Ritz-Carlton | Denver, CO

There is something exhilarating about being in Denver, Colorado…maybe it’s that crisp Rocky Mountain air, maybe it’s the 300+ days of sunshine a year, or maybe it’s the laid-back urban vibe that the city evokes. Whatever it is, the Mile-High City {nicknamed so because its elevation is exactly one mile above sea level} offers a nice juxtaposition between the urban Financial District with its high-rise buildings and the remanence of its old-west history with its historic neighborhoods and iconic landmarks.

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As most of my regular readers know, it is always my intention to stay at the most luxurious accommodations in any given area I visit as well as my preference to stay in a unique, boutique-style hotel; however, when I’m in an urban area, I admit that I enjoy staying in a high-rise that allows me to have a birds-eye view of the city and the bustling activity below. In looking for a luxury hotel in the Denver area, I knew that the Ritz-Carlton Denver would be a great choice. I appreciate the reliability of a luxury brand such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotels that I know I can count on to offer consistent and dependable quality in luxury accommodations.

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Lumière Hotel | Telluride, CO

Okay, I’m going to let you all in on my little secret…I’m in love with Colorado! There I said it. And Telluride in particular. I have been seduced by Telluride’s beauty and charm ~ the historic western town with its adorable boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants; I’ve been awestruck by the stunning mountain peaks, reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, that loom over the town boasting its flowing waterfalls and rainbow colored mountain-tops at sunset. A vision so striking that it can take your breath away.

This former mining town is now a well sought-after vacation destination, and while we all know this region to be a snow skier’s paradise, it offers some pretty spectacular summer adventures as well. So you can imagine that year-round this quaint town is quite active with visitors. This is something you may want to consider when deciding where to stay.

As my readers have come to know, I am always searching for that hidden gem ~ a luxury hotel that offers something distinctive and represents its region. In doing my research for my visit to Telluride, one hotel kept coming to the forefront ~ the Lumière Hotel.

The Lumière Hotel is an intimate 29-room luxury hotel and residences located in Mountain Village which sits approximately 800 feet in elevation above the town of Telluride. The two distinct towns are joined by a gondola system which provides a free and convenient form of transportation with generous daily operating hours from 7am to midnight.

In my opinion, there are some distinct advantages to staying in Mountain Village. Staying in Mountain Village allows you the convenience of parking your car for the duration of your stay while utilizing the gondola system to get to downtown; or should you want to explore the surrounding area, Mountain Village allows you the ease of coming and going without dealing with the issues of fighting the tourist traffic downtown, or trying to find a parking space. I made the mistake of driving directly into downtown Telluride before checking into Lumière and, due to some road work, I encountered some serious gridlock in the tiny town. So you can imagine my delight when I found out I could abandon my car until my departure.

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Property

The truth is that Mountain Village is a town unto itself. Located in the public plaza of the village you will find restaurants, shops, entertainment, even a liquor store and such services as financial firms and realtors. There are several accommodation options, such as condo residences and a couple hotels. And with a quick gondola hop over to the next station, you’ll find a market as well.

Lumière is conveniently located in the heart of Mountain Village steps away to the gondola, restaurants, bars, shops and the public plaza. Yet, Lumière has the distinction of being set just outside the public plaza, that can become quite congested during peak seasons. This position gives Lumière all the conveniences of being in the midst of Mountain Village and yet allows its guests an opportunity to step away from the crowds of the plaza when desired.

This luxury boutique hotel is all about providing personalized service, attention to detail and creating a welcoming environment. In 2016, the hotel was purchased by Clare Afman and Susie Schaefer-Russel, who had both been existing members of the executive management team at the hotel. Under their ownership, the hotel has received many accolades and has quickly become one of Telluride’s top luxury hotels.

I had the pleasure of meeting Clare and her husband, Bas Afman, Asst. General Mgr., who both exude a warm and friendly demeanor. In watching them interact with the guests, it is apparent that their main objective is to make sure each guest is taken care of and has an enjoyable experience, and this is a principle that is followed by all the staff.

I experienced this do whatever it takes attitude, when upon my check-out, Bas took on the role as my Valet in pulling out my car and loading my luggage. I found it refreshing that he was willing to assist me in that manner when apparently the regular Valet was not available. This type of conscientious service is what you can expect at Lumière.

