When the meeting opens with the vice president of sales roping a calf, you know it’s not going to be your average day at work. It’s business as usual at Westgate River Ranch in Central Florida, about an hour south of Orlando. The dude ranch offers group meetings and events with a cowboy theme: private rodeos, teambuilding competitions and now a half-day cattle drive on
an open trail.
Lisa Williams, group sales director, says the cattle drive is meant to appeal to executives who want to work through a company challenge such as going after new business or resolving communication issues, “or they might just want to go out and have fun.” It’s limited to 12 riders—10 or fewer is preferred—for a tighter bond between participants. The cattle drive connects riders with the traditions of the first American cowboys, who started wrangling herds across Florida in the 1700s and became known as “crackers” for the way they cracked their whips.
“There’s a rich Florida history with the American cowboy,” Williams says. “People don’t realize it started here, not in Texas.”
The Westgate Resorts property is promoting the cattle drives to groups who want something different. “That’s the hot button,” Williams says. “Meeting planners want to get people out of their comfort zones.” Westgate hosts both business and leisure travelers, and if your group doesn’t feel at home on the range there’s plenty else to do: golf, tennis, swimming, a marina and lots more. Accommodations include “glamping,” the new style of “glamorous camping.”
Westgate has 10 meeting rooms, 4,500 sf of outdoor meeting space and 8,000 sf of flexible indoor space.-Kate McClare