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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Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa: Spirit of the Southwest in the Rockies

Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa

Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa

Can’t decide whether you want to vacation in the Southwest or the mountains? How about choosing a place of lodging where you enjoy the spirit and landscapes of both? Check out Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa, a lovely southwestern-inspired adobe retreat set within the majestic San Juan Mountains, just an hour from Telluride, Colorado. Situated in the charming little town of Ridgway (featured in John Wayne films such as “True Grit”), I often recommend Chipeta as an excellent base for visiting the many interesting sites and towns that pepper southwestern Colorado and southern Utah.

If you travel further into the mountains from Ridgway, you can easily explore the historic old mining towns of Telluride, Ouray and Silverton. If you head toward Montrose, you can hit the Ute Indian Museum, a well-worth-the-stop attraction that showcases one of Colorado’s most complete collections of Ute ceremonial and traditional artifacts. Just on the other side of Montrose, plan to spend at least a half day at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, a stunning and somewhat spooky site that provokes nearly as many oohs and aahs as the Grand Canyon. And within a two-hour drive you can find yourself amidst the striking red rock of Moab and other parts of southern Utah in addition to Arches National Park and Canyonlands.

Since there’s so much to visit in the area and most of the lodging at Chipeta includes condo-type units, you’ll likely want to check in here for a week. Plan at least a couple of relaxing rest days where you can stay put at this warm and welcoming lodge just to loll by the pool or enjoy a treatment in their spa.

View from the Porch of Chipeta's Four Corners Cafe

View from the Porch of Chipeta's Four Corners Cafe

Whether you’re staying at the lodge or just passing through, a stop at Chipeta’s Four Corners Cafe for dinner or drinks is a must. Here you’ll be enchanted by the striking vistas provided from the top-floor location of this casual restaurant and bar. Inside, the scene serves up heaps of southwestern charm within its desert rose-colored interior. As the sun sinks beneath the mountains, you’re bathed in pink light most evenings whether you’re seated inside or out.

The Sunny Interior of the Four Corners Cafe

The Sunny Interior of the Four Corners Cafe

Indeed this heartwarming lodge is aptly named. It’s called Chipeta, in honor of the lovely wife of Chief Ouray, head of the Ute Indians that once inhabited this land, a gentle woman that eventually became “queen” of both the whites and the Utes of the region. Embracing the rich diversity of this part of the country is what Chipeta, the lodge and the beloved Native American figure, are all about.

Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa, Ridgway, Colorado, 800-633-5868,

July is a wonderful time to visit Chipeta Sun Lodge and its Four Corners Cafe, especially this year with such a rockin’ Ridgway Concert Series lineup. Free concerts take place every Thursday throughout the month from 6p.m. ‘til dark in Ridgway’s Town Park. What a great way to kick off the weekend!

Gateway Canyons: One Big Discovery

The Kiva Pool: My Own Special Oasis

The Kiva Pool: My Own Special Sanctuary

I returned to Gateway Canyons recently and became even more enchanted by this magnificent site than when I first visited this resort two and a half years ago. Clearly they’d been busy at Gateway throughout this period, cultivating and refining the soothing oasis that has been created within the awe-inspiring red rocks of this unique southwestern Colorado location. Indeed, Gateway Canyons is well on its way to being a world-class resort. And certainly Gateway Canyons owner and founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, must feel proud about how his burgeoning resort has more than added to the beauty of this already spectacular setting.

Although just a two-hour (and quite scenic) drive from Telluride and Grand Junction, getting to Gateway can require a bit of an effort. But to me, this only adds to the appeal of this lovely resort. I can’t ever imagine it overrun by tourists and that certainly wasn’t the case when I stayed here a couple of weeks ago during peak time. This enabled me to while away peaceful hours by the Kiva Pool, sipping lemonade and eventually a prickly pear cactus daiquiri as I leafed through magazines. A quick dip in the pool’s cool, saline water allowed me to lounge in the desert heat until the surrounding rocks soaked up the sum of the day’s blistering sun. Ahhhh, that’s what I call relaxation.

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5 Feb 2011, 12:28pm
Colorado Hotels & Lodging Pot Pourri Shopping Spas Telluride:
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Valentine’s Love: Great Deals for Public Radio

Wrapped in Red at the New Sheridan Hotel

Wrapped in Red at the New Sheridan Hotel

Here’s an opportunity for twofold love. Snatch up a great deal on travel and treats while supporting community radio. I’ve listed some exciting gifts below that you can give your Valentine and at the same time you’ll be showing support for KOTO, our homegrown NPR station here in Telluride, Colorado. All proceeds from these gifts benefit KOTO. You’ll notice that you don’t even have to go to T-ride to take advantage of them. All you have to do is contact me with your pledge and I’ll let you know if you’re the lucky recipient of these fine premiums. It’s first come, first served, so go ahead and e-mail me your choice along with your contact information and I’ll let you know if you’ve scored a great Valentine’s gift for your sweetie.

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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