Team-Building at Colorado Guest Ranches

By Beth Buehler

Guest ranches in Colorado are uniquely positioned to offer team-building activities that provide a fun taste of the West and unite groups in a way that keeps attendees engaged and enthusiastic. Instead of wondering “When will this be over?” the question will be “What’s next?” 

Destination Colorado checked in with Brady Johnson, director of sales and marketing of C Lazy U located near Granby, to find out about team-building options at a guest ranch, tips for planners and reasons why it’s an important item on a meeting itinerary. C Lazy U is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2019.

What percentage of corporate-type groups that stay at C Lazy U are seeking team-building options?

Almost every group that stays at C Lazy U Ranch desires a team-building component.  Our property lends well to this because all our meals are served family style, there are no TVs in the guest rooms to escape to and avoid person-to-person contact, all activities are done in groups, and all groups are encouraged to get outside and enjoy all that Colorado has to offer.

Team-building outside can be just as productive as meetings.

Would you say that number is up or down over past years and why?

The number is pretty consistent from what we’re seeing, but people are specifically seeking us out for a team-building experience. It is very rare to have a group that only does meetings here.

Colorado guest rooms also have great spaces for meetings like the Latino Room at C Lazy U.

What types of team-building activities do you offer?

Ropes course, zip line, archery, hatchet throwing, trap and BB gun shooting, fire building, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, guided hiking and mountain biking, fly fishing and horseback riding. A very popular event is the Amazing Race, where we will take 5 or 6 of the above events and tie them together into a team-building contest. We break groups into smaller teams of four to eight people, they compete in the above activities for a common goal, and at the end we award the top three teams. Our groups love the Amazing Race, and it’s our number one activity.

Which team-building activities are especially popular as Colorado experiences?

Horseback riding in the mountains is extremely popular and a huge draw. Fly fishing is also very popular right now.

Sharing a trail ride through the mountains can be life changing.

Why is Colorado a great destination for meetings that incorporate team-building?

Colorado has it all: an international airport, a thriving metropolis in Denver, and outdoor adventure within hours from all of this. It’s easy to get to, beautiful and has all the fun activities, plus it’s sunny all the time. It’s the perfect mix.

What are a few things that meeting/event planners need to think about when booking team-building activities for their groups?

Meeting planners should always seek out destinations that offer team-building as a component of their experiences or locations that work with local activity providers. Coordinating and fulfilling team-building events is complicated and takes a ton of planning and labor to be successful. Just because they say they have team-building, doesn’t mean it’s going to be a good activity or experience.  

It’s also important to make sure you truly understand the logistics, such as how far away is the activity, how long does it take, will people get hungry and thirsty, etc. All these things are important in pulling off a great team-building event.

Team-building activities don’t have to be elaborate or adventurous.

What sizes of groups can you provide team-building for?

Our property is typically working with groups of 10 to 80; this is the size range where we are set up for success with offerings on the ranch.

Why is team-building a worthy item to include on a meeting itinerary?

The daily grind of work is very monotonous. If you carry that to an off-site event, the retreat will likely be forgotten like the last couple of Mondays in the office. If you give your team something to remember, they will remember it.  There are scientific studies that the likelihood of people remembering the important topics in meetings is higher when surrounding them with peak experiences.

Team-building may mean trying something new!

Why are guest ranches uniquely poised to offer team-building options?

Guest ranches are secluded so you can get people’s attention by getting them away from the office, their problems and the noise surrounding them. Most guest ranches, including ours, have internet but no TV. Instead, they encourage people to go outside.

Guest ranches have endless outdoor activities that bring the kid out of you. The experience is different and gets you out of your comfort zone, which is a key piece to successfully building bonds between people. Whether that’s riding a horse, hiking to the top of a mountain, learning to fly fish or reflecting on the day while sitting around a roaring campfire, the experience is going to be new and unique to most. It’s way different than most people’s day-to-day.

Zip lining with views of C Lazy U and the surrounding wilderness.

What other team-building options are available in Grand County, Colorado?

Whitewater rafting is awesome, and there is great fly fishing all over Grand County. Hot air ballooning, mountaineering, downhill skiing … there are so many fun things to do, it’s somewhat endless!

All photos are courtesy of C Lazy U.

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.