Today, in our always on world of communications, you can travel to even remote 15,000-acre ranches in Wyoming and still stay connected.
Type-A personalities and workaholics might fear they'll miss a VIP conference call if they take a few days of R&R for some fly fising, horse back riding or just plain ole buffalo gazing out West. But even though cell phone reception can be spotty in the high altititude of the Rocky Mountains, you can still fit in emailing and Skype chat as exercises at newly wired-up ranches.
Take the Brush Creek Ranch, which opened just last summer for outside visitors, as an example. The ranch, some 75 miles west of Laramie and not far from the Colorado-Wyoming state line, has been outfitted as a cross between a boutique retreat and a fishing lodge.
It stands out as an example of this new approach to time off -- working vacations. The main lodge sports two business computers and a land-line phone, and cabins have high-speed wireless access, thanks to the area's first venture into fiber optic communications.
Not that everyone would travel to such a pristine place to plop themselves down in front of a glowing screen to stay in touch with business contacts. Most of the guests here can't find time to fit in all the sporty activities, which include archery, hunting and relatively calmer pursuits such as hiking and biking.
It's what you might expect from the owners Bruce White and his wife Beth, who understand what it's like to combine business and pleasure. In the hotel business for 26 years, White Lodging Services own and operate dozens of properties throughout the U.S., and are expanding.
The Whites, who hail from the Chicago area, bought the property in 2008 as a family getaway after offloading 100 hotels for $1.6 billion during the 2006 real estate peak. They invested millions into this historic ranch to turn it into a vacationer's western paradise, and have managed to bring a Midwestern style to the ranch. Beth, who is a model-thin beauty, brings a hands-out touch to the operation and can be found with guests at meals or out on the range, tagging along, for instance, to observe a buffalo hunt.
Extra-friendly hospitality extends from the operations management team led by the highly energetic and enthusiastic Mike Williams and Zach Sennett to the cleaning crew. During one of the late afternoon periodic downpours, two young staffers even rushed to bring an umbrella to the log cabin where I was staying so I could make it to dinner water-proof. By the way, the ranch serves up plenty of gourmet food and wine.
What's also unique about Brush Creek Ranch is its on-site saloon with live music and its artist camp. This retreat offers a small select group of musicians, writers and painters an escape from everyday life pressures and space to create works of art while living on the ranch.
On Friday evenings, guests can visit the artist's open studios and attend their performances in a schoolhouse-styled theatre. A nice touch is that locals from the nearby towns of Riverside (population 52, elevation 7,137) and Encampent (population 450, elevation 7,323) also are invited to come to the ranch to enjoy a little entertainment.