I always try to use points and miles to stay at hotels for free, but there’s a small list of specialty accommodations that you must pay cash to stay at. I’m talking about unique experiences that typically fall outside hotel loyalty programs such as a farm stay or a lodge inside of a national park. But now I have to strike one unique lodging experience off of that list, as you can now stay in a real dude ranch on points.
Rawah Ranch in Colorado
Hyatt has a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels, and of its 520 properties, approximately 350 participate in the World of Hyatt program. And while there are dozens of incredible resorts in this collection, Rawah Ranch in Colorado stands out as the only authentic dude ranch available from any major hotel chain.
Rawah Ranch is located in Glendevey Colorado, within Laramie River Valley in the Rocky Mountains. Count on spending about a three and half hour drive to get there from Denver International Airport. Guests stay in one of just nine wooden cabins complete with rustic wood furniture, stone fireplaces and porches with rocking chairs.
But you don’t visit a dude ranch like this in order to sequester in your cabin all day. Instead, you’ll enjoy horseback riding through thousands of acres of wilderness including waterfalls, river crossings and aspen groves. And once you’ve spent enough time in the saddle, (or if horseback riding isn’t your thing), other activities include hiking through wildflower meadows, fishing for trout or enjoying a relaxing massage. The ranch offers archery and shooting, paddle boards and paddle boats, and even a children’s program. And in between all of your activities, you’ll enjoy gourmet meals prepared from scratch by the ranch’s in-house chef.
Booking a Stay at the Ranch
If you want to stay at Rawah Ranch, you have several options. You can always book your stay directly with the hotel, but you can also book it through Hyatt. Those who book through Hyatt can earn points on their stay and each night will qualify towards elite status. Hyatt also runs frequent promotions that can be very rewarding. For example, this summer Hyatt is offering 3x points on stays of two or more nights completed between July 20 and September 15 (registration required; it opens on July 7).
Stays at Rawah are currently $650 per person, per night. With all taxes and fees included, a three night stay for two guests will cost a total of $4,044. You also have to arrive either on Thursday or Sunday and stay three to six nights, which is not an unusual requirement for specialty accommodations like this.
That’s a steep price, but consider that your stay is all inclusive in ways that are different from your typical resort hotel. Not only are meals and drinks included, but so are twice daily horseback riding trips, access to the trap shooting and archery range, paddle boarding and stand-up paddle boarding, guided hiking, mountain biking and even a one half-day of professional guided fly fishing and all gear. And if you bring your children, the kid’s program is included as well. The only extra costs that you can expect are for additional days of guided fly fishing for $175 per person, and massage services. Guests over 18 years of age will also need to purchase a fishing license from the state of Colorado if they want to go fishing.
But the real value comes to those who book their stays with World of Hyatt points. In the World of Hyatt program, Rawah Ranch is considered to be a Category 8 property, which requires 40,000 points per night, making it 120,000 points for a three night stay for two guests. So if you’re paying with points, you’ll be receiving 3.37 cents in value per point redeemed, which is almost double the 1.8 cents per point that represents Slickdeals’ current average valuation. Just be sure to book award stays early as they are limited and the ranch is only in operation from June to September each year.
How to Earn World of Hyatt Points
Admittedly, 120,000 is a lot of points for a three day vacation, but considering you’ll likely have no other expenses once you get there, it could be a great use of your rewards. Obviously, you can earn World of Hyatt points by staying at Hyatt hotels, and you’ll earn five to six and a half points per dollar spent, depending on your status in the program. The World of Hyatt Card from Chase will offer you another four points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels, while granting you Discoverist status that gives you a 10% bonus on base points earned, for a total of at least 9.5 points per dollar spent. At Slickdeals’ nominal valuation of 1.8 cents per point, that’s worth just over 17 cents per dollar spent, which is quite remarkable.
New World of Hyatt card applicants can currently receive 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within your account’s first three months. You also can earn up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2x points per dollar spent within the first six months from account opening on purchases that normally earn one point, on up to $15,000 spent. This adds up to a total of up to 60,000 bonus points. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card.
The World of Hyatt is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred now, you can earn a big sign-up bonus after opening a card and meeting a few eligibility requirements. Another great Chase card that offers Ultimate Rewards points includes the Ink Business Preferred, which also offers new applicants a sizable sign-up bonus.
Finally, you can always pay for your stay at Rawah, or any other dude ranch, by redeeming Capital One Venture Rewards miles. New applicants earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on your card within 12 months of account opening, or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 within three months. You earn double miles on all purchases, and miles are worth one cent each as statement credits towards travel purchases. There’s a $95 annual fee for this card too.
The Bottom Line
If you’re ready to live out your dreams of horseback riding in the wild west, or you’d just like to have a luxurious and relaxing stay in the Rocky Mountains, Rawah Ranch could be just the thing you’ve been looking for. And if $4,000 is a little pricey for you, consider spending 120,000 World of Hyatt points instead, as it’s the only dude ranch in the world that you can stay at with hotel rewards points.