Check-in

As I turned into the Mountain Village from the main road, I was in awe as I drove by some stately homes scattered along an expansive pasture with the gorgeous San Juan Mountains in the background. As I continued driving towards the core of the village, the expansive landscape began to condense into multi-story condos, residences, and hotels offering ski-in/ski-out accommodations and I eventually found myself at a roundabout in front of the Lumière Hotel.

I was immediately greeted by a friendly Valet who escorted me to the fourth floor where there is an intimate greeting area. A discrete desk tucked in a corner serves as the reception, as well as, the concierge desk. To me, it felt more like being a personal visitor than an ordinary hotel guest. The whole process was a simple and pleasant experience. Complimentary wi-fi and online access to The New York Times is available throughout your stay. 

Guest Rooms

The Lumière Hotel consists of 11 hotel rooms and 18 residences ranging from 1-5 bedrooms which include 3 Penthouses (see descriptions here).

All the units are designed in the same mountain chic contemporary style with rich wood-beamed ceilings, warm fabrics, nice artwork and fun splashes of orange accents creating an upscale residential environment. The hotel rooms offer a King or Queen bed with a kitchen bar offering a coffee maker, microwave and mini Sub-Zero refrigerator, while the residences offer a full chef’s kitchen including a Wolf range, full-sized Sub-Zero refrigerator, washer/dryer and pantry. Many of the rooms can be connected to create larger living spaces for family or friends to stay together.

I stayed in a one-bedroom residence (#60) on the sixth floor that had a large deck and incredible views of the San Juan Mountains during the day and golden sunsets each evening. The 1000 sq. ft. unit has a cozy living area with a sofa sleeper, a dining room, extra half-bath, full kitchen and spacious master bedroom and bathroom with a steam shower and soaking tub. It was an incredibly comfortable and enjoyable setting. After being on a road-trip for many days, I also appreciated the fact that the unit had a washer and dryer so I could refresh my clothes. I can see how this set-up would be extremely convenient for families staying for a week or more at a time.

I had the opportunity to tour the property with Clare and was able to visit the 5-bedroom Penthouse Suite. As I entered the Penthouse, my first view was of the expansive domed window-wall showcasing a stunning panoramic view. The large, open concept living room, dining room and kitchen is an open invitation for a group gathering. As I was wandering around the suite, I kept thinking about how extraordinary it would be to share this space with family and friends for a fun vacation or holiday. I was also impressed by the fact that Clare mentioned they try to incorporate items from local artisans in an effort to support their community.

Dining

Breakfast:

Included with your stay is a generous European-Style Continental breakfast served in the bar of the hotel restaurant, Bijou. A nice display of pastries and fruit are left out for self-service and there is the option of ordering additional hot items. As an added treat, I really enjoyed sitting in the courtyard each morning chatting with the other guests and I can imagine that it must be extremely cozy in the winter months to sit inside by a roaring fire.

Dinner:

Bijou Restaurant & Lounge, located on the lobby level of the fourth floor, offers an intimate dining experience. Find a quiet table or comfortable spot on one of the comfy sofas indoors by the fire, or head outside to the patio to enjoy the seasonal menu focused on local, sustainable and organic ingredients. The friendly and inviting atmosphere of Bijou is a perfect place cap off your day. Happy Hour menu from 5.00-6.00pm. Dinner seating from 5.30pm–9.00pm

The great news is that you have limitless dining choices (see here) because you can walk to the center of the village or take the gondola into town. A few specific suggestions that come to mind are Allred’s {located at the top of gondola} for fine dining, Tomboy Tavern {located in the village} casual dining and Brown Dog Pizza {located downtown} casual dining, but there is so much more available.

Amenities

Albeit on a smaller scale, this quaint hotel offers all the amenities as its larger hotel counterparts.

Spa/Fitness/Pool:

  • Massages/Yoga/Pilates in the privacy of your luxury suite.
  • Fitness Center offers: spin bike, treadmill, elliptical and stair master along with some free weights, medicine balls and yoga mats.
  • Hot tub, warm plunge and cold splash pools and sauna.

Skiing

Conveniently located with ski-in/ski-out access to the base of Lower Boomerang trail next to lift four at Telluride Ski Resort, Lumière has partnered together with Black Tie Ski Rentals to create a seamless ski valet and equipment rental experience for your luxury ski vacation.

