Cotterel Farms has put a new twist on competitive polo by making tournaments more than a sports competition. At the historic 22,000-acre farm in southern Idaho, polo is what the travel industry calls a “destination event.” It’s polo-plus.
The allure is this: Polo is a sport that requires hard work and extensive travel for everyone involved. A destination event gives teams a reason to select a particular tournament over others offered throughout the country. At the same time the primary draw at Cotterel is what every player wants: fun, fast, polo that is competitive yet friendly.
The farm, which has been in the Luttrell family for more than 50 years, was built more than a century ago and sits on historic property. When it was constructed in 1904 the property was an agriculture and livestock farm. It was also the site of an entire town named Cotterel, which is no longer there (but the old grain silo is still standing). Before cars and trucks became the norm, Cotterel’s trails were used for U.S. mail delivery by the Pony Express and as a railroad stop.
Jenny’s grandfather, LS “Sam” Skaggs (a food and drugstore chain entrepreneur), bought the ranch in 1967 from the Dewey family, who had owned it since 1904. Sam changed the name from Dewey Acres to 6S Ranch. Claudia Luttrell, his daughter, took over operation of the farm in 2013, making it a polo haven for her daughter Jenny. Jenny chose the name Cotterel Farms because Cotterel was the name of the original horse operation run by her mother, who showed Saddlebreds, Arabians, harness ponies and cutting horses.
The 6S ranch was originally a farming operation producing grain and hay. While Sam initially used the ranch as a weekend retreat from city life for his family, the ranch quickly became a full-time working ranch when he added in a 2,000-head commercial cattle operation and crops consisting of corn, potatoes, sugar beets and alfalfa. Today the Luttrell family still maintains the farming operation, but have switched out the cattle operation for polo ponies.
The family took care to preserve as much of the farm’s history as possible while providing all the modern conveniences. A century-old barn was converted into an ultra-comfy lodge with player housing. The fencing and other structures on the farm are made of reclaimed wood from the property.
“We've kept the structure of the barn intact with all the original beams,” said Claudia. The downstairs rooms in the residential lodge are named in honor of former four-footed residents of the structure: King, Buster and Maggie, some of them Belgian draft horses that hauled hay for the livestock.
“The ranch is open to everyone,” says manager Jenny Luttrell-Benardoni. “People are welcome to come as an individual player, a half team or a whole team. We want the sponsors to feel they can play any days they want. We created this to be an inclusive, customizable and fun polo experience.”
Tournaments at Cotterel are not identified by goal level. “Having tournament levels would make it seem that if you don't have a specific team handicap level organized, you can't come play. That’s not what we’re about,” she says. “People are welcome to show up with whatever level they have. With our seven in-house pros (ranging in handicap from 1 to 5 goals) and all the guests, we will make the highest level games possible.”
Cotterel’s 2018 season runs June through September. A highlight is the annual LS Skaggs Memorial tournament and an asado prepared by Agustin Mallmann on July 7.
“Cotterel is a very easy, cost-effective way to enjoy a different polo experience,” says Henry Walker, patron ofFarmers & Merchants Bank polo team, which played in Cotterel’s farm’s first season last summer.
“You don’t have to struggle to find housing for yourself or your team or your staff at Cotterel. All the boarding facilities are in place. And everything is on the property, which makes it easier for teams to develop camaraderie,” says Walker. “It’s a unique experience—you’re in a very rural space of southern Idaho but in luxury accommodations.”
The lodge that houses the teams is a unique blend of rustic and modern. “You’re on a polo farm but it feels like you’re living in the Marriott. Everything is first-class,” says Graham Bray of Twin Palms polo team, which came from California to play at Cotterel last summer.
“The best thing is that it’s turnkey,” he adds. “You just show up and they provide everything: the housing, the shavings, the hay . . . It’s all right there: stabling, tracks, unbelievable accommodations. You don’t even have to leave the property unless you want something from the store, and it’s right down the street.”
When it comes to playing polo, says Bray, “The facility is amazing. The barns are beautiful. The land is all irrigated, and the fields are great.”
ADDRESS: 1352 E Six S Ranch Road, Declo ID 83323
AIRPORTS: Twin Falls, Idaho (TWF), 45 minutes. Salt Lake City, Utah (SLC) and Boise, Idaho (BOI) airports are three hours from Cotterel Farms.
SEASON: June through September
TOURNAMENTS: LS Skaggs Memorial and asado prepared by Agustin Mallmann on July 7. Other tournaments are arranged dependent on guests’ wishes.
FACILITIES: 160 stalls, 3 regulation polo fields, exercise track, round pen, 25-room lodge, large indoor Quincho with pool table, ping pong and foosball table
MORE INFORMATION: Call Francisco Benardoni at 303-325-6972; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by: Darlene Ricker