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“The Perfect Adult Family Vacation” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Vista Verde Guest Ranch

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Vista Verde Guest Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
Excelsior, Minnesota
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“The Perfect Adult Family Vacation”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 1, 2013

We have four adult children (20s and 30s) in three different states so the best way to spend time together is to take a vacation. We have taken 5 cruises with them (my husband and I have cruised 12 times) and thought that was the best family vacation - until we all came to Vista Verde. After being at VVR twice as a couple, we invited the kids last September. It was beyond everyone's expectations and the perfect family vacation. Staying in one amazingly gorgeous cabin allowed us family alone-time, the meals/food/drink exceeded everyone's expectations, and the days on the trail herding cattle were so fun. Larry and I did not expect our kids to love it as much as we do, but they did and they all want to come back next September! The staff is wonderful, attentive, personable, caring and so talented. We can't wait to return next fall. It has spoiled us for any other type of vacation and it's the only place our kids want to go.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Barbfos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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160 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Spokane, Washington
Level Contributor
51 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 14, 2013

My sisters and I went to VVR last year for the first time. We were so in love with the place we couldn't wait to return. We came with our girlfriends this year and The trip did not disappoint! We had the best time. The location is beautiful and the accommodations are 5 star gorgeous. I cannot say enough good things about the staff. They are some of the most genuinely friendly and talented, intelligent and motivated young people you will ever meet. We had so much fun with all of the guides who spent time with us as we skied, rode horses and enjoyed every activity VVR offers. The food is amazing. Once you arrive, everything is taken care of for you. All you have to do is enjoy your vacation of a lifetime. I will be back soon. Happy Trails!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Chibi1956
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Waterford, VA
Level Contributor
105 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 27, 2013

Hard to describe such a wonderful trip - so much to say! We went to Vista Verde 6 years ago (Feb 2007) with our 2 young children. This time (Feb 2013) we decided to leave the kids with my in-laws and go with 2 other couples to celebrate my 50th birthday. Either way - w family or friends - Vista Verde is a magical place that doesn't disappoint.

This is an all-inclusive resort ranch. As others have already said, you can do many outdoor activities or relax at the beautiful ranch while wanting for not. It is so peaceful to be out of the hustle & bustle of the world for a few days with sparkling snow (in our case since we went in the winter) and beautiful horses all around. And though it doesn't come cheaply, it's worth every penny. You will have a most memorable experience no matter what you choose to do at this high-end ranch. We hope to go back in the summer next time for some fishing & mountain-biking.

In our 3 days (4 nights) at the ranch we managed to go back-country skiing, skate-skiing, classic XC skiing, snow-shoeing, tubing, horseback trail ride and dog-sledding (off the property). We shared many laughs and had heavenly meals as well.

Dinners at the ranch are done either as formal meals (kids go off with the kid-wranglers) w/o the staff or informal (buffet style) with staff joining you at your table. You can eat with other guests if you choose - or not. It's a very friendly & welcoming atmosphere while still maintaining it's rustic elegance. Some nights they offer after-dinner entertainment. While we were there, they had a "cowboy" concert (w 4 of the staff members singing/playing guitars), a game night & dessert in the "great room." Again all of it was fun & memorable.

Breakfasts and lunches are often buffet style as well, with additional items that can be ordered off the menu. The food is excellent! My particular favorites were "the great" (a mushroom/grain stew) served at the buffet one night, the lobster trio, the chocolate dessert selections on Valentine's Day and the granola & fruit - so many choices! - at breakfast. My friend loved the trout at lunch one day so much that she ate part of her husband's and ordered a 2nd portion on top of that! The only item we didn't enjoy was the chicken one night b/c a couple pieces were undercooked. And the coffee could have been a bit stronger. But out of 11 meals to have only one or two mediocre items, is pretty darn good! All of the meals & drinks - even 2nds ordered - are included in the price.

As far as choosing the activities, you go to the cocktail hour (wine & hors d'oevres) in the great room of lobby at 6pm and talk to the staff about the next day to plan your activities. Essentially you sign up in small groups or private lessons with available staff members for the following day. Then at 6:30 the dinner bell is rung & dinner served. That has changed from 6 years ago when you decided at breakfast what the day's plan would be. It's run very efficiently and your guide knows who he/she will be leading when you go to meet them at the Nordic Center, barn or elsewhere. All the guides are great but we spent the most time with Brandon and Jess. Brandon offers a wealth of information on winter survival and nature - e.g., he even talked to us about the differences between moose & elk dung & why you see more moose than elk in the area in winter. Jess was energetic & friendly and very patient with us middle-aged folks! She often stopped to take pictures of us. None of the guides ever made us feel rushed or like they wished they were someplace else. A tough job to do when you are dealing with tourists day-in and day-out.

