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Guess the Hotel Revealed: Vision Quest Ranch in CA. Not Africa!

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  Site Where: 400 River Road [map], Salinas, CA, United States, 93908
December 3, 2012 at 11:47 AM | by | ()

Elephants, zebra, water buffalo and ostrich roam the play pen surrounded by bungalows at Vision Quest Ranch

Last week we tried to stump you with another game of Guess the Hotel, sharing a photo of an elephant who had joined us for breakfast off our porch at Vision Quest Ranch B&B. We figured you'd assume an African lodge and never an exotic wild animal retreat in Salinas, California, but doggonit, you done figured it out in less than 24 hours in one correct reply. Right on, hotel smarty pants!

We shared a full report about a year ago when we recommended you Please Feed the Animals at Vision Quest Ranch B&B, but visited again recently as we were dying to bring the kids along and also wanted to check on rumors of a new, onsite zoo.

One of eight comfortable, themed bungalows, complete with a full bath, room heater, even cable TV

In addition to overnight accommodations, guests who stay at Vision Quest get a complimentary daily tour of the grounds and an intro to most of the incredible array of animals staying there. This time around, we signed up for two of many possible add-on experiences that would get us a wee bit closer to the animals — Butch's Bedtime and Crunch Time (a package deal at $40 per person). Butch's Bedtime is exclusive to guests staying at the Ranch and gave us the chance to help get the elephants to bed for the night, seeing them into their heated barns and feeding them bedtime snacks. Crunch Time was our favorite, though, for the chance to see wildly different feeding behaviors among striking cats like a Siberian lynx, African lion and Bengal tiger. (And you thought your dog was food aggressive? You ain't seen nothing yet...)

Crunch Time, our fav animal encounter for the chance to help feed the big cats by sending pounds of raw meat through a small opening in their enclosures.

We also found out the rumors were true: they are building a zoo! Vision Quest Ranch is almost synonymous with Wild Things, which is basically the umbrella name for the animal side of the operation. Wild Things officially broke ground in January to start building the new Monterey Zoological Society, which will turn 51 unused acres of the ranch into big, natural, open paddock style enclosures for the larger animals. This is a much needed expansion for those larger animals — bears, tigers — who while well loved and cared for at Vision Quest, really do need the extra space; it will also leave more expanded space for the smaller animals. We saw the start of the perimeter just outside our bungalow and got totally excited — once the zoo is done, guests who stay there will be even closer the wild animal action.

Here's the thing about Wild Things and the new Monterey Zoological Society; they are building it with their own hands and funds, and still have quite away to go to purchase all the materials needed and get mountains of work done. Check out the Monterey Zoological Society page to learn more and to make donations, all of which will go directly to building the zoo.

We found rates Vision Quest Ranch B&B starting as low as $175 a night for two people.

Gabby, a 9-month old baby baboon, came out with a trainer for a walk and tried her best display of threatening antics—raising her eyebrows, smiling, then leaping into the air. Scary as she wanted to be, she was easily the most adorable and hysterical animal we'd seen all day.

Photos: Nina Kokotas Hahn/HotelChatter

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