Set deep in a verdant valley outside Steamboat Springs, Vista Verde Guest Ranch welcomes groups with a Hollywood-worthy lobby showcasing a towering stone chimney, old-fashioned metal chandeliers and massive hewn lumber beams. Right from the start, groups feel like they’ve entered a Wild West time warp.
Accommodations include nine log cabins, ranging from 1-bed/1-bath to 3-bed/3-bath, as well as three Lodge Rooms in the main building. Newly redesigned, the rooms feature Western art and handmade king beds. The cabins each include lodge pole pine beds,handmade log furniture, a sitting area with a wood-burning stove, and a hot tub on the deck.
For buyouts up to 30 pax, Vista Verde really shines for outdoor adventures and teambuilding activities. Think horseback riding, hiking, mountain climbing and fun campfire dinners.
“Our ranch is perfect for retreats,” says Stephanie Wilson, sales director. “I see people open up and relax more when they’re here than in a regular hotel. They open up better to each other.”
At Vista Verde, it all starts with the horses. Ranch trainers guide groups through easy trail rides that can end with a picnic lunch at destinations like Pearl Lake or the South Fork of the Elk River. During the cold winters, groups can ride inside the heated indoor riding arena.
And horseback riding isn’t just fun. It provides a powerful platform for stronger teambuilding and bonding experiences.
“How we communicate with horses is a great example of how to communicate with people. With horses, we have to speak their language, and learn how to simplify our commands and how to ask in varying levels of intensity. You can really translate that to people in many ways,” says Stephanie. “Thinking about communication in that way can get a group thinking about how they communicate, and how different team members react to different cues.”
During warmer months, groups can go hiking through trails with views of open meadows filled with rare wildflowers, trees and pines. These tours can start with kayaking and end with a catch-and-release fishing experience along the river. When it snows, these trails turn into ski or snowshoeing routes. And two hours way, groups can also try river rafting.
Dining at Vista Verde is also an event. At the ranch, groups can learn how to skin a fresh salmon, grill it to perfection, and finish with desserts garnished with fresh fruit and freshly-made whipped cream. The chef also gives cooking classes year-round.
“Food is a huge part of everyone’s lives, and I find it interesting to see how different people react to it, get excited about it, what interests them, hidden talents and passions,” says Stephanie. “It’s really a platform for deepening the relationship amongst a team, which leads to more appreciation for each individual…. You get just a touch of elegance that spoils you and sends you back to the real world refreshed.”