If you want to do a more extensive trip - such as an all-day back-country ski, that is an option too. They drive you to the venue (e.g., National Forest or Wilderness Area) and pack lunches & snacks for you. They cater each adventure to your group's abilities - i.e., never make it beyond any member's ability & always keep it safe. That being said, it always feels like an exciting adventure even when you know you are in excellent hands.

Additionally, the Nordic Center is open for use of the equipment at your leisure. For instance, if you have been tubing but aren't quite ready to go back to your cabin to rest and want to get in a little XC-skiing on the groomed trails (of which there are many miles!), you can make use of the skis, boots & poles the guides helped you pick out (i.e., sized for you) at the beginning of your stay or someone is usually available to help you find equipment if you're not sure what size, etc. you need.

I can't comment too much on the riding/stables because that is not my thing - though some members of our group did a trail ride and loved it! But I do know since we were there the first time they have built a beautiful new indoor ring and some new barns (for the yearlings).

I hate to even mention any negatives, but since this is a review, I will mention the few tiny complaints I have.

1) Occasionally it feels like some guests get treated as "members of the club" while others do not. That is probably due to the nature of the business - the ranch gets many repeat travelers and perhaps friends of friends. So of course those guests might appear to be "extra special" & this aspect may not be something that can be fixed. However, if each guest can be made to feel he is as important as the next, perhaps that would serve to improve on an already outstanding experience!

2) While we were there, we drove ourselves to & from the resort & to the dog sledding at a busy time (President's Day week), which helped the resort free up staff for other guests. In other words, they had more staff available to bring other guests on outdoor activities or take them to & from the airport because we drove our own car. While we could have requested rides instead of using our own car, we didn't mind driving and being helpful. However, I didn't feel the management adequately recognized the fact that we essentially helped other guests "get more for their money" so to speak by driving our own vehicle. To his credit, Steve (now a guide manager?) did offer to give us gas money. So I guess what I would have appreciated in addition is a verbal note of thanks or something to that effect - but maybe he told my husband who didn't inform me.

3. Though advertised, skate-skiing lessons were not available during the the time-slots I had open and that was one of the things I wanted to do most. I did get to skate-ski but could have used a refresher lesson as I am just an advanced beginner. I found out later that one guide was available to teach skate-ski lessons. Had I known that, I would have rearranged my schedule to take lessons with her. I understand that the main skate-ski teacher had guests visiting that weekend, but I was disappointed that they were not an option for me or that I was not made more aware of when those lessons were available during my stay. In spite of the ranch sending information ahead of travel & asking what guests want to do the night before the next days' activities, it is still sometimes confusing to guests what options are available and what are not. Perhaps in addition to asking what guests want to do the night before, they should leave a list of options available at what time slots during their stay in the room beforehand so guests have more specific information ahead of time (not just a list of anything they might be able to do at some time during their stay, but a specific list of the activities they can actually do based on available staff at each time slot). They post a general list & then after you sign up they put a list on a board in the great room of who's doing what the next day, but I still found the sign-up process confusing and wasn't always sure from what options I could actually choose. In the ranch's defense, my husband did hound us to choose what we wanted most to do ahead of travel time. I did not have a chance to get to that before leaving, so perhaps the problem was with me.

4. Finally, Wifi & cell reception are lacking. While this is a positive aspect for many reasons - you truly get away from it all - it can be a bit frustrating when you are trying to connect with your children or caretakers of same. On the other hand, there is a little bit of cell phone reception in spots at the ranch. In addition they offer a land-line phone booth from which you can make a call pretty much anywhere free-of-charge. But you have to plan those calls when you have free time - which isn't much b/c they keep you active! Additionally there is wifi reception in the great room but it is often spotty. They do offer a laptop for use. If you plan to go there to get a lot of work done in between outdoor adventures, you may be disappointed. But if you truly want to get away from it all, including TV, then this is the place to do it!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank HerbyD428
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
johnstown, PA
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 25, 2013

Winter dreamland. Unparalleled costumer service, fabulous accommodations . Winter Activities for every taste. They even washed our car!? Would revisit in a second. Amazing scenery. High quality gear. Far exceeded expectations.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank plannedone
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 23, 2013

