Ranch at Emerald Valley: A Gem in the Mountains

The Broadmoor Resort and Spa is known for its 5-Star, 5-Diamond status, so when a glamping opportunity is available through the world-renowned resort, guests know they are in for a treat. Located 40 minutes from the Colorado Springs haven via private transfer, the Ranch at Emerald Valley is a luxury lodging opportunity set in a serene mountain environment high in the Colorado foothills.

Main Cabin Lake view vert

Originally a logging operation and then an exclusive fishing camp, the historic grounds have been re-purposed for the Ranch at Emerald Valley. Offering private log cabins complete with wood-burning fireplaces, heated floors and bathrooms that are not only chic but rustically charming, the ranch is primed for a luxury stay akin to the Broadmoor. Two central, stocked fishing ponds are ideal for idling away the afternoon, with gourmet chefs on-hand to cook your catch of several varieties of trout or help release back into the stream-fed waters.


Wild raspberries appear throughout the property in season, ripe for picking they are the most organic, natural fruit you may ever have. Nibbling a few on my hike up the Emerald Valley Pipeline Trail, we passed towering aspen groves, crystal clear mountain streams, and a historic cabin fireplace that make for a wonderful and scenic hike steps from the central camp. Horseback riding is also available from the stables and knowledgeable guides speak of the history and ecology of the local area.


Back at camp, the Olde Swan Tavern bar is a perfect place to grab a cocktail or glass of wine to take to the outdoor deck overlooking the fishing pond. Better yet- the fireplaced gazebo overlooking the lower pond as the sun sets over the valley with nearby two outdoor Jacuzzis. Attentive Broadmoor staff, for which the resort is known, are perfectly placed around the property; attentive but not overbearing, warm and welcoming without being a nuisance. Archery, horseshoes, canoeing and board games are also available as entertainment at Emerald Valley Ranch, where cellphone reception is sparse at best and fairly non-existent for the time being. A welcome respite from the day-to-day phone calls, texts, and social media-alerts via phone, WiFi is available on property so techies are not completely cut off from the digital world.

copper cabin interior v

Meals are one of the highlights at the Ranch at Emerald Valley. Treated to a scrumptious breakfast, light but tasteful buffet lunch and several course dinner, the culinary experience at Broadmoor delights throughout their property, even in the middle of the 100,000 acres of Pike National Forest in which the lodge is set. Utilizing local ingredients and approachable game recipes, sommelier suggestions made our meal even more delicious with perfectly paired wines with succulent offerings such as Wagyu beef ribeye, Colorado Lamb medallions and other seasonal fare. Save room for pre- and post-dessert nibbles as well. A ramekin of fresh blueberry compote over a bite of creamy panna cotta before receiving a sizzling skillet of fresh Palisade Peach cobbler with creamy ice cream, finished with house-made hazelnut truffles as a post-meal finish was delightful, if filling. I had to pass on the campfire s’mores…


Lodging at the Ranch at Emerald Valley is exceptional, the ten cabins on property unique and full of character. The cozy bungalows are free of television; fireside lounges and legendary Broadmoor beds make for a luxury in-room camping experience. Pre-prepared logs in the fireplace beg to be lit for an aroma that will fill the room with fresh pine and mountain air as the sound of the cascading water feature on property seeps through the windows. Thoughtful touches, such as the horseshoe-material door pulls and historic western art pieces only enhance the look and feel of the property. Starlit skies and the feeling of being “away from it all” comingle with the well-kept greenbelts and splashes of wildflowers on property. Thick forests, fresh mountain breezes, and chattering squirrels allow for a relaxing, nature-filled summer vacation spot in the mountains.

