Two Brief Stays in Santa Fe

The Cathedral Basiica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assis in Santa Fe, New Mexico

My boyfriend, Steve, and I have managed to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico—an almost six-hour drive from Telluride, Colorado—twice within the past year and a half and we’re already plotting our next trip. (That one will surely include exploring the ski mountain.) Each trip was short—only two nights a piece—and we didn’t even step foot in one of Santa Fe’s amazing museums, but still, we felt far from cheated. For us, it has been enough to just chill and breathe in the heartwarming, southwestern ambiance for which this town is known. Just like going to Paris and whiling away time in a corner café instead of scouring the Louvre, in Santa Fe during both stays we just strolled around and admired the beauty of this magnificent city, the oldest incorporated state capital within the United States.

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The Broadmoor: My Favorite Fall Getaway

The Bodacious Broadmoor at Twilight

The Bodacious Broadmoor at Twilight

Sometimes I feel so spoiled. Sure, the writer’s life that I’ve chosen is not an easy one, but there are many perks. And being the girlfriend of a hotel GM just doubles my luck, especially when it comes to experiencing luxury lodging, fine dining and unique travel opportunities. Take The Broadmoor, for example, the grande dame of the Rockies situated in Colorado Springs, Colorado where I’ve practically become a regular. Well, at least every October.

My love, Steve Togni, GM of Mountain Lodge Telluride, just announced to me the other day that he wants me to accompany him to this stellar resort again this year toward the end of the month. Well, I guess that takes the sting out of not making it to France as we had hoped. (A sick kitty has impeded those plans.) So this will be my fourth time accompanying him to this superlative property known throughout the world and my fifth visit in all. (I came once on my own steam before we were together.)

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World Cup Adventures: from Yoga to Yowza

Birds of Prey World Cup at Beaver Creek

I love travel. Yes, it can be terribly tiresome but it usually brings about some of the most unexpected and exciting happenings. Case in point:  Last week I stayed at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, one of my favorite properties in Colorado. It was to be a stopover with my friend, Mary Dawn, on our way back from combined promotions (for my new book and her delightful alpine goods) in Denver and Breckenridge as we made our way toward Telluride, Colorado, home base for us both. I was planning to just chill and recover from almost five weeks away, soaking up all the amenities of this first-class resort. But what an adventure it turned out to be!

The stay started out quietly enough. We had both settled into our luxurious digs replete with full kitchen and glorious beds piled high with comfy pillows in a variety of sizes, half of which we wanted to take home. I padded down to The Westin’s newly renovated fitness center the first morning to see how I could begin to restore myself after way too much time at my desk followed by extensive travel. This beehive of fitness fiefdom was still buzzing with activity at 11 a.m.—no wonder since it’s one of the preferred athletic clubs of the Vail Valley. I peeked into their fully-equipped pilates and spinning rooms before opting for the solitude of their yoga studio where I was thankfully in time for a much-needed class. Susan, the yoga director, took special care to address my needs, those of a weary travel writer that hadn’t devoted much time to being fit since last ski season ended. Thanks to her and the calming surroundings of this specially-designated yoga oasis, I felt one step closer to being whole again.

The Westin Riverfront’s Yoga Studio

After chitchatting with the staff about all the doings at the hotel, I learned that the resort was in a flurry of activity largely due to the Audi FIS Birds of Prey World Cup Men’s Race that was taking place at Beaver Creek during that period. “Yes, I saw the gates and skis piled up in the lobby when I checked in last night,” I said. “I had totally overlooked the fact that that was going on. Then someone told me the Austrian team was staying here,” I added.

Skis & Gates in The Westin’s Lobby: Sure Sign of World Cup Doings

“Come back later in the afternoon to see the athletes working out,” a couple of the staffers exclaimed practically in unison. “It’s quite the show—with all those good looking guys lifting weights and swirling in their hula hoops,” one chuckled.

