For me it was a rocky mountain high in more ways than one. I’d climbed from sea level to a lofty 5,000-plus-foot altitude in the short amount of time it takes to fly from Los Angeles to Denver, and even hiking up the steps to the Devil’s Thumb Ranch lobby was an aerobic experience.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch is a 5,000-acre eco-friendly property located in the Ranch Creek Valley at the foot of the Continental Divide. Just 65 miles from Denver, the ranch is surrounded by acres of open grassland and piney woods. The scents and sounds are organic and soothing, and the accommodations are rustic yet elegant — the perfect place to decompress from big-city stress and circuit overload.
“Why ‘Devil’s Thumb’?” I asked, as we drove into the ranch, headed for the lodge.
The driver pointed to a rocky outcropping towering high above the ranch that looked like (what else?) a thumb. Legend has it that once the battling Ute and Arapahoe tribes finally settled their differences, they buried the devil but left his thumb exposed to remind them of the evils of war.
The original ranch homestead was built in the 1930s. In the 1940s it opened as a vacation destination and continued to be both a working and dude ranch until the 1970s. Following various incarnations, it began to morph into its present state when Bob and Suzanne Fanch purchased it in 2001.
Under the couple’s ownership, Devil’s Thumb has turned into a decidedly “green” resort. Their commitment to running the ranch as an environmentally sensitive operation has won them numerous awards. Some of the ranch’s many environmentally friendly practices include a geothermal heating system, EPA-approved wood-burning fireplaces, environmentally sensitive cleaning products, a comprehensive recycling program, recycled asphalt roads and a land preservation plan that allows only 2 percent of the 5,000 acres to be used for ranch buildings and facilities.
Having puffed my way up the front steps, I stepped into the main lodge. The lobby was spacious and cozy at the same time. There was wood everywhere — walls, ceiling, floors, you name it. Wonderfully cushy leather chairs and couches snuggled up to a roaring fire. Cowboy and Western memorabilia — hats, spurs and boots — and excellent original Western-influenced artwork combined to create a beautifully executed Western-themed environment that was classy without being formal.
My large-but-cozy room in the main lodge had a covered patio that overlooked flowering meadows and distant mountains. The high bed with its luxurious down comforter and plethora of pillows looked inviting, but hunger won out: I headed to Heck’s Tavern for lunch.
While ranch activities sounded tempting, I decided to give my body time to adjust to the altitude change before engaging in any active pursuits. The spa beckoned.
Housed in its own building a short walk from the lodge, the 12,000-square-foot Ranch Creek Spa opened in February 2008. As with the rest of the ranch, the emphasis is on environmentally friendly practices. Beetle-kill pine — the wood from dead standing trees, killed by beetles — has been used throughout the spa’s interior. Products, geared toward high altitude, sun-soaked and four-season weather conditions, are made from 100-percent natural ingredients.
There are eight treatment rooms, including a 700-square-foot couple’s suite, men’s and women’s locker rooms, a sauna, steam room, oxygen therapy room, reception lounges, a yoga and fitness studio and a small boutique.
Someone had fun naming the treatments: Up a Creek, a hot stone massage; The Stampede, using deep tissue techniques; and Field o’ Greens, a facial using eight different greens, including yucca and flax seed. For the ultimate in pampering you can sign up for the four-hour Lazy Days package. This includes a facial, a soak in a tub infused with dried buttermilk and oils, a massage and a foot treatment, all topped off with a glass of wine and a cheese platter.
A cheery fire crackled away in the natural stone fireplace as I filled out the pre-treatment questionnaire before heading upstairs to the changing and treatment rooms. After donning a sparkling-white robe and matching slippers, I met my esthetician, Terry, who ushered me into a dimly lit room. I’d opted for the Snow Bunny facial, which promised to help replenish moisture lost in a high, dry climate like that of Colorado. It also promised to leave me radiant and more youthful, which sounded dandy to me.
The Snow Bunny facial uses all organic Eminence products, including, appropriately, the Carrot Vitamin Masqueis, which is comprised of carrots, orange pulp, honey, lemon, vanilla, zinc oxide, linseed and vitamins A, C and E. One or two more ingredients and I’d have been a carrot cake. The low lights, New Age music and fresh-smelling lotions and potions just about lulled me to sleep as Terry worked her magic. The treatment ended all too soon.
After a stint in the sauna followed by a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, I was feeling refreshed and revived. I figured by morning I’d be ready to tackle the altitude and hit one of the ranch’s hiking trails.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
3530 County Road 83
Tabernash, CO 80478
tel 800 933 4339
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
Southwest Airlines is adding new flights to, from and within Hawai’i, beginning mid-January 2020. The airline will add a new daily service between Sacramento International Airport and Honolulu (HON), plus new non-stop flights between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) and both Kauai (LIH) and the Island of Hawai’i (KOA).
The Luxury Collection welcomes its eighth property in China with the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. The property is situated in the capital of the Guangxi Province, in a high-rise landmark building in the business district.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.