To book your reservations at the Ranch at Emerald Valley, visit www.broadmoor.com/EmeraldValleyRanch. From visiting with guests around the Main Lodge firepit to exploring the surrounding wilderness, the Ranch at Emerald Valley is a beautiful glamping experience to be had in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Taming the Wilds of Patagonia

The most extreme and breathtaking landscapes don’t always come right out and present themselves–you have to track them down (often with a little help from the experts).  For our trip to Torres del Paine, Chile’s most remote and alluring national park, EcoCamp Patagonia was our outfitter of choice. Their professional guides and luxurious accommodations turned what seemed like a wild abyss, into an inviting, indulgent, and invigorating oasis.


The five-star treatment started with a hotel pick-up all the way in El Calafate, Argentina and being shepherded across the Chilean border to Puerto Natales. There we were greeted with another chauffeur who dropped us off at the cutest gourmet cafe to regain our strength and get a taste of the incredible Chilean wines and meals to come.


Our drive to EcoCamp kept our jaws agape for the entire ride. The massive mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and soaring condors had us pulling over for photo stops every couple miles. Thank goodness for a patient driver!


EcoCamp is made of geodesic dome structures, inspired by the sturdy, agile, and natural homes of a 15th-century nomadic Patagonian tribes. Leaving as little footprint as possible, all amenities are powered by solar and hydro energy and the camp’s sophisticated compost system combats nearly all waste.


As fate would have it, EcoCamp officially refers to their style of lodging as “Glamping” and in the most luxurious sense of the word. Our honeymoon-worthy Suite Dome had a massive canopy bed with the coziest bedding, a fireplace, and chic lighting to set the mood.


Then for the ultimate feature…an unobstructed view to the majestic Torres. The three jagged peaks are the “towers” that give the park its name and much of its allure.


There are infinite adventures to be had in Torres del Paine and your fun, friendly and knowledgeable guides can help make any of them possible—from the iconic “W” trek around the Torres to Patagonia Puma tracking. To get our bearings we started with the scenic drive through Torres del Paine National Park and a sunset sail to Glacier Grey. Our guides gave us a great overview of the park pointing out the various peaks, available hikes, lakes and the llama’s adorable cousin, the Guancos.

08-AlmiranteNieto Peaks-honeytrek

We arrived to the harbor and felt that between the floating icebergs and the stunning Almirante Nieto peaks, we could have gone home happy…but the gorgeous Glacier Grey was waiting for us in the distance.


As we sailed closer to Grey and as its electric blue crevasses came into focus, we began to grasp the magnitude of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field: the second largest contiguous extrapolar ice field left in existence. To top off the day, the crew served everyone a round of whiskey on the rocks (aka mini glacial icebergs).


Unlike most hotels, EcoCamp makes camaraderie amongst fellow glampers a top priority. Every night a cocktail hour is held in the Core Dome where everyone gathers for Pisco Sours, a bounty of appetizers (scallops, cheese, olives, meats, the works!), and to recount stories from their day exploring the park. Dinner follows, serving delights like quinoa gnocci and grilled lamb paired with Chilean wine (all included in the price of your stay).


As much as we would have loved to stay a week to trek “The W,” we got a taste with a fabulous day hike to the base of the Torres. Ascending the gorgeous and windswept moraine (Patagonia vocab word meaning a U-shaped valley shaped by a glacier), we arrived to the namesake towers.  The vista literally took our breath away as we stared at the raw cliff face, teal lakes, and snow-capped peaks.

Patagonia is one of the most gorgeous places on the planet, with Torres del Paine its crown jewel…but it’s the accommodations, cuisine, service and expert guiding of EcoCamp that truly made this place shine.

Glamping Review: Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Near Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

When the chartered prop plane flew passed Kilimanjaro’s snowy peak, I knew that the adventure that comes standard with a safari in the Serengeti awaited. However, when my traveling companions and I landed on the grassy private airstrip at Cottar’s 1920s Camp just outside Kenya’s Masai Mara National Park, I realized that not only would it be an adventure, but a trip back in time.