Alternate Activities

Winter activities are only a small part of what Telluride has to offer. The Concierge is happy to suggest and make arrangements for many other activities throughout your stay such as hiking, biking, fly-fishing, ATV rides, jeep tours and so much more.

Since my visit was during the summer months, a jeep tour to the top of Imogene Pass which goes through the ghost town of Tomboy was suggested to me….and what a wild ride it was! But the payoff was the stunning view from 14,000 feet high.

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Pet Friendly

DSC_3288I have to say that I think Telluride is the pet friendliest town I have ever been in and Lumière is happy to accommodate your well-behaved pup. They will welcome your dog by providing him/her with a dog bed and bowl along with all-natural dog treats. And for no other reason than her stunning good looks, here’s Bella that I met in the village.

In Summary

To use the term “good things come in small packages” fits perfectly when describing the Lumière Hotel. This quaint hotel offers huge benefits from its luxury accommodations, excellent service and friendly staff  to its rich amenities and great location.
I guess the same can be said about the small town of Telluride, offering exceptional winter and summer sports, fun festivals, great restaurants, fine art galleries, shops and more. Together, the combination of these two entities offers an unforgettable experience and lasting lifelong memories.
The Lumière is perfect for a fun adventure getaway, family or friends gathering, or spending the holidays in the comfort of sheer luxury. I can only speak for myself, but I could get used to this small-town mountain lifestyle.
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Antlers on the Creek | Durango, CO

@2016 Susan Edel

Whenever I travel, I’m always seeking something a little different, a unique experience that reflects its region. So in my search for a place to stay in Durango, CO, I was excited to discover Antlers on the Creek Bed & Breakfast. The images on the website showcased a warm-hearted environment with a white picket fence, rolling hills, a charming barn and luxuriously designed rooms. It almost seemed too idyllic to be true.

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Road Trip!

Happy Friday! The weekend is here ~ how about a little road trip in one of these beauties from the Gateway Canyons Auto Museum.

@2014 Susan Edel

 

Okay, this is a bit of tease since you’re not really going to get your hands on any of these rare automobiles owned by John Hendricks. These are only for your viewing pleasure ~ no drooling on the cars please.

@2014 Susan Edel
1954 Oldsmobile F-88

I’ve always loved the old woodies.

Maybe a Duesenberg is more your style.
@2014 Susan Edel

However, one of these luxury ladies can be yours for the weekend through the Driven Club

@2014 Susan Edel

@2014 Susan Edel

@2014 Susan Edel

I’ll take the convertible Bentley please…

@2014 Susan Edel

Whatever your plans may be, have a great weekend!

Sightseeing: Gateway, Colorado by UTV

What do you do when you are staying at a remote resort in the desert where the closest populated town is an hour’s drive away?

If you are at the Gateway Canyons Resort in Gateway, Colorado, your only problem is going to be how to decide amongst all of the choices available to you. This may be a remote area but Gateway Canyons’ philosophy seems to be “more room for us to play!”

@2014 Susan Edel

One of the first things I did after I got settled into my room was to head over to the resort’s Adventure Center. The Adventure Center is the hub of all the fun activities offered at the property ~ hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, shooting, off-road touring, wine country tours and so much more.

I immediately picked up a complimentary bicycle to cruise around the property and secondly, I confirmed my UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle) tour for the following day…hey, with so much to do, I didn’t want to waste any time.

@2014 Susan Edel

I was up bright and early the next morning and anxious to get the day going. I had a private UTV tour scheduled with Nick, one of the resort’s very knowledgable, adventurous and friendly staff…and then, there she was…my shiny red UTV sitting there waiting for me.

Let me preface the forthcoming statement by saying, I’m very much a girly-girl so in seeing the UTV my first thought was “this is probably going to be a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride but I’m going to be a good sport and roll with it.”

I could not have been more wrong. It’s amazing what a smooth ride (in relative terms of course) this little go-cart style vehicle offers…and believe me when I say, Nick did not spare me his adventurous side when he got behind the wheel to maneuver us around some very bumpy terrain.

From the moment we left the property driveway and started heading up the John Brown canyon road, I was in awe of what I was seeing. I was immediately immersed in the middle of the beautiful red rock canyons that surround the resort. (click on pictures to enlarge image)

Who needs to go to the national parks when you have scenery like this in your backyard.

This particular route took us up to the top of the highest point of the mesa with a stunning view of the landscape. Unfortunately, these pictures don’t begin to do the view justice.