Sadly, my afternoon passed all too quickly up in my room at my laptop and by the time I sauntered down to the fitness area at 5:45p.m., all the studly dudes had left. Darn, I thought. There’s nothing like checking out world-class athletes in action and I missed it.

That evening, however, on the tail end of a most enjoyable dinner at Cima, the Westin’s signature restaurant and a Richard Sandoval creation, Mary Dawn wasted no time getting in on the World Cup fun. “Would you please tell those guys over there Grüß Gott?” she kindly asked the waiter. Already it was clear they were part of the Austrian ski team, so why not send the classic Austrian/Bavarian greeting from the Alps over to them? Why miss out on some Euro schmoozing? Three guys bopped over to our table and sidled into the curvilinear booth faster than you can say hooray. We enjoyed trading cross cultural stories and experiences until the wee hours of the morning. Since MD lived in Germany six years and is fluent in German, she particularly enjoyed the exchange. My French experience (eleven years in Paris) brought less to the table yet we were all in a bon vivant mood nonetheless. Fortunately our Austrian ski team companions were comprised of the director, a coach and a technician or else I can’t see how they would have been able to race the next day.

Cima’s Curvaceous Decor

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Shopping, Dining and Spa-Going Small in Breckenridge

Breckenridge by Night

I love the idea of Small Business Saturday, the latest shopping initiative added to the Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping kickoff. Thank you American Express. I’ll take that any day over Black Friday and grey Thursday (which sadly looks as though it’s here to stay). It should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of boutique-y places. Where would we be without our small businesses? We’d certainly live in a charmless world. I love places with personality and soul. I think you most often find those characteristics in something small.

In Colorado, we are well served, especially in mountain towns such as Aspen, Telluride, Crested Butte, Vail and more. This past summer I discovered Breckenridge, Colorado for the first time, yet another Colorado mountain town that offers picture-postcard views at every turn. Even their Starbucks is adorable! Breck’s main street is filled chock-a-block with a plethora of small boutiques and restaurants. I also discovered a spa that won me over by its intimate, relaxing feel.

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10 Jul 2012, 3:18pm
Colorado Hotels & Lodging Mountain Living Restaurants Spas The Rockies:
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Back to Normal at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs

Poolside Luxe at The Broadmoor

What a difference a day makes. It sounds trite but boy, does it ring true.

A week can make even more of a difference. This past week of moisture—day after day of hard driving rains and good soaking showers—has changed the look of Colorado measurably. Although some of our grasses, bushes and shrubs were burned beneath the pounding sun of late spring and early summer, most of our flora has perked up and as I gaze outside my window here in Telluride, the scene appears lush and verdant.

Double Beauty

Today in Colorado Springs, the most destructive fire in the history of Colorado has been declared fully contained. There’s not a trace of smoke in the air (actually there hasn’t been for days). With the monsoonal flows of July and August seemingly settling in throughout the state, I can almost hear every Coloradan breathing a collective sigh of relief.

Now don’t be scared off by the word monsoon! Ours are nothing like what you would expect on the other side of the earth. In the Rockies during most of July and August, you wake up to blue skies that typically cloud over in the afternoon, just enough to give our glorious landscapes a good watering. By late in the day, the sun usually reappears, affording us spectacular sunsets and an abundance of rainbows. This doesn’t happen every day although typically it occurs just enough to keep our mountain-scapes green and fresh.

So in case you haven’t fully absorbed my message, I can tell you now is a great time to visit colorful Colorado. If you want to help those that have suffered from the tremendous outbreak of wildfires we recently experienced, plan a trip to Colorado. If you already have a trip planned, plan another. With all the national news coverage of the fires, you can bet the state’s tourism has been slammed. I wish CNN and others would now broadcast that this great Western state is looking mighty fine and that blooming wildflowers have replaced blooming wildfires.

