Living Like a Rockefeller

Kerry Kraus


For a few days earlier this week, I had the luxury of living like a Rockefeller. I attended a conference that was held at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute on top of Petit Jean Mountain near Morrilton. Run by the University of Arkansas, this first-class, state-of-the-art (you’d expect anything less from a Rockefeller?) facility is incredible. First, no amount of money in this world can buy better views than those from atop the mountain overlooking the Arkansas River Valley. The view is equally matched by the meticulous attention to detail that went into planning this conference and educational center.

Originally a part of the late Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s homestead and cattle farm, this portion has been converted into the perfect location for a conference, retreat or meeting. You can also select from numerous educational programs offered by the Institute, which cover such topics as archeology, the arts, culinary arts, economic development, the environment, health and wellness, heritage and public affairs.

Our conference schedule included a cooking class. With 20 of us going strong in the demonstration kitchens, it sometimes looked like Iron Chef Arkansas but it was a terrific and fun experience. The institute’s trained chefs were on hand to guide us when needed. The full range of programs offered is amazing and if they are anything at all like the culinary class, you’re in for a very special treat.

The complex includes the River Rock Grill, a full-service restaurant and private club. Memberships are free so enjoy a fantastic meal while taking in the incredible views. The huge flat-screen, high-definition television makes it a great place to chow down while watching the game. Don’t miss the Rockefeller Legacy Gallery, which explores the life of Mr. Rockefeller and the influence he had on the country and his much-loved, adopted state of Arkansas. If you’re staying at the institute, you have 24-hour access to fitness and recreational facilities, which include an indoor basketball and tennis court, a boathouse, and a three-level fitness center.

While on top of Petit Jean, be sure and visit Petit Jean State Park, The Museum of Automobiles, Petit Jean Honey and Farmers’ Market, and Petit Jean Mountain Barnyard Friends.


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