I have to admit, I was a little nervous for the week leading up to my stay at the Resort at Paws Up. Even though it IS a luxury experience, it’s still a dude ranch with a million activities that could seriously injure or break me, as clumsy and un-athletic as I am. Those characteristics aside, I’m the maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding next weekend and was strictly forbidden from doing anything that could lead to a broken bone.
I was sitting with travel friends the night before I left and I decided to read them the itinerary. I asked them to stop me when I reached an item they could see me doing. ATV riding – they shook their heads. Shooting sporting clays. Nope, no takers. Going on a cattle drive. Nothing. No one believed in me for any of these activities. 60 Minute Spa Treatment. “THAT’S IT!” they said – that’s the only activity in my list that they could even begin to imagine me participating in.
So I set out to prove them wrong!
Alongside one of the best familiarization groups I have ever had the pleasure of being thrown together with (great selection, Drew, on which agents to bring for this – and thank you again to the Paws Up team for hosting us!), I tackled each one of these items and had a blast in the process.
Day one we woke up bright and early to take out the ATV’s down a course that would run us along just a few of the 37,000 acres of land that Paws Up sits on. Usually in these scenarios, I’ll hitch a ride with one of the guides as I trust their ability to drive much more than I trust my own, but per the encouragement of my peers (read: harassment), I drove my very own ATV and LOVED IT.
That afternoon, we went sporting clay shooting, where I was given a teeny tiny baby gun so as not to leave bruises for next weekend’s wedding (I thought about our one-shouldered bridesmaids dresses and realized how quickly Kayla would kill me if I walked away with bruises similar to those the other agents are now sporting). With my little gun, I managed to hit a few clays and watch as the men (and a few of the women) showed us exactly how it was done. Bravo.
That evening, we celebrated Paws Up’s 10th anniversary with a live band and unbelievable food. I haven’t even touched on the dining experience, which has been out of this world, from our private dinner on night one alongside a rushing river to the celebration event – the dining is one thing that anyone can appreciate, regardless of how adventurous they are elsewhere.
The property feels like the ranch version of Blackberry Farm, in my opinion – strong emphasis on the local cuisine, a real reverence to the surrounding nature with the accommodations, fantastic service that feels warm and authentic, not to mention a serene setting just like the one I’m writing from. Currently, I’m sitting on the porch of a massive three bedroom cabin looking out across the rolling fields, dotted with sage brush and leading to the mountain ranges in the distance.
One of the coolest experiences here is the option of “glamping” – a term that people have thrown around for the past few years but you can’t even imagine what it means to Paws Up.
Glamping here is a tent from the outside, but upon entering the one-to-two bedroom accommodations, you can barely tell the difference between this and the inside of a 5 star hotel room. Especially the bathroom, which is out of this world.
Speaking of tents, even the spa is made up of them. The spa town is a row of little individual tents, all facing a breathtaking field without sacrificing any privacy. I enjoyed the best massage of my life (and I do not use that title lightly when it comes to a massage!) in this setting, enjoying the sounds of chirping birds and nature in the background – for once, the spa sounds did not need to be pumped through a speaker. The setting is as authentic as it gets!
I definitely needed a treatment after the cattle drive we went on in the morning. I learned very quickly that riding horses is just not my thing, especially when I was assigned a bit of a stubborn one. Little Rooster and I never quite jived since all he wanted to do was eat grass and all I wanted to do was get the heck off of him. In my own moments of stubbornness this morning (perhaps Rooster was a good fit for me, after all), I got to see firsthand just how attentive and kind the service is at Paws Up.
When Rooster was acting a fool and I had all but given up faith, one of the guides allowed us to pony up, whatever that means, and tied me to her so she could help walk us back the remainder of the way. She and I talked about her love for the horses and she said to me, “I definitely have a passion for the horses, but you can only train so many good horses – my passion is for the people, teaching them how to interact and work with our horses. That’s where you can see yourself leaving a legacy, in helping people.”
That single statement from a girl who has only worked here since Saturday so quickly reflected the attitude that I’ve seen in each and every one of Paws Up’s employees. From the former NBA player who now instructs on hatchet throwing (he helped me turn my elbow the proper way so as to “stick” the hatchet – no, I never quite got it) to the sporting clays guide who helped me discover that I was shooting with the wrong eye (huh? either way, that one change allowed me to actually hit a target), everyone here has such a vested interest in seeing the guests succeed and learn, never losing patience or missing a beat when it comes to serving and educating them.
Paws Up has certainly given me the confidence and perspective to say yes to challenges I otherwise would have avoided, and I think it is the perfect getaway for a multitude of travelers, from those who want to check off every activity with their entire family in tow, to those who want to relax for a few days in a place where time moves slower. No matter what you’re looking for here, you’ll find it – of that, I’m sure.
To begin planning your own getaway to Paws Up, fill out our Request a Trip form or email firstname.lastname@example.org!