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mt-newswireJust got word from the Creek Ranch in central Florida that they have just opened what sounds like a fantastic opportunity to play cowboy.

Plus they have a bunch of other activities including 4x4 tours and it is only an hour away from the attractions in Orlando.


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Creek Ranch, a 1400-acre retreat in Florida's ranch country, is now accepting guests -- a rare opportunity for family and friends to escape into nature and revisit the past.

On approaching Creek Ranch, in Haines City, Florida, there is a sense of leaving the everyday world. Civilization disappears and the landscape relaxes into a serene backdrop. Once through the gates of Creek Ranch, the present falls away. As far as the eye can see are untouched acres where herons, egrets and wild turkeys strut among the cattle that still graze. The fields flow into orange groves, tall cypress trees dripping with Spanish moss edge the calm Lake Hatchineha. Just off the lake is the main house, beautifully designed and filled with antiques and paintings revealing the rich multifaceted history of the area. It seems as if nothing has changed in a century.

Creek Ranch was purchased in 1960 by the Cockes, a prominent Atlanta family who were visionaries in the world of sustainable agriculture -- true environmentalists before the word was invented. Four generations later, the Cockes, who still maintain their main residence in Atlanta, remain ardent gate-keepers in preserving the ranch and protecting its beauty and ecological balance. Over the years, family and friends have gathered here to breathe in nature and relax in the silence. Now the family has opened the ranch's gates to the world.

Guests stay in the Main House or "Bunk House," a warm, sprawling space recently redecorated by award winning interior designer Dan Carithers. Family heirlooms, antiques, paintings and art books blend perfectly with the comfortable couches and oversized chairs. 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, 80-year-old structure, 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. 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!

It is hard to imagine any guest leaving 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.

For the exclusive property rental of the entire ranch for up to eight guests, the daily rate is $5,000, which includes 24-hour personal gourmet chef, all food and drinks, and all activities on the property. If there are more than eight guests (the bunkhouse can accommodate up to 14, or more if some are young children, and the cabin up to 4), the additional charge is $500 per person per day. Staff gratuities are 5% and local taxes are 12%.

For reservations and information, call Sanctuare, toll free (800) 225-4255 or (203) 523-0004,