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
JetBlue Vacations recently relaunched, offering travelers bundled experiences and allowing them to purchase flights, hotel stays, car rentals and more in one spot for one price. Bundles now include additional benefits, such as free in-flight beverages, earlier flight boarding and no change fees.
The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.
Ahead of its 20th anniversary, JetBlue will make several changes to its schedule and routes. This means new flights to Guatemala City, more flights in popular JetBlue markets and routes and adjustments to Caribbean and West Coast flights.
The Westin New Orleans recently completed a massive, $30 million revitalization, touching on every part of the hotel. Major renovations were made to guestrooms, social spaces and meeting and event spaces. New dining establishments and meeting venues were added as well.
Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
Istanbul Airport added 25 sleeping cabins for passengers to nap between flights. The IGA Sleepod rents out cabins for €6 ($6.50) an hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., and for €9 ($9.70) an hour between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
United Airlines recently announced the approval of 24 additional gates at Denver International Airport. United plans to grow its Denver hub from 500 daily flights to as many as 700 by 2025. The additional gates are part of the airport’s $1.5 billion concourse expansion and are planned for Concourses A and B. United will add a new United Club on Concourse A, as well as expand existing United Clubs at the airport.
oneworld is an alliance of 13 world-leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and connecting you to more than 1,100 destinations around the world.