Family reunion planning can be tricky. Just picking a reunion destination spot can take time. I myself come from a large family and we’re lucky to have several amazing planners who handle our family reunions. Planning can be stressful and trying to find a perfect location which everyone will enjoy is a daunting task. Working at Red Horse Mountain Ranch for over a decade, I’ve come to know many of the challenges with family reunion planning.

However, it is a small price to pay for some of life’s most enduring memories. Sadly, I think ranches are not normally on a family’s radar as a destination spot. There are definitely some true advantages in picking a ranch for a family reunion. A ranch can streamline your family planning, control your budget, reconnect your family, and make sure each member has an amazing time. There are also a few ways to help you with costs.

A Ranch can streamline your planning. Typical family reunion planning starts 12-18 months in advance and it’s usually on the shoulders of one or a few individuals to begin the early planning phase. Besides the typical quirks in everyone’s family, the most common difficulties revolve around finding a convenient location, controlling costs, choosing dates, and making sure everyone has activities to keep them happy. Although the web has put a lot of information at your fingertips,  it can be somewhat tangled, formidable, and messy. Ranches tend to eliminate some of these barriers in planning a family reunion.

A Ranch can control your budget AND Reconnect your family.  Most ranches, like Red Horse Mountain Ranch, are all-inclusive. It’s typical a few auxiliary costs will come (such as souvenirs or an extra massage), but you should have total control over 95% of your costs. Most ranches aren’t like you’re typical all-Inclusive resorts; they don’t usually attempt to capture added revenues through nickel and diming you. Some ranches even include beverages and alcohol beverages. It’s usual that family members will never need or see their wallet throughout their entire stay at a ranch. Many things such as a wrist watch, cell phone, or other devices, quickly find the bottom of a suitcase. Everyone is usually scrambling to find all these devices when it’s time to head home. This is an important distinction between many other more public choices for a family reunion. If your goal is to re-connect and disconnect, a ranch setting by nature makes these items not necessary.

A Ranch will make everyone happy (even if they don’t think it will).  Family members whom have handled planning of a reunion will quickly agree the initial planning is one of the most important phases. Ranches tend to make this relatively easy. A ranch is typically on a schedule with certain days of arrival and departure. Their activities and guest adventures are also well developed to accommodate families with multiple desires. With a large list of guided and non-guided adventures, a ranch can accommodate numerous interests and age groups. Outdoor activities are also interactive and allow for true family time and conversations. Family members who have not had the opportunity for some outdoor activities may very much like the challenge or new adventure, especially while in the company of their family members.

Dietary Concerns and the Healthy Alternative. Dietary concerns or healthy food alternatives are more the norm these days than a special request and ranches have definitely embraced this. Working outdoors, maintaining a healthy herd of horses, and living where a trip to the doctor can mean being in a car for a two hour round trip requires conscientious diets. Most ranches, like Red Horse Mountain Ranch, can easily accommodate vegan, gluten-free, or other dietary needs. These menu items are usually part of the daily menu now on the ranch.

The Tough Part: Costs. A family will need to have a budget to use an all-inclusive ranch as their destination. However, there are advantages to never needing to cook or worry about menus or dietary concerns. Attempting to coordinate outdoor adventures in fifteen different directions is a big task; and finding a coordinated time to meet back up for meals is almost impossible. There are definitely benefits of having the ranch handle all these tasks and giving every family member time to focus on family. These additional benefits are hard to quantify when deciding on costs. Advance planning will give you the advantage of the best pricing and best dates to fit your family needs. For example, Red Horse Mountain Ranch released a new family reunion program allowing families to book the entire ranch 12-18 months in advance at a reduced rate. This unique program gives the family full control of the ranch and at the same time allows the ranch to budget their season as well. Another great tool is to visit the Dude Ranchers’ Association website and fill out and use the search for ranches feature.This provides you a quick and easy way to make contact and determine which ranch best fits your family’s desires; and it all happens with a single click.

Large scale resorts, cruise liners, or hotels just don’t offer the level of privacy a ranch can offer and these days it’s an important criteria. When we’re looking for reunion spots, we definitely give consideration to giving the kids a chance to roam and play. Ranches definitely offer this ability. Ranches may not be affordable every year for your family but it is one of those family reunion destinations you should consider. The Dude Ranchers’ Association has a varied mix of ranches and there’s more than likely a few that would fit your family’s needs.