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6 May 2012, 4:42pm
Hotels & Lodging Restaurants Spas The Rockies Utah:
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Stein Eriksen Lodge: A Rocky Mountain Classic Where Sunday Brunch Astounds

An Arrival Circle Fit for an Olympian at Stein Eriksen Lodge

Since I moved to the Rockies nearly ten years ago, I’ve been cultivating a short list of renowned resorts that I’ve wanted to discover. (Anyone that reads this blog with any frequency knows that I love fine hotels and more importantly, the ambiance they create.) Let me see. There’s The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Sonnenalp in Vail and Sundance and Stein Eriksen Lodge in Utah. These are what I consider to be the crème de la crème of the old, established Rocky Mountain resorts and by the time I post this story, I will have experienced all of them. (Feel free to let me know if I’m missing any from this grouping! Yes, I know there are some great lodges in Montana and Wyoming, but I’ll save them for another day.)

There’s a reason these establishments have been world-renowned for decades. Actually at each, you can count many reasons, the biggest one perhaps being that it’s easy to create memories at these properties, unique moments that remain with you forever thanks to the overall feel of the resort. Details such as fresh flowers, hand-carved furnishings, a saloon with a creaky wooden floor and the uniforms sported by the people that work there also help to transport you to a different place.

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Pick a Spa, Pick a Ski Destination

Outdoor Pool at The Peaks Resort & Spa

You’re missing out on a good chunk of fun and relaxation if you think your whole mountain experience has to be all about hitting the slopes. Sure, there’s nothing like spending day after day in the fresh air, carving perfect turns on buttery snow or picking through exquisite, diamond-shaped moguls. Yet even the most die-hard skiers and boarders need a day off. Or maybe just a half day. Or how about a couple days off? It’s supposed to be a vacation after all. You don’t want to feel like you need a vacation after your vacation, do you? How about après-ski—don’t those moments represent some of the best of your whole ski vacation? Those delicious hours of the day don’t have to be all about drinks at the bar.

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18 Aug 2011, 2:53pm
Colorado Hotels & Lodging Spas The Rockies:
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Glenwood Hot Springs: Swimming and Soaking Year-Round

Summer Fun Year-Round at Glenwood Hot Springs

It’s been a great summer for hydrotherapy. With record-breaking temperatures hitting much of the country, people have been discovering more than ever the healing benefits of getting in the water. Out in the West, we’re spoiled since we have access to swimming and soaking all year long at many exciting destinations in our Rocky Mountain state. Colorado has some of the best hot springs in the country and certainly the granddaddy of them all is Glenwood Hot Springs, a natural geothermal spring with a flow rate of 143 liters per second. That’s a lot of fresh, hot mineral water for easing the stress out of your tired bones and muscles.

Best of all the Glenwood Hot Springs outdoor pool, which measures over two city blocks long, is always kept at a comfortable 90 to 93 degrees. Kids and adults love this temperature, ideal for playing on the water slide or swimming laps in the pool. For more therapeutic dunks, head to the other end of the pool where this mineral-rich water hovers around 104 degrees. Here in Colorado we’re blessed with a dry climate that renders even the hottest days perfectly pleasant. But oh, those Colorado nights. As soon as the sun slips down in the sky, there’s a chill in the air that makes soaking all the more enjoyable. And, of course, when fall and winter hit, you can really strike the right formula between hot and cold, especially if you’re lucky enough to find yourself at Glenwood Hot Springs with the snow falling down gently around you.

No wonder people have been flocking to these hot springs along the Colorado River for centuries. Originally referred to as “Yampah,” or “big medicine,” by the Ute Indians, the first known visitors to these springs, the site has always been revered for its great healing power. In 1888, the world’s largest hot springs pool was created in the newly established town of Glenwood Springs and since then, people have been traveling from all over the world to this healing wonder of the Rockies. I love how the original sandstone bathhouse and lodge, built in 1890, have been beautifully preserved and that the pool is kept nice and clean with a state-of-the-art ozone purification system.

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