Westgate River Ranch: An Unparalleled Florida Cowboy Experience

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On October 4-6, 2013, Westgate River Ranch is set for a “big reveal” of its new look at a grand re-opening. “We are looking forward to unveiling the new Westgate River Ranch in October,” says Mark Waltrip, CEO of Westgate River Ranch. “The new facility provides an unparalleled Florida cowboy experience for our guests and will be a catalyst to attract even more guests and major events to this hidden gem in Central Florida.”

Just one hour from Orlando, the River Ranch is a real Florida dude ranch set on 1,700 acres in Central Florida. Open year round, it puts a unique twist on the dude ranch experience, with Western-themed accommodations, horseback riding, and family-oriented activities, all on an a la carte basis. “We are the only guest ranch in Florida,” says General Manager Paul Robertson. “Our location in Central Florida is a huge benefit to our guests. The weather is fantastic, the travel is convenient, the culture is unique and there are endless things to do. Our guests are happy to spend all day on the ranch, but should they want to venture off to Disney, or hit the beach, they have that choice. In the community of guest ranches, Westgate River Ranch is truly one-of-a-kind in that aspect,” he adds.

Of course you can kick up your spurs with riding, hayrides, cookouts, and nature hikes, but there’s also a petting farm, trap and skeet shooting, golf, and swimming. And since this is Florida, you’ll also find boating, fishing, airboat and swamp buggy rides, plus a new zip line. Make sure to catch the Saturday night rodeo and the line dancing at the River Ranch Saloon. “We are not fundamentally different from other dude ranches,” contends G.M. Robertson. “We offer all the same attributes that families look to enjoy about a ranch experience anywhere in the country: hospitality, authenticity and access to the great outdoors. The story of the American Cowboy actually began in Florida in the early 1700s.”

At mealtimes, you choose from family-friendly options: the casual, laid-back Smokehouse Grill is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner; there’s the River Ranch Saloon, and the General Store for a quick bite. Westgate River Ranch is also popular for corporate meetings, family reunions, and special events. Lodging options abound, in the ranch’s 169 rooms, from cozy efficiencies to spacious two-bedroom cabins.

As for the perfect fall day? Just ask G.M. Robertson. “Wake up to a leisurely morning in your cabin overlooking the ranch. Have coffee and juice on the porch, while watching the buffalo and listening to the birds sing,” he notes. Then, Robertson suggests that the rest of the day includes choices of going for a horseback ride aor a tour on the airboat. Afterwards, test your skill at shooting trap and skeet. “After lunch, the parents can relax while the kids hang out with friends at the pool.” Later, head to the Petting Farm, then enjoy the hayride, outdoor BBQ dinner and watch the Saturday rodeo. “As the rodeo comes to close, the street party outside the Saloon begins. The whole family gets on the dance floor as the country music plays and the campfire is crackin’ and the ‘smores are toasting. It’s the best guest ranch family experience in Florida – and maybe anywhere else!”

What’s new: This fall, check out the multi million dollar upgrade; all accommodations, from the efficiency rooms to the two-bedroom cabins, get hardwood floors, new furniture, linens, and modern, stylish amenities. Adding to the variety of lodging is a new 10-unit ‘glamping’ site. “We’ve made a considerable investment to improve the amenities and lodging at the ranch which earned us Gene Kilgore’s 2013 “World’s Best Ranches” award,” notes Waltrip.

Details: There’s no minimum stay requirement and pets (under 60 pounds) are welcome. Rates vary by season, room type and package(s) chosen.
Fall also brings the best weather, so consider their new Camping Package (good for travel Oct 7 – Dec 19; $60 per night; includes campsite, access to shower/bathroom; one drink voucher, one activity voucher for either mechanical bull or zip line). Or check the River Ranch Fall Sale (40% Off Best Available Rate Sale; Book from 8/30/13 – 10/31/13 for Travel Dates: 8/30/13 – 12/19/13). For more, go to Ranchweb or www.wgriverranch.com.

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