A taste of the Oregon high desert slathered in luxury makes the whole family happy

My four-year-old daughter loves Brasada Ranch. Quite possibly more than her other favorite things—strawberry ice cream and swings. As we drove in late August under Brasada Ranch’s signature feature, an old irrigation trestle, once used to carry water to livestock back when this beautiful parcel of land northeast of Bend was the working Shumway Ranch, Maris squealed with happiness. “I love it here!”

I wasn’t going to argue with her. I love it at Brasada Ranch, too. Fifteen minutes later we’d checked in and were stationed at the incredible swimming pool—one of five on property—for the duration of the afternoon. A waterfall, huge slide, and “lazy river” are just a few of the reasons this pool is so lovable. I personally can’t get enough of the view of the Cascade Range. Brasada Ranch sits on the flanks of Powell Butte, overlooking dramatic views of the high desert and the mountains in the distance. Fabulous pool chairs that come with food and beverage service aren’t hard to take either.

This is the beauty and magic of Brasada Ranch. A place that is incredibly naturally beautiful, caters luxuriously to adults, yet makes a four-year-old and her six-year-old sister glow with happiness is simply a three-day fast track to family vacation bliss.

The next morning I ditched the kids at the Hideout—Brasada’s answer to day camp—and headed for the spa, feeling a little bit guilty. Not enough to distract me from my 90-minute ticket to heaven by way of a Rehydration Ritual facial, nor enough to prevent me from spending an additional hour at the adults-only pool near the spa. I finally tore myself away to retrieve the children, who, I found, want nothing to do with me. They’d been on a bicycle ride to see the resident Clydesdale horses, made art projects, gone swimming, and had a lunch of hot dogs, fresh blackberries and peaches. What use could they possibly have for me? Obligingly, I left them in the capable hands of counselor Tom for another two hours, and hit the pool.

That evening, as we moseyed (that’s what you do on a Ranch—mosey) down the hill to the Ranch House restaurant past lovely lavender, sage and old juniper trees, the relaxation had truly sunk in. The Ranch House turned out to serve locally sourced, finely prepared, creative dishes at great prices. I would expect Brasada Ranch’s fine dining restaurant, Range, to wow diners, but was amazed at how great the food is here in this family-friendly restaurant. The kids devoured brick oven pizza and my husband and I enjoyed signature skillet dishes. His piri piri, a shrimp cous cous dish with lemon, cucumber yogurt and mint, was absolutely divine.

After dinner came the show. Brasada sunsets are legendary. The salmon-coral-golden colors just went on and on, extending overhead clear back to the top of Powell Butte behind us. Adding to the ambiance was an incredible fire pit, begging us to gather round and make s’mores. S’mores at a luxury resort? Of course. S’mores are a Brasada tradition. Not just any s’mores, of course. Chef Adrian and his crew make even the marshmallows from scratch. The girls toasted ‘em up themselves (“It’s like camping!”) and devoured them while Lee, possibly Central Oregon’s best bartender, kept my husband and me in margaritas.

Could we be any happier? Yes, when we learned we didn’t even have to walk back up the hill to our cabin. A Brasada courier would be happy to shuttle us in the Ranch’s Gem Car, a six-seat upscale electric golf cart that makes the kids wide-eyed with happiness. As we zoomed through the heat of the Central Oregon summer evening, stars going off like crazy overhead, my daughter said, “Mom, when can we come back?” Soon, grasshopper. Very soon.

See www.brasada.com.

Note: I did not pay for the services described here, but my thoughts are my own.

About the Author: Kim Cooper Findling

Kim Cooper Findling grew up on the Oregon Coast but became a Central Oregon girl in the mid-90s, taking in the sunny skies and never looking back (expect a few wistful glances at the ocean). She is the editor of “Central Oregon Magazine” and the author of “Day Trips From Portland: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler” and “Chance of Sun: An Oregon Memoir.” Catch her around the state sampling microbrews, hiking river trails, taking silly pictures with her iPhone, and camping with her husband and two daughters in the family tent trailer, Brutus.

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  1. Holly Macfee says…

    I echo everything Kim says–this is an amazing getaway for couples or a family and there is nothing like it in Oregon. We also took the kids horseback riding with the wonderful, patient veteran teacher, Kevin (we’d never been horseback riding before and we were in very capable hands). It is really quite a moment to watch the joy of your child on a horse for the first time, with the view of Three Sisters in the background. Another thing we loved is that chef Adrian sources 85% of his food locally. Go Brasada!

    Written on October 16th, 2011 / Flag this Comment
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