Maybe you dream of experiencing the John Wayne lifestyle or adding an extra goal to your polo creds. Whatever your motivation to mount up, horseplay takes on new meaning at these five equestrian destinations, where your favorite creature comforts are along for the ride.
Berkshire, home to Windsor Castle, is synonymous with English equestrian life: It’s where both Royal Ascot and the Cartier Queen’s Cup Polo championship are held, two events that Her Majesty attends almost without fail. The latter takes place at the Guards Polo Club, the premier club to chase a ball about with a mallet; see club director Ebe Sievwright, who’s also one of the game’s best-known commentators, about booking a private lesson (beginner-level coaching can be had for around $270). After training at the Guards, check into Cliveden House, a stately home built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham. Set on 376 acres of National Trust land, it offers on-site tennis, nearby golf and a spa with hammam and infrared sauna.
Auberge Resorts’ latest hotel, Bishop’s Lodge, is a short walk from downtown Santa Fe. The 317-acre property abuts the Santa Fe National Forest and includes private stables with more than a dozen horses for guests to enjoy the abundance of land that can be explored by horseback. Book a guided predawn ride to witness the sunrise atop a scenic ridge, a cup of Navajo tea in hand. After a long day in the saddle, you can choose from the hotel’s offerings of rooms, suites, multibedroom casitas or, for family getaways, the 12-room bunkhouse with space for up to 24 adults. Unwind in the wellness spa with a facial, massage or a crystal-bowl sound-therapy session.
The Argentines rule the sport of polo, among them top pro Marcos Di Paola, president of the Argentine Polo Players Association and a team leader for the UK’s King Power, the sponsor behind one of the top polo competitions in the world, the King Power Gold Cup. Along with his brother, Lucas, the pair owns and operates the world-renowned Magual Polo Club, just 45 minutes outside Buenos Aires. Following a day of competition at the club, enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, including a stay at Alvear Palace Hotel, the Argentine equivalent of the Ritz, which offers butler service for suites and Hermès products in every room.
A 20-minute drive from Jackson Hole Airport, you’ll find the Aman’s American outback outpost, the Amangani. Designed to envelop guests in the surrounding wilderness, the resort’s 40 rooms and four home-style accommodations are close to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, with riding arranged by the hotel. Next door, Spring Creek Ranch provides private trail rides through its 1,000-acre wildlife retreat; an hour away in Moran, Heart Six Ranch, one of the oldest dude ranches in the country, provides an authentic cowboy experience with multiday pack trips or guided tours of the trails once used by Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall Gang.
Known for its Basque-style estates and reputation as a retreat for the Hollywood elite, Santa Barbara is often called the American Riviera. Thanks in large part to the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club, it’s also one of the Golden State’s equestrian epicenters. A world-renowned venue in operation for over 100 years and host to the top West Coast polo tournaments, the club offers a variety of polo lessons, whether on school horses or your own private mount. Stay 15 minutes west in the Santa Barbara hills at Belmond’s El Encanto, a Spanish-colonial-meets-California-craftsman resort with a 600-bottle wine cellar and art by Damien Hirst and Charles Arnoldi.