Ocean House, Weekapaug Inn and Fearrington House.

The Art of Entertaining, Relais & Châteaux is now available in our Mercantile, and is a perfect holiday gift idea for the bon vivant in your life. Call the Merc at 1-877-786-1545 to purchase it and have it shipped anywhere in the United States.


Route du Bonheur: Legendary West

If you’d rather strike out on the open road than plan a holiday celebration, Relais & Châteaux has another cultural adventure in mind. We recently teamed up with other Western properties for a twist on the classic road trip. Relais & Châteaux creates special itineraries, called “Routes du Bonheur,” that encourage guests to travel through a region for a more authentic, in-depth experience.

The Relais & Chateaux legendary West Route du Bonheur weaves through the Rocky Mountains

This “Road of Happiness” is based on an actual road in France, “La Route du Bonheur.” In the 1950s, this road was built alongside the blue train line that ran from Paris’ Gare de Lyon station to the Côte d’Azur.

Relais & Châteaux explains, “outposts of fine French taste started to flourish along this route. As the owners of one of these establishments, Marcel and Nelly Tilloy saw an opportunity to band together with other locales sharing the same unflagging passion for hospitality and excellent cuisine. They offered an enticing culinary itinerary, encouraging travellers to explore all the spots.”

Our Legendary West Route du Bonheur runs along and over the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains. It is a trip from Montana to Colorado (or vice-versa) that leads travelers across the Continental Divide and deep into communities that still embrace the frontier. Stops along the way include fellow Relais & Châteaux properties: Triple Creek Ranch, The Home Ranch, The Little Nell and Dunton Hot Springs.

The legendary West Route du Bonheur starts in the Pintler Mountains at The Ranch at Rock CreekLenticular clouds float above the Pintler Mountains at The Ranch at Rock Creek. Photo by Michael Chilcoat Photography. 

This route strikes a balance between modern luxury and rustic past. Although soft beds, impressive design and professional staff are sure to be found at every stop, perhaps the most comforting amenities are those provided by the Rockies themselves. In the farthest reaches of this itinerary, including a stay at The Ranch at Rock Creek, minimal population creates an environment with no light pollution, little traffic and high wildlife populations. People who set off in search of these legendary Western luxuries will not be disappointed.

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The virtue of this trip is that travelers can traverse the mountains in any season and achieve a completely different experience. As we embark on a beautiful fall season, this trip is ideal for wildlife spotters and harvest lovers. In the winter it couldn’t be more suited to cross-country skiers, ice skaters and snowshoers; and in spring it beckons fly fishermen aiming to hit the first fly hatches.

A guest at The Ranch at Rock Creek enjoys fall fly fishing amidst beautiful changing leaves

Please join us on Instagram using the hashtag #legendarywest to see the seasons as they change along the Legendary West Route du Bonheur. If you’re looking for a wilderness celebration of your own, come celebrate the holidays with us!


Interested in learning more? Watch the newest Relais & Châteaux Career video featuring The Ranch at Rock Creek.