About the Ranch
Creek Ranch is Florida the way it used to be. Quiet. Natural. A paradise for birds and wildlife. It sits on 1,400 sprawling acres right on Lake Hatchineha, the northernmost lake in the Everglades chain. Lovingly owned by the same prominent Atlanta family for over fifty years, it is just now being made available for private rental by families and other small groups. The ranch's Bunk House lodge and a nearby cabin can accommodate up to 14, more if the group includes young children.
Creek Ranch is in Haines City, which is not a city, or even a town, at all. It's nothing but wide open spaces. Less than an hour southwest of Orlando Airport and Orlando's amusement parks, Creek Ranch is tucked into an oasis of towering pines at the end of a meandering, half-mile-long private drive. The front porch of the main house looks out on verdant cattle-grazing fields and, beyond those, dense forest. Behind the house is a peaceful estuary leading into nine-mile long Lake Hatchineha.
Don't let the name fool you: Creek Ranch's "Bunk House" is neither small nor camp-like. It's the sprawling main house on the ranch, and its award-winning interiors are a wonderful combination of "Architectural Digest-level" sophistication, a rancher's warm bravado, fine art, and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. There are four large bedroom suites on two floors, each of them decorated uniquely, and each of the two floors has a convenient mini-kitchen for early morning coffee.
Also in the Bunk House is a fifth ensuite bedroom near the kitchen, possibly for an au pair or other guest staff, a charming kids' room with a trundle bed near the pool, and a spacious, whimsical "Bunk Room" with four single beds and its own den/recreation room.
Just a three-minute stroll or golf-cart ride from the Bunk House is the Cracker Cabin, an original, 100-year-old structure on the Ranch, in which there are three bedrooms and two baths.
Befitting a tropical vacation home, the Bunk House has loads of comfortable screened-in sitting and dining areas. Guests often choose to eat their meals in the large porch facing the lake, as the breezes are plentiful. There's a stunning living room with the owner's diverse art collection, two dens for casual relaxing and TV, a study with computer and a cozy, screened cooking porch. Closer to the lake, on an inlet that yields the most wonderful sounds of the rich birdlife, is the screened Boat House; it's perfectly suited to pre-dinner cocktails.
This is an outdoors-lover's place. Having said that, the outdoors can be enjoyed as much by a rocking chair-bound reader as by a guest whose "relaxation" comes from non-stop activity. One thing is for certain - Creek Ranch is for kids of all ages. From the stables, under the guidance of two lifelong Creek Ranch "cowboys", there's horseback riding for all levels of riders. In Lake Hatchineha, and in the several ponds on the ranch, there's fishing, as well as canoeing.
For those needing more excitement and speed, there's the airplane-engine-powered airboat, which skims across the top of the lake and marshes, taking the guest into worlds of rich wildlife and rare birds; this, after all, is the headwaters of the Everglades! Or, guests can enjoy a more leisurely pontoon boat ride, particularly nice for cocktails at sundown.
There's also the gentleman's pastime of skeet shooting (fun for all ages and BOTH genders by the way), guided 4 x 4 Jeep tours, mountain bike riding. And, because of the ranch's location adjacent to protected wetlands, there is a plethora of animal and bird life on land -- wild Osceola turkey, deer and, though not often seen, wildcats and panthers!
We can't imagine why anyone would leave the Ranch, but if they MUST, there is Disney World and the other Orlando-area amusement parks just an hour away, shopping trips to Palm Beach, a day beach excursion, or golf at one of several championship courses within a half hour.
Since this is someone's cherished home, it is natural for dining experiences here to feel like home. Unless requested otherwise, the Ranch chef and staff will assume a preference for informality, including buffets served on the screened porches or at one of the most popular venues, the farm table in the oversized family kitchen.
For those who wish more formal settings, there is the main dining room with Limoges Gien china, fine silver and crystal, and European linens; in fact, the family has over one dozen fine place setting from which to choose. Food is indigenous with fresh fish from Lake Hatchineha, fresh produce and herbs from the Ranch's own organic gardens, the Ranch's own grass-fed cattle. For game lovers, there's wild boar, wild turkey and quail using old family southern recipes.
Rates and Other Details
The daily rate at Creek Ranch includes all meals and drinks, and all activities on the property. Families or small groups of between four and fourteen guests (more if there are children) can have exclusive use of the entire property, to be shared with no other guests. The first week of each month, as well as in July and August, individual accommodations at the Ranch can be rented, to be enjoyed with a small number of other guests. At all times and for all guests, staff gratuity is 5% and local taxes are 12%.
For more information about Creek Ranch or to inquire about a reservation, call Sanctuare at (800) 225-4255 from the U.S. and Canada; from elsewhere, call (802) 457-5280. Or e-mail us at email@example.com.