The Outlook Lodge: A Place in the Pines

The gentle mountain breezes began to sway the boughs of pine trees situated in front of the wraparound porch, gentle whispers of quaking aspen heard from the back patio as I rocked in my chair sipping an early-morning coffee. Colorado is known for its 300 days of sunshine, and today was not to disappoint. Located in southern Colorado near Manitou Springs, west of Colorado Springs, The Outlook Lodge is perfectly situated in the quiet mountain town of Green Mountain Falls—a location most Coloradans don’t even recognize in casual conversation.


The six-room retreat was originally constructed in 1889 as a rectory to the nearby Church in the Wildwood. Now, the humble abode has become a luxury retreat boasting chic interiors and curated artworks. Touches of timeless charm still pepper the property, while additions such as the outdoor firepit make for a cozy getaway in the sleepy town.

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Christian Keese is the visionary and owner updating The Outlook Lodge into the current 21st century abode that it is today. Splitting his time between Oklahoma City and New York, the businessman and philanthropist is visiting the property during the Green Box Arts Festival that he founded in 2007, bringing artworks he owns on loan from the Met as well as dancers from the Oklahoma City Ballet Company to perform in this off-the-path retreat for a unique art-viewing experience and unexpected dance performances and workshops.


“I jumped on the opportunity to celebrate and bring more attention to two things I appreciate very much: The arts and this town,” said Keese. “The goal is to bring nationally-acclaimed artists to this small community and provide workshops and studio for those who are not-so-well-known, while at the same time create a draw for visitors to come and discover this beautiful town and all it has to offer.” Today, I see the piece “Cloud City” by Tomas Saraceno on the hillside; the geometric mirrored reflections bouncing images of Colorado blue skies and deep forest greens within the massive sculpture usually at home on the rooftop of the Met. The 20-ton piece seems oddly at home nestled into the hillside for its temporary cross-country exhibition in the sleepy mountain town. The piece has since been removed and will be replaced this summer with a new art piece “10 Swings” a musical, interactive swing set.

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I decide to stroll down the dirt main street to the picturesque gazebo that is the centerpiece of Green Mountain Falls. Surrounded by a small lake, locals fish in the waters while I soak in the sunshine on a park bench. Pike National Forest surrounds the town on three sides, the fresh mountain air is invigorating and sense of still a rarity in locations a mere thirty minutes from larger cities.


My room, one of the two Carriage House Bay Window Rooms, overlooks the sloping gardens of the lodge. Contemporary furniture and finishes compliment the Victorian rustic feel in an unexpected symbiosis. Ample light comes in from the bay windows, creating little nooks to be enjoyed throughout the day. Small touches appear throughout the property, from antique mailboxes to Pronghorn antlers, rich wood paneling to contemporary streamline finishes which only further the warmth and approachability of this retreat.


A perfect hideaway to spend hours on the porch enjoying a good read from The Outlook Lodge’s library or to appreciate unexpected artworks or performances, The Outlook Lodge is a hidden gem in Colorado. If needing an urban infusion, nearby Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs also supply a plethora of activities before returning the oasis in the pines, The Outlook Lodge.

Glamping on the Rise: Travel + Leisure Lists 20 Glamping Properties Among 70 Best New Hotels in the World

It’s official: glamping has arrived, landing on the 2014 Travel + Leisure “It List” in no small fashion. With only the “coolest new hotels that are changing the travel landscape” making the list, glamping makes its mark with 20 properties (nearly 30%) that feature glamping as their primary accommodation, nestled among urban trendsetters, scene makers, and Next-Gen business hotels. The best glamping spots easily keep pace with the “hip,” “swank,” and “luxurious” newcomers, bringing with them “experiential travel” to round out a list that prides itself on recognizing the most exciting changes in the travel landscape.

1000-7_000 Mahali Mzuri

From jungle to savanna, and snow-topped mountains to tropical islands, choices are what is cool about glamping. Glamping accommodations that made the T+L list were safari lodges, beach resorts, and “remote outposts.”  It List safari lodge choices range from the traditional, such as Chinzombo in Zambia that offers “stylish austerity and unforgettable wildlife encounters”  to Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri in Kenya that T+L refers to as a “futuristic riff on the classic East African lodge,” with tents resembling  “spaceships.”

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Beach resorts on the list span the globe from great escapes in the Caribbean like Eden Roc in Dominican Republic and The Cove Eleuthera Resort and Spa to sublime island resorts like Australia’s Bedarra Island Resort, Hawaii’s modern, renovated Andaz Maui Villas, and the decadent Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives.

Not surprisingly, several “remote outposts” are listed, such as Cresto Ranch and Outlook Lodge, both in Colorado.  What may initially come as a surprise however is a property in the United Arab Emirates, Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Al Sahel Villa Resort, until you learn that it is set amid “savanna-like grasslands of Sir Bani Yas Island’s famed Arabian Wildlife Park,” a welcome surprise indeed.

Bathhouse_at_duskDunton Hot Springs and Cresto Ranch

What may not come as a surprise are the price tags. To be the best in the world often means the most expensive, and glamping by Travel + Leisure standards can be pretty pricey, with 14 of their glamping choices (70%) costing guests $500 or more a night. Five properties in the more reasonable range of $350-500 were Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel, Selfoss, Iceland, the culturally rich Anantara Xishuangbanna Resort and Spa in China, and It List five time winner Hotel Escondido in Mexico. One bargain made the list Outlook Lodge of Colorado Springs, Colorado, costing less than $200 a night. Regardless of price however, a discerning traveler on the lookout for a new experience will find that it really is no surprise that glamping is on the rise.