Living in Australia snow is not apart of our lives, so on our first family holiday to America we really wanted a white Christmas. I had always wanted to stay on a ranch and spent many hours on the internet searching for one that would be just right for us. I sent of a email to Vista Verde and the next morning Steph had replied answering all my many questions. Stephanie and Melissa were so helpful and patient answering all my MANY questions and were always prompt in their replies which is important.
It's one thing to see pictures on a website but to see this place in person is like nothing else. I said to one of the other guests when we were there that a picture truly doesn't do the ranch justice. We were picked up in Hayden by Rob, who was so friendly and a source of knowledge on the area.
I decided on the Hinman Cabin, and it was perfect. Master bedroom downstairs and 'kids' retreat upstairs which they loved. Log fire, snacks and drinks supplied in the cabin on arrival were a real treat.
I'm not a huge fan of kid's clubs but I have had my mind changed! The first full day we had the kids went off to the kid's cabin in the morning, we saw them at lunch then they ran back to spend the afternoon there! They had a ball and had so many activities planned for them. The girls who run the club are great, my kids especially loved Ashley.
Now the horses. Having not riden much we were all a little nervous, but after the 2hr horse clinic we did on the first day we all learnt so much and have much more confidence. John, Reid and Nate were amazing with young and old and are truly a asset for the ranch.
Food. Oh My Goodness. We have never eaten so well. The food was amazing, each meal just got better and better. Our Christmas Day lunch was out of this world including a waffle station! The staff were so friendly and helpful, Jess and Bubba to name a couple.
Steve and Kelli and the staff at the nordic cabin were fantastic. My husband took a long back country ski with them one day and loved it. We did a shorter on as a family on Christmas Day and had a ball.
The ranch dogs Dodger (our favourite), Rosie and Tropper were so friendly. My kids have pictures of the dogs in their rooms they loved them so much.
Have to make mention as well of Ben who is the General Manager. He is so friendly to all guests and goes out of his way to make everyone feel at home. You can tell that he and the rest of the staff don't think of this as a job, they all seem to throughly love the enviroment for which they live and it shows.
This was truly a trip of a lifetime for us. We went to Disney and NYC before heading to the ranch and when people ask us what place we loved the most we all say THE RANCH.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank luna28_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
newark ohio
Level Contributor
46 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 20, 2013

Boy this place has it all together! lets start at the beginning!
Make a reservation online then a follow up phone calls with Stephanie and Melissa! easy to work with, informative, and ever to fulfill my vacation dreams!
We flew into Hayden which is easy and close to the ranch. Alan picked us up and drove to the ranch in the SUV.
We stayed at Vista Verde Jan 9-15 2013 in the Little Agnes cabin, during adults only time. the cabin was lovely and beyond my expectations in comfort, class, luxury furnishing, cozy and romantic. We had a hot tub on the snow covered deck with 2 log chairs to sit on in the afternoon and enjoy the ranch. We had a refrigerator that was. Magically refilled with drinks and snacks everyday. We had a bottle of Champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate the first evening we were at the ranch. The king size bed was so comfortable with a huge down comforter and saddle bad decorative pillows we slept like babies! The cabin had 2 floors with another bed upstairs with 2 large windows looking out to the ranch property. The cabin had two bathrooms so it was nice for metro take a bath and get ready for the day and my hubbie to shower downstairs. It was nice to spread out my clothing upstairs on the bed. We enjoyed the wood burning stove with plenty of seasoned firewood every day! that wood really burns quickly and is not at all smokey in the cabin. They do not have a tv or wifi in. The cabins and at first I thought I would miss it but looking back I am so glad they did not have it in the cabin as my hubbie would have done work on his laptop in the cabin! Which is not what I had planned on doing! wifi and a large screen tv is available in the main lodge. My cell phone worked fine in the cabin as long s I was standing near the window, we have Verizon service. The housekeeping staff were very stealth and we never saw them! We went to breakfast and upon returning they had the place all cleaned up! Everywhere you looked attention to details is obvious! the VVR engraved in the stone near the entrance, belt buckle buttons on the bed pillows, to the fluffy bathrobes I could not ask for anything more in a winter cabin! My hubbie loved the views from both bathrooms no reading material needed for this trip to the toilet! Haha
The food was great and the staff in the dinning room warm and helpful from Bubba, Jessica, Sally, Cholly, David and all the others whose names I forgot! They have 3 breakfast choices daily along with the fresh fruit, homemade pastries ( the cinnamon rolls with orange glaze were to die for) eggs, potatoes and breakfast meats. My hubbie had the French toast one morning and it was the best I have ever had! Made with homemade bread and a bit of comma on.
lunch was often causal with the staff which was fun to get to know the wonderful young people from all over the country. Some lunches two entires were offered or they had a buffet with 3 choices and a delicious dessert. oh don't miss the cookie jar at the bar which is filled daily witha different kind of homemade cookies... Peanut butter was my favorite.
dinners were either formal, meaning you eat with other guest and have three choices for entree or casual with staff and buffet. We met some wonderful guest and entertaining people which was part of the appeal for us. We met honeymooners from Texas, travelers from France and Wales to a single girl looking for some "me time" away from her busy DC life. I loved the scallops, elk loin and fish meals. The food is something you would get at a five star restaurant with personal service! The staff want to please you so speak up if you want something different that is being served!
I hoped to be calorie neutral for the week! As we ate like pigs but worked most of it off with the activities.
Activities! We tried back country skiing with Steve, Shannon and Rob. We have down hills kind but this was a new adventure. I loved the woods, river and mountainside. I enjoyed Rosie the dog coming on our trips with us. What hoot to watch her romp through the snow looking for mice ect!
The ski trips were planned acceding to what your physical level was and your interest. It was very cold and I mean 20 below but the bright blue sky made it doable! we did purchase some great outdoor pants made by Sherpa in the Nordic center which were perfect for our skiing trips.
Trail ride was a lot of fun but I was hopping to go into the woods on horseback but now I understand the horses can not do that as it was too dangerous with the footing and deep snow. We did a photograph class with Karla which was very informative and she taught us a few easy tricks which improved our outdoor photos. We attendee a cooking class with Cholly and Dave learning about homemade pasta and ravioli. We did a sleigh ride one evening with John which was romantic. We spent one day in Steamboat down hill skiing. Brandon tok us and picked us up right on time. We saw a heard of elk on the way bak to the ranch. It was a 44minute drive to the city. steamboat is a cute little western city with shopping and places to eat. The skiing was fabulous with no one at the mountain! So uncrowned. We spent one afternoon tubing and rider in up the hill on snowmobiles. Which was a blast! My hubbie tried track skiing and snow shoe. The staff and guides are friendly, knowledgeable and down to earth! Try something new while at the ranch! We did a horse clinic and learned a great deal from John and Reed. We did not get to know Terry but understand he is the Horse whisperer.
The cowboy sing along was fun and Reed is talented that's for sure! John is the cutie playing the drums and do not grow another mustache!
Ben the General manager is also a minister and it is obvious in how he runs the ranch with honesty, integrity and a love for is fellow man in all he does.
Everything about this place is top notch!
This ranch is beautiful, special and a real treat for all the senses. come and see why so many guest are repeat guests! I am planning on visiting with my sisters next year! And I can't wait. I can't stop talking about this place to family and friends! I should be a advertisement for the place!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Karekey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 26, 2012

