The hospitality world literally idolizes millennial travelers and their trends. They have changed the standards of accommodations and amenities. This generation expects different activity, cuisine, and service. However, dude ranches have always offered many of the confusing or even cryptic components of millennial travel. Let’s dig deeper into the good-time of an Instagramable dude ranch…
Millennials crave authentic, experiential travel over packaged or conventional travel. Nothing is more authentic than Western Dude Ranches and the nearly 100 different options of ranches in the DRA portfolio that offer everything from working ranches to luxury-based stays across the country and Canada.
Brand names are still important; however, access to unique, obscure, or even, first-ever sports and adventures are more on par with millennial travel trends than a more traditional three-night hotel stay. A bonus, many ranches such as White Stallion in Tucson, Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Eaton’s in Wyoming and Lost Valley Ranch near Denver, have an onsite concierge to not only assist with ranch activity, but nearby reservations and bookings, something that is still desirable in off-the-grid areas, or those not listed on the internet.
Millennials are not about wasting their vacation time and like to go full speed, and the DRA certainly offers up all these longings. Truthfully, it’s hard not to be productive on a ranch, even if that means relaxing. Dude ranches provide guests with a dozen or more activities daily, making for multiple adventure-days. This embodies a millennial attitude; why do one activity when you can have the option to do three? And, what if the three activities change daily? Think of all the adventures to be accomplished in a week!
Horseback ride in the morning, hike in the afternoon, and snag a trout come sunset, that’s a typical day at many Rocky Mountain ranches. Come winter in Idaho and Montana, imagine a fresh snowfall horseback ride after a gourmet breakfast, followed by ski journing, then lunch by the fire before afternoon sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing or sleigh rides, and the sun hasn’t even set!
Dude ranches have an adventure in every imaginable form, but many still have a reputation of pork and beans when it comes to food. Get out the silverware and set the table, because over two dozen of the ranches have won food and beverage awards.
Rawah Ranch, close to the border of Colorado and Wyoming, hosted one of the top millennial “athleisure” brands in the world for their version of The Last Supper. In planning their schedule, the Chicago-based organizer inquired if they could ask attendees about what their dream last meal would be. Then, the ranch’s chef would prepare each meal to specification, served with an intricate explanation. “That’s the thing at Rawah, there are no limitations on requests from fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to seasoned Cornish hen for BBQ night.
Latigo Ranch, another Colorado Ranch outside of Kremmling, has a family legacy of dessert. Spencer, the owner’s son, works his craft in the kitchen. “His desserts—they’ve become the stuff of legend in the last decade. Coffee crème caramel with a shortbread cookie, Vanilla-bourbon crème brûlée, served in a martini-chiller over shards of caramelized sugar, with a fresh, warm, house-made, yeast doughnut drizzled in Spencer’s own salted caramel sauce, and milk chocolate mousse in a sugar sphere. World-traveled guests have raved over its perfection.” Hannah, his wife adds, “Latigo is service. Our food is artistry. And the taste is out of this world.”
White Stallion Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, offers a patio utopia with and outdoor pizza oven and Tandoor—a cylindrical clay oven where heat is made by charcoal or wood to create a radiant cooking method—incredibly on-trend with the desire to know and see how your food is being prepared and cooked. Dinner is often served alfresco throughout the week featuring foods such as classic BBQ, brisket, pork tenderloin, steak, ribs, chuck roast, and locally-sourced vegetables. Steamship leg of pork, corn on the grill, produce skewers, wild rice, this is just a sampling of the gorgeously presented ranch food underneath the Tucson stars.
You don’t exist unless you have a website, well, that was 2014. Now, you need to have a social media presence and following to really attract the millennial traveler. With multi-generational ownership, millennials, of who have been raised on the ranches, are taking to social media and the authentic content has followings long after guests leave the ranch.
Cherokee Park Ranch (@cherokeeparkranch) has true rugged, seasonal images from the multiple generations that own and maintain the Colorado ranch. The millennial behind the campaign, Caree Prince (@careeoke), has her own following nearly 17K strong and loaded with Western wear, life, and landscape, authentic to her home daily activity, and it’s ragingly popular and constantly loaded with comments.
Triangle X Ranch, a historic ranch, in pristine Jackson Hole, runs five generations deep, and that’s their strategy. The engagement numbers on their Instagram (@trianglexranch) are some of the highest of all the dude ranches in the world! Nighttime skies, sunsets, and horses rack up hundreds of likes for each post.
The Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch (@thehideoutshellwy), east of Cody, Wyoming, also does a millennial-worthy job on their Instagram with sincere landscape from winter rides through feet of snow to cowboy sunrises and sunsets with the herd. Their remote location is the star of the photos with backdrops of dreams.
The DRA member ranches will provide working, traditional, and luxury dude ranch vacations for all types of travelers and guests. Different activity, cuisine, and service will set the new standard for millennial adventure travel. For more information or assistance in selecting the right dude ranch for you, contact the Dude Ranchers’ Association! With almost 100 years of experience and over 95 ranches to choose from, we will help find the right ranch for you!
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