Here’s a gem in the Sonoran Desert that I am excited to share with you: a special place in Tucson called Rincon Creek Ranch, located by the Rincon Mountains and Saguaro National Park East. Not only is it a tranquil and scenic natural setting for intimate destination weddings, elopements or vow renewals, it is owned by a gracious couple who make you feel right at home. Turns out I’ve learned Bill and Gretchen Shirley and I enjoy serving similar kinds of clients: discerning folks seeking relaxed and smaller scale events where the emphasis is upon being with close friends and family, plus enjoying time in the desert. I got the chance to talk with Bill and Gretchen recently. Here’s a bit of our conversation:
Kristine: What qualities separate Rincon Creek Ranch from other destination event venues or locations in Southern Arizona?
Bill & Gretchen: The sheer stunning beauty of our natural setting combined with the luxury of the upscale accommodations. We have 95 acres and share a half mile long border with Saguaro National Park giving us unspoiled views that simply don’t exist anywhere else in Tucson. Also, the “boutique” quality of our Ranch. We have the “just right” Goldilocks fit.
Kristine: As owners and hosts to your guests, what are your creative specialties?
Bill & Gretchen: Gretchen and I have independent talents, and we anticipate different needs of our guests. Mine are more practical and functional while Gretchen’s are more pampering and aesthetic. What we share is the desire to do the best job possible. It’s not a job. It’s a passion. Together we try to make sure that our casitas are truly “Little Homes”. We do our best to make sure that every detail, necessity, and amenity has been provided to give our guests a luxurious, relaxing get away. If a guest requests something that we didn’t think to provide, you can be sure there will be one in every casita as soon as we can get it.
For events at the Ranch, it is Gretchen’s aesthetic design talent that shapes how the location or project will look and feel. My construction and engineering skills bring her ideas to fruition. And, sometimes its a feature I want to provide, but she shapes it with her input, and the collaborative end product is always better than our initial individual idea.
Kristine: Who are your ideal clients or guests? What do you enjoy about working with them?
Bill & Gretchen: For guests, it is those who are truly on a vacation retreat. We have hosted numerous guests that are here visiting relatives, attending an event, or on a working retreat, but the ones that are really here to enjoy themselves are always the most rewarding. For those booking the Ranch for an event, the smaller intimate groups always seem to have the most rewarding time. We’ve found “destination” wedding parties to be absolutely wonderful. Generally its groups of about ten couples that arrive from out of state and stay for about five days. They have the entire Ranch to themselves. They are on vacation, but also have a wedding ceremony and intimate reception. We are now getting those couples back to celebrate their anniversaries. Reunions are also a lot of fun.
Bill & Gretchen: Don’t try and “make it work”. Be realistic about your budget and the attributes of your event. We’ve had many cases where a host has fallen in love with the Ranch, but the sheer size of their event exceeds the capacity of what we can offer. Its like falling in love with that spectacular pair of shoes or stunning outfit, but its not available in your size. If you try to force it, it ends up being a very uncomfortable experience and defeating to your initial vision.
Kristine: Anything else you’d like to share?
Bill & Gretchen: Universally, our guests have all said “two days is too short”. Maybe that sounds like a marketing ploy, but its the truth. Check out what our guests have said on TripAdvisor.com. For wedding couples, remember it is about your relationship. You are forming a union, and you are celebrating that partnership. Its not about the party or the trappings.
Kristine: I agree, Bill and Gretchen! Forming a union through marriage is a major milestone, one to be celebrated in a way that reflects a couples’ own unique shared stories, beliefs and values. Thanks for sharing your insights and thank you for making an incredibly thoughtful place available for guests to celebrate meaningful celebrations throughout life!