That’s because this luxury camp is a throwback to a golden age of safaris, when glamorous and camping need not be merged into the portmanteau glamping. Back then, high standards came with the territory; camping was simply “living out in the bush in style.” Cottar’s 1920s Camp delivers what its moniker implies: a high-end safari camp as it was in the early 20th century, when the Western World got wind of explorers’ tales in sub-Saharan Africa. It was Teddy Roosevelt’s tales that inspired one Charles Cottar to go to East Africa from America, and eventually move his family there in 1915 to establish a safari service — one that has endured for almost a century through his descendants — complete with the first American vehicles to grace the Kenyan countryside.


A vintage Ford Model A (refitted with a modern Land Rover engine) picked us up, and the transport continued to be both spatial and seemingly temporal. We were welcomed at the main mess tent, which boasted an elegance of yesteryear with fine Oriental rugs, gramophones, old typewriters, and other antique tchotchkes. I felt like I should have packed a vintage pith helmet, but soon noticed some nearby for me to don. Meanwhile, the Kenyan staff sported red fezzes to complement their formal white uniforms, which seemed a little odd to me at first; in reality, we’re not actually in the old era of European imperialism — but I will admit, it did add to the charm.


Game drives at Cottar’s were scheduled like most safari outfitters: early in the morning and near dusk, the optimal times to see wildlife on the move — or on the prowl, depending on its position on the food chain. Shaded, open-air Land Rovers (modern ones) drove us through Cottar’s own 6,000-acre private reserve and parts of Masai Mara National Park, to shoot the zebras, elephants, and multitude of antelopes with our cameras. The highlight was our chance lion encounter, and despite the sight of blood, we were enthralled as a pride munched down on a buffalo carcass merely 25 feet in front of us.


Dining in the outdoors always provided a sense of awe. After one morning game drive, our guide drove us to a shaded area for a short hike, only to reveal a glamorous picnic set up in the bush — glam-nicking perhaps? — a moveable brunch staffed by a bartender and a chef manning a propane-powered omelet station. Sundowners at the end of an afternoon game drive weren’t as filling; in lieu of orange yolks in skillets was the giant one in the sky sinking down into the horizon, which exuded an unavoidable sense of awe while we sipped gin and tonics around a campfire.


Suppers at Cottar’s 1920s Camp were something of a time paradox. Dining on multi-course meals featuring steaks, risotto, and red snapper worthy of a Michelin-rated restaurant were reminders that we were still in a modern time of rapid importation and refrigeration, despite the shadows our silverware being cast by the little flames atop old candelabras, and the ambient 1920s jazz. Although our wine-influenced dinner conversations amongst my fellow travelers were free-spirited, I believed we were dignitaries in a Hemingway novel.


I felt quite dignified staying in one of the “standard” tents — which had fairly high standards of any era. The canvas enclosure was as spacious as a large hotel room, but felt larger in the daytime when the staff rolled up three of the walls to let the breeze pass over the antique wooden furniture and bed — a bed that was especially comfortable after I’d been startled and realized that the hot water bottle put under my comforter with the turndown service was not a hiding wild animal. The fourth wall was never broken for it led to the bathroom with plumbing for hot showers and an old-fashioned pull chain toilet.


My tent was one sanctuary for the leisurely afternoons in camp. It was where the camp’s masseuse ported the spa experience with a massage table, and where I’d sit in a rocking chair on the shaded “porch” and gaze out at the Mara while sipping on a complimentary glass of sherry from the tent’s decanter. Swimming was also an option at the camp’s infinity pool. Its design may have been a flash-forward to the modern world, but “bush baths” in canvas tubs were alternatively available for those who wanted to relax in suds in a wilder, more old-fashioned way.


The safari experience may have evolved over the decades in Kenya, but if you want to do it in vintage style, Cottar’s 1920s Camp successfully recreates the romance, elegance, and adventure of safari’s hey-day. As I donned a pith helmet from the mess tent and hopped in a vintage Ford, I realized that going on safari with Cottars 1920s Camp is more than glamping; it’s also glam-time travel.