Does anyone remember the TV segment Steve Hartman used to do on one of the major networks called “Everybody has a story”? That show used to fascinate me because Steve would throw a dart over his shoulder at a map of the U.S. and wherever it landed (usually some random small town no one had ever heard of) he would pack up and head out there and choose someone from that town to interview, and without a doubt he would uncover the most amazing stories.

Sorry, I digress, but my point is that before I arrived at Gateway, Colorado ~ a town I had never heard of ~ I truly thought that aside from this luxury resort that had popped up in the last several years, there really wasn’t any significance to this area…but I should have known, every location also has a story.

In point of fact, as we continued on with the tour, we came upon a large tower and some very rusty equipment. Nick proceeds to explain that this is equipment left over from the uranium mining that used to be (and still is) done in this area. It turns out that in the early 20th Century, Gateway was one of the areas most productive of uranium in the United States. It was interesting to see these remaining remnants as evidence of a productive existence from an earlier time. Hearing historical facts certainly gives a richness and a new appreciation for where you are.

So when I was told that there was another route that went by some outlaw cabins, I was immediately sold on another UTV tour for the next day!

Once again, an early morning rise to hop into ~ my now new favorite toy ~ my shiny, red UTV and on our way we were, on a completely new route passing by the Colorado River on our way to the outlaw cabins.

Apparently the story goes, that the Outlaw Cabins are from 1903, located in what is known as the Outlaw District of Utah, just west of Gateway. This particular area was a great place for outlaws to hide as the entire area was sealed off from Utah authorities by cliffs and jurisdiction restrictions with only one way in which was from the 4A (John Brown) road in Gateway, Colorado. It is said that some fairly notorious outlaws found shelter here and that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may even have come through this area – how cool is that?

 

Step inside the cabin, and it’s incredible to see that there is still some old newspaper on the inside walls that was used as insulation. It’s really sad to think that due to weather and wear and tear, these cabins will eventually not be around any longer.

I don’t know about you, but I’d say these were some pretty smart outlaws who managed to elude the law and live the rest of their days in this beautiful setting.

As we headed back from our excursion, I couldn’t help but to get lost in thought of what it must have been like living in this paradise setting and yet, always looking over your shoulder for someone coming after you. A paradoxical existence for sure. I certainly took it upon myself to soak in the beauty of the area and again, experience a new appreciation for the history of this land.

…and within no time, we were back to reality!

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In summary, not only did I learn that this girly-girl has a passion for UTV off-roading, but I was also reminded that everybody and everyplace has a story ~ so be curious, ask questions, and listen ~ you will be the richer for it.

 

Sightseeing: Arches National Park, Utah

I have truly grown to love the southwestern region of the United States ~ Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. The landscape is so completely different and unique to any other geography in the U.S. with its beautiful desert setting, yucca, saguaro and prickly pear cacti, looming large red rocks, rivers and so much more. This region of the country is also home to some of the most stunning national parks ~ Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and too many more to mention.

On a trip to Gateway, Colorado (Gateway Canyons Resort), I took the opportunity to take a day trip out to Arches National Park. The weather was perfect, so I opted to take the shorter 1+ hour route over the John Brown Canyon road which begins at the resort, instead of the 2-1/2 hour route via the highway. This is an easy drive, however, not a route you want to take if it is raining or wet, as a good portion of the drive is an unpaved dirt road and turns quite muddy when wet. I would also suggest only traveling this road during daylight hours.

 

It was amazing how much the terrain changed, starting off with the large red rock mesa’s, then coming to a very lush green area with some snow-capped ranges and then descending back into the red rocks but with completely different shapes and sizes.

@2014 Susan Edel
Descend into Moab.

I have been to the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park and Arches National Park does not have as massively large red rocks as the other two, but instead it offers a very unique landscape. The mesa’s have worn away over time leaving peaks and pinnacles that in my mind resemble the remains of historic ruins. I could actually make out statues, animals, faces, but of course this was all in my mind’s eye….or was it? (click on image to enlarge)

The twisted dead wood bark fascinated me.

And of course, there is a reason it’s called “Arches” National Park.

@2104 Susan Edel

Perspective…

Stunning landscape everywhere you look.

@2104 Susan Edel

 

@2104 Susan Edel

Even the drive back to Gateway was beautiful.

Approaching Gateway Canyons Resort

And back to paradise….

@2104 Susan EdelA fun day’s journey!