We recently finished another wonderful and memorable vacation at Vista Verde. I can't say enough good things. The setting, scenery, accommodations, food and drink, activities, and staff are all fantastic. Everything about Vista Verde is first class all the way.

You are probably looking at reviews here because you are thinking a vacation like this might be fun - it absolutely is. For us, it is a complete departure from our everyday lives, and we get swept up in the experience. Somehow you hit on Vista Verde as a place that might be a good choice - it absolutely is. Every part of the operation, and your guest experience is dialed in. I can't imagine any other comparable place does it as well.

I did a lot of research before we chose Vista Verde the first time, and three things differentiated this ranch from most others. 1.) Most all the activities are accessible on or very near the ranch. At other places more travel was required to get to and from the activity sights. 2.) At many other ranches the activity agenda is pre-planned and inflexible. All guests participate together, in the same activities at the same time. Here, there is a guideline agenda, but because they have so much staff, and the staff is so multi-talented, you have more control in choosing what activities to do, when. 3.) Vista Verde may appear expensive compared to other choices - it absolutely is not. A trend in the industry is to offer "all-inclusive" vacations, but some are more "all-inclusive" than others. Vista Verde is much more "all-inclusive" than most - no nickel and diming here. That means you don't spend your week worrying about mounting costs.

I hope this review helps you decide to take a chance on Vista Verde. I am confident you will not be disappointed.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Stepstool1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Property: Vista Verde Guest Ranch
Address: 58000 Cowboy Way, Clark, CO 80428
Phone Number:
Location: United States > Colorado > Clark
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Specialty Lodging in Clark
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Vista Verde offers a diverse selection of activities making it more than just a riding ranch. Summer: hiking, rock-climbing, mountain biking and fly-fishing, trail riding and lessons. Winter: skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and snowy horseback rides. Secluded cabins feature private hot tubs and wood stoves, with gourmet dining, wine tasting and cooking classes adding to the experience. Creative childrens' program makes it enjoyable for everyone, with special times set aside for adult only escapes ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Vista Verde Guest Ranch Hotel Clark
Vista Verde Guest Ranch Clark, Colorado

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