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The Short Version: In such a digitally connected society, it’s nice to go somewhere you and your special someone can get away from it all. The team at Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado takes pride in helping couples unplug and unwind. Whether you choose to visit in the winter or summer, the ranch offers many outdoor activities, and it’s a wonderful setting for proposing, eloping, or honeymooning. That’s why Vista Verde Guest Ranch has earned our Editor’s Choice Award as a top romantic destination.
It’s the end of another dreamy day at Vista Verde Guest Ranch, and you’re finishing a cocktail after eating a delicious meal, when your partner asks, “What’s the plan for tomorrow?”
Stephanie Wilson, Director of Hospitality at Vista Verde, located just north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has heard that conversation countless times. One of the best parts about the ranch, she said, is that it provides many different answers to the question.
“One person may want to sleep in, get breakfast, read a book in the hot tub, and then do a wine tasting in the afternoon,” Stephanie told us. “The other person may want to go in a totally different direction, and they can.”
Outdoor activities at Vista Verde include hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, and even wild yoga, which is held on platforms in the woods accessible by a horseback ride.
“We also do cooking classes, photography workshops, and paddleboarding,” Stephanie said. “Whatever you’re into, there’s something for you.”
Vista Verde wants guests to connect with each other, not their laptops or mobile devices, which is why wifi is limited to the main lodge area. That helps the team facilitate conversations between people and makes the resort a popular spot for a romantic getaway, honeymoon, or an intimate elopement or proposal.
All-inclusive packages are available at Vista Verde, so you won’t have to keep pulling out your wallet while you’re there, and high-end dining options cater to many different tastes.
“We keep the quality high and stay on top of the facilities to keep everything looking and feeling beautiful,” Stephanie said. “We’re always looking for ways to make the guest experience even better.”
For its atmosphere that encourages couples to bond with each other in nature, Vista Verde Guest Ranch has earned our Editor’s Choice Award.
This historic property dates back to 1916 when two owners claimed it through the Homestead Act, which encouraged settlement in the West by offering lands at low cost. Through the years, the property changed hands, but the passion for outdoor living remained.
In 1975, the owners turned the property into a ranch with guest cabins, which have seen substantial renovations since. The owners then focused on improving the guest experience, with beautiful landscaping, a new lodge, and an emphasis on creative food and good wine.
The property changed hands again, this time to a family that again remodeled the cabins, added a swimming pool, created a great room in the lodge and built a kid’s hut. Laura and Chris Jones purchased the property in 2016, with a vision for continuing the excellence created over the years.
“Two families started it back in 1916, and it’s been family-owned ever since. It’s changed families, but it’s always been a family operation. So even though it’s a big place, it’s upscale and has been written up in reviews. It’s always been a place that is close to people’s hearts,” Stephanie said. “That is evident when you’re here. You feel that very much.”
The ranch prides itself on supporting an interactive and friendly staff that seeks to add to the ambiance. Employees are passionate about the outdoors and want to share it with guests, which often means helping them break away from technology.
“The biggest message we’re trying to share is to slow down and disconnect because real relationships are the most important things,” she said. “We put a lot of emphasis on relationships here because we’re all together on this journey.”
While a handful of weddings take place at the ranch, it is better known as a welcoming host of honeymooners, eloping couples, empty-nesters, and busy professionals who are making time in their lives to be with the ones they love.
“For couples, it’s a great place to try a new experience together. Or they can do different things: Sometimes we’ll have a couple, where one is a hardcore hiker, but the other just wants to fish. And everybody can do what they want to do and come back together and enjoy a sumptuous dinner together,” Stephanie said.
The ranch isn’t a spot for raucous partying. Stephanie said big nights might include some live music with dancing that wraps up around 9 p.m. The wifi barely reaches out to the cabins, so guests are discouraged from staying in their rooms and scrolling through social media. Instead, evenings can be spent with that special someone.
Most weeks in September and October, the ranch is for adults only, which makes it even more attractive for couples who want a quiet escape. In the earlier part of the summer, solo travelers and families also find that the Vista Verde Guest Ranch is a perfect spot for a holiday.
The ranch cabins are standalone buildings, ranging from one to four bedrooms, and each has a hot tub on the deck. A few rooms are within the main lodge, which is a more economical option, or a more social location for solo travelers.
“They’re beautiful rooms, and you have a gorgeous great room right downstairs. You can read a book or drink coffee in the morning, and you have the place for yourself,” she said.
Vista Verde Guest Ranch differs from many other getaways because the team is so dedicated to making guests feel welcome. The resulting atmosphere also means guests often strike up conversations with each other that can lead to friendships.
“People tend to think of it as a romantic vacation where you isolate yourself, but this is unique in that it’s social and fun,” Stephanie said. “They have fun with other couples. One time, we had three honeymoon couples here at the same time, and they did everything together.”
Because proposals and elopements are popular at Vista Verde, Stephanie said the team ensures the setting is perfect. That’s easy around Christmastime, when the sleigh rides, Christmas bells, chocolates, and music are “straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting,” according to Stephanie.
“We’ll take them for a sleigh ride, and we’ll stop for lunch at a really special place for him to pop the question,” she said. “Then there’s a stashed champagne bottle in the saddle bag. It’s an honor. It’s a big deal when people choose to propose, get married, or having their honeymoon here. We feel the responsibility of making it amazing for them. We’re helping launch them off into marriage.”
Stephanie told us that she often sees people chiming in on Facebook or other social media channels about having met new friends or having a memorable experience at the ranch.
“It’s humbling, and it inspires us to make it amazing for these people. It’s just so fun,” she said. “All these lives we helped to kick off — it’s really neat.”