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I stayed at a luxury ranch in Montana — and I didn't want to go home

Jan. 31, 2022
6 min read
A horse stampede at The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana.
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I took a step out of my comfort zone recently when my husband and I vacationed at a luxury ranch in Montana. Living in the Bay Area and not considering myself an outdoorsy person, I didn’t know what to expect — least of all how much I’d love it.

I tend to stick to what I know — like hotels with room service, on the beach or in a big city — and I try to stay at big-name hotels where I can redeem points for my stay. I was a little hesitant to spend time in an environment so different from what I was used to, but The Ranch at Rock Creek in Western Montana is part of American Express Travel’s Fine Hotels + Resorts® program. This includes certain perks, amenities and other familiar comforts.

I had such a great time in Montana that I’m already planning a visit for the same time next year to explore more of the state — next time with my kids in tow.

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Here’s how I spent three nights in the Montana wilderness at The Ranch at Rock Creek — and why I didn’t want to go home.

The amenities and perks

The Ranch at Rock Creek is not a part of any major hotel chain and thus doesn’t come with elite perks or benefits in the traditional sense. But because it is a Fine Hotels + Resorts property, our stay came with the following amenities when booked through Amex Travel using The Platinum Card® from American Express:

  • 12 p.m. early check-in, when available
  • Room upgrade on arrival, when available (some room categories are not eligible for upgrades)
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Experience credit worth $100 (eligible on purchases at the mercantile shop and at the spa)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Guaranteed 4pm late check-out

In addition, American Express Platinum cardholders can enjoy $200 back in annual statement credits for prepaid reservations at Fine Hotels + Resorts properties booked through American Express Travel when they pay with the Platinum Card.

The ranch has several accommodation options, including traditional hotel rooms, glamping cabins and luxury homes. Upon arrival, we were upgraded to the Cattail suite cabin, a two-suite luxury home perfect for families or friends traveling together. The two identical suites each featured one king bed and a daybed, a large bathroom with soaking tub, and double sinks. The living room was designed to be comfortable and inviting, with a wood-burning fireplace perfectly placed to encourage you to slow down and enjoy your time.

In addition to daily breakfast, dozens of activities are also included with your nightly rate when you stay at The Ranch at Rock Creek. However, I was still able to use our $100 experience credit for a massage in a Conestoga Wagon overlooking the creek. It was definitely a unique experience — and one I highly recommend.

Related: How Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts can land you elite-like benefits at top hotels

The ranch

The massive property is thoughtfully designed with guests in mind, with transportation options varying between bikes, golf carts and luxury SUVs to get around the ranch.

Daily breakfast for two is an included benefit with each Fine Hotels + Resorts stay, and at the ranch, all additional meals — and dozens of activities — are included in your nightly rate. And the meals were phenomenal. From slow roasted BBQ to a five-course dinner with spicy marinated scallops and homemade butterscotch pudding, every meal was excellent.

Guests can participate in activities like mountain biking, archery, horseback riding and fly fishing — all at no additional charge. I was pleasantly surprised at how meditative it was to fly fish in the creek. Our instructors (Patrick and Phil) taught us the rhythmic motion of casting our fishing line before letting us try for ourselves. They even told us about a company in San Francisco that we can fly fish with when we return home.

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

In addition to fly fishing, another must-do activity at the ranch is horseback riding. The horses are gentle and beautiful, and the wranglers are professional and knew exactly what to do to settle my nerves. Before my visit, it had been over eight years since I’d ridden a horse, and that particular experience was less-than-ideal. But I felt at ease for the entire experience at The Ranch at Rock Creek — and I look forward to an opportunity to ride again soon.

Why I didn’t want to leave

Travel is meant to take you away from your day-to-day life where you can enjoy experiences that you don’t usually get to have. Even though a luxury ranch wasn’t on my short list of places to visit, it gave me more of what I look for in a vacation than I thought it would.

The Ranch at Rock Creek brought me much needed peace and a break from the stress of the last several months. The weather in early September was perfect, the grounds were quiet, there weren’t that many guests — who all wore their masks properly — and we spent most of our time outdoors.

There’s something about nature that resets your senses, and I was sad when it was time to check out of our cabin and leave the peace that we’d experienced during our stay.

(Photo courtesy of Ashley Onadele/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

The Ranch at Rock Creek in Western Montana is an incredible place to visit, and my stay there was made even more special with the exclusive suite of benefits I received by booking through Fine Hotels + Resorts. The ranch is not part of a major hotel chain, but by booking our stay through American Express Travel, we enjoyed added benefits like a room upgrade and guaranteed 4pm late checkout that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Montana itself is so different from where I live but it was easy to relax and have the kind of vacation my husband and I were looking for. And while it was difficult to leave the ranch, we plan to return to Montana at the same time next year with our kids — and we can’t wait!


To see all the details of the benefits mentioned, as well as the terms and conditions, please click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
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  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases