When one thinks of places to escape to from Kansas City, Excelsior Springs may, surprisingly, make the list. The Elms Hotel and Spa has long been a destination for those wanting a 'staycation.' But recently, a new venue has caught travelers' eyes—Sundance Ranch. This wooded enclave just outside of downtown Excelsior Springs offers a unique alternative to a traditional hotel without sacrificing comfort.
The Sundance Ranch is owned by Melissa and Beau Claridge. When the opportunity to buy the 200 acre plot came up, they jumped on it with a clear vision of creating an area that could accommodate large groups, small parties or anyone that wanted to get back to nature. Currently, the ranch has a two bedroom apartment, a well-appointed treehouse and a Beduoin-style tent for 'glamping'.
"We have big families so we know what it's like to try to find spaces that can hold everyone. Here, you can have a large family gathering but still have separation and privacy," says Melissa.
Along with the current accommodations, the couple is in the process of building more treehouses and cabins, all hidden but within close proximity to their spring-fed lake. Anyone who stays is welcome to kayak, stand-up paddle board, swim or just lounge at the outdoor living room as the sun goes down.
The Robbers Roost Tree House was the perfect spot for our fall fashion shoot. As the evening sun set through the windows, birds chirped outside and a large fan cooled our models, Debbie, Charlee and Courtney. Melissa says that the area is beautiful in all seasons, with carpets of wildflowers in the spring and blankets of silence on snowy winter evenings.
While a treehouse may seem too rustic, this one has all the comforts of home—no TV but there is fresh water, a French press and a generator to charge phones and heat water for coffee, as well as a plush bed and armchair for reading. Fire pits offer areas to cook or guests can order in from one of Excelsior Springs' restaurants. And sometimes, you get lucky and Beau himself will whip up something gourmet.
As the fall approaches, it's time to start layering, says Heather Chaney, owner of Catfish and Tater. The boutique, located just off the history Liberty Square, offers a variety of styles and brands, with new pieces arriving every week. The self-professed clothes lover buys with her customer in mind.
"There are things in here that I would look terrible in but they are so cute that I have to order them and just find the right person for them," she laughs.
This fall, earth tones are grounding bohemian styles. Embroidered details perk up simple tops and lightweight sweaters take summery garments into fall. When the weather turns chillier, look for a chunky cardigan in patchwork as a versatile piece to go with any outfit.
Jumpsuits and jeans still reign supreme but the skinny leg isn't queen anymore.
"The wide-leg look is really coming back," says Chaney. Aided by a high waist, the long length of the wide leg jean can help lengthen the look of your legs, although Chaney warns they aren't for everyone. Distressing is still in, not only in skinny cuts but in boyfriend styles as well. Comfort reigns supreme.
Clothing Provided by Catfish and Tater
Location provided by Sundance Ranch KC
Hair by Debbie Brown of Re:Form Hair Studio in North Kansas City
Makeup by Courtney Olivas
Models: Debbie Brown, Courtney Olivas, Charlee Kline