Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch is the only genuine working guest ranch in Croatia, surrounded by 200,000 hectares of the UNESCO Velebit Nature Park. The ranch, located within the Velebit rewilding area, offers a range of equestrian adventures through the picturesque mountains, valleys and coastal landscapes of Velebit. In 2013, Rewilding Europe supported the expansion of Linden Tree through Rewilding Europe Capital. Now, two years later, Linden Tree received an Excellence Award by TripAdvisor and recognition from the world travel market. Find out more in this blog by Megi Yerkovich, one of the Linden Tree owners.
During the 2015 season there was real action going on at Linden Tree Retreat & Ranch. Apart from twice as many visitors as in the year before, Linden Tree crew pushed the limits by adding more activities and variety to the programmes, providing more adventures for our guests. Opening in late March and closing the high season in October, this was the longest season we had until now. We enjoyed the company of our guests coming from all four corners of the world. Every year we add a few more countries to the list and this year for the first time we had guests from Monaco and Liechtenstein!
Our famous Ultimate Cowboy Adventure now covers 9 days, 6 of which are spent high up in the mountains. We no longer rely on mountain huts for overnight accommodation. This year we went hard-core and traditional, moving our tented camp every night and staying off the beaten track, deep into the mountains and forests. Both guests and staff kept the fire and held watch all night long to keep horses safe from wild animals that otherwise, more out of curiosity than hunger, might have taken an interest in them. We enjoyed good camaraderie on the trails and made new friends and fantastic memories.
We had many more families with children this year than in the years before and it was amazing to see how the young ones embrace ranch life and quickly make friends with animals that live at Linden Tree. Their spontaneity is contagious and for next year, we are planning to create a children friendly Indian village out of our decommissioned tipis. Having a playground of their own and an a small oasis for their adventures will enable the parents to explore the area on a horseback or enjoy reading a good book in the Secret Garden knowing the children are also having a good time.
During 2015 we added three more horses to our string of ponies, and now have 14 unique and different animals. Donna, our broodmare, although 25, is pregnant. She was sired by a giddy young Arab stallion this spring and will deliver her 5th foal sometimes in late April next year. Bruce, my husband and partner, continues to pursue his passion of breeding what he calls ‘a perfect mountain horse’, a medium built horse with strong hoofs, eager temperament and intelligent small head, set on a medium neck and wide shoulders. He is getting closer to his dream horse as the years go by.
Throughout the year we experienced many exciting developments in our ranch and worldwide recognition of our work. We received the Excellence Award by TripAdvisor, a reputable review site where guests leave a feedback about their experience here at the ranch. Michelin, famous not only for its tires but also for its restaurant guide is considering Linden Tree for its next edition. Michelin heard about the high-end cuisine and innovative dishes we prepare and serve here at the ranch. In our kitchen, we only use locally sourced ingredients procured from our neighbours and farmers as well as from the nature that surrounds us. Guests from Michelin enjoyed dishes made from wild edibles and my special homemade lemonade that I prepare daily for our visitors. Many of the guests asked for my secret recipe but I explained it would not be a secret anymore if I told them. Whether we made it into their guidebook, we will know sometimes next year.
Last but probably most exciting news is that we are invited to join a distinguished club called The Long Run Initiative, run by Zeitz Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2008 by Jochen Zeitz; he is a prominent German entrepreneur and businessman who is on a mission to support a world of conscience business dedicated to create a sustainable world. The Long Run is also a home of GER, Global Ecosphere Retreats, the elite club of only 9 destinations in the world, who are leaders in the way they run their operations – where goodness of nature, people and commerce are all in balance. Linden Tree has pledged to become a 10th destination on this short list that adheres to these strong guidelines.
To that extend and to keep up with demand from our guests we are planning a major expansion in 2016, aiming to build a new restaurant, a gift shop and more accommodation. This is an ambitious plan but we are confident that new facilities and new programmes that are being developed will add new value for our guests, especially those who keep coming back year after year. As we grow their favourite ranch, they help us grow our passion for the work we do.
Click here to see how your business could also receive support! Get more information about Rewilding Europe Capital, a funding facility providing development loans to new and existing businesses that leverage opportunities created by and contribute to the emerging rewilding movement across Europe.