By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
‘Tis the season of love and these four getaways are creative and cozy. All destinations are less than three hours away from Northern Colorado, and from craft beer to baby goats, they are sure to please.
Sweethearts in Salida
The Mountain Goat Lodge, a stone’s throw outside of Salida, is for couples who love to learn, and while it’s not mandatory to like goats, it helps. This is a bed and breakfast plus farm. Gina Marcell, the innkeeper, provides homemade breakfast each morning, and she isn’t just a great cook, she’s also an excellent teacher.
She can put together classes for two to learn cheese making, goat care or how to raise backyard chickens. Marcell doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk raising goats, chickens, ducks and food in her greenhouse. Much of what is served for breakfast is grown right on the property.
The lodge has two suites complete with replaces. The suites’ balconies offer breathtaking views of the mountains and the rolling hills of the Arkansas Valley. The region boasts views of the Sawatch Range, the Mosquito Range and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the sparkling Arkansas River cutting through this high-altitude valley.
A stay comes with breakfast served in the lodge’s dining room or in the suite. Guests are also welcome to meet Marcell’s herd of goats. Protected by Spenser, the llama (full name Spenser for Hire), these are well-loved and friendly goats. In the spring of this year, around 20 baby goats will be on the farm, and guests are encouraged to meet these silly and lovable youngsters.
This dog-friendly property has its own nature trail for guests to explore. There are also seasonally available retro campers to rent as well as two teepees for campers.
Twenty-five minutes from Monarch Mountain, Mountain Goat Lodge is well-located for outdoor recreation. There’s also dog sledding and a tubing park at Monarch. Ten minutes away, Salida offers an array of restaurants as well as a riverfront pathway on the Arkansas River.
Fireside in Vail
Vail may bring to mind fashionable people and swishing down a mountainside of snow, and this little ski town does have its fair share of folks sporting fur. However, without a doubt, the unpretentious side of Vail lives at Antlers at Vail.
This property is located in Lionshead Village, a short riverside walk to Vail Village. Lionshead includes ski lifts, an ice-skating rink, restaurants and a well-equipped market. The Little Diner, one of the best breakfast joints in the Vail Valley, is located just two minutes by foot from Antlers.
Antlers at Vail has everything from studio suites to four-bedroom, four-bath condos. A one-bedroom is the ideal size for a romantic vacation. The condo features a full-sized kitchen, a replace and a balcony overlooking Gore Creek and Vail Mountain.
Have dinner delivered from one of Vail’s fantastic eateries or have meals prepared by Antler’s Chef Barry. The chef can provide a freshly made breakfast, lunch, dinner and even aprés ski right to the condo’s dining room table. What is more romantic than a meal with that special someone in front of a roaring fire with the Gore Creek splashing by outside? Nothing.
The property includes pet-friendly condos and easy access to the paved Gore Valley Trail, making it easy to exercise Fido. There are many nearby snowshoe trails, plus two off-leash dog parks in Vail.
One of the most beautiful pool areas in Vail belongs to Antlers. Open year-round, the pool and two hot
tubs, above Gore Creek, currently require reservations. A guest is welcome to make those when they check-in. Hourly time slots are available at the top of each hour and the pool area is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Cowboy Getaway in Loveland
Just minutes west of Loveland, Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch feels miles away. Head down the gravel road, past a barn, over the Big Thompson River, and there it is, that little corner of the world where all stress melts away. All a guest has to do at Sylvan Dale is enjoy the peacefulness of nature and the warmth of a firelit cabin.
While this is a guest ranch that welcomes families and couples to ride horses, round up cattle and live the ranch lifestyle for a week, cabins are rentable for the weekend. There are two cabins in particular that are perfect for couples.
Tucked into the trees with views of the ranch’s riverside grounds are the Sweetheart cabins, affectionately named Baby Doe and Annie Oakley. Both are conveniently appointed with a bedroom, private bathroom, a living room with a replace and a kitchenette complete with a refrigerator for keeping the wine cold.
A stay at Sylvan Dale comes with a hot breakfast delivered each morning to the cabin. Dinner
can also be ordered to the cabin if the ranch is providing dinners on that particular evening, think barbecue or crab and chicken gumbo or pot roast.
If the ranch is not offering dinner on the nights in question, Loveland’s restaurants offer an array of items from steak to Asian cuisine. Or pack food and use the kitchenette to whip up a scrumptious dinner for two.
The 3,000 acreage of the property offers a chance to get out and explore the land. A jaunt up Green Ridge rewards the hiker with a panoramic view of the area. Hikes here also are an opportunity to see wildlife. Lots of animals call the region home such as wild turkeys, coyotes, migratory birds and more. The ranch’s wildlife camera has even captured footage of bobcats and mountain lions.
Guests are invited to see this expansive ranch on horseback by booking a trail ride during their stay. Various trails wind around the property, dipping into groves of cottonwood and crossing babbling brooks. Whether a person has years of riding experience or absolutely none, an experienced wrangler will safely guide the ride.
Another way to see the ranch is to book a wagon ride. The wagon is pulled by two big Belgians or a pair of shiny black Percherons. These gentle giants will whisk the wagon through the landscape while guests sit back and appreciate the scenery.
Hot Springs Love in Wyoming
A little over two hours from the border of Colorado is a Wyoming town that time forgot. There are no stoplights in Saratoga and that’s the way the town, with a population of 1,600, like it.
What the town lacks in traf c and crowds, it makes up for in beauty and hot springs. Not only is there the Hobo Hot Pool that’s free and open 24-hours a day to the public, but there is also a hot springs resort that makes a charming destination.
It is now the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort, but there have been buildings on the site since 1877. Today, it is a haven for soakers, craft beer lovers, spa-goers and weddings. The resort is a little oasis from the crazy world.
It features the Snowy Mountain Brewpub with 11 beers on tap. The outdoor Biergarten with twinkling
lights in the trees is magical on a cold winter’s night. The restaurant’s new chef has created a menu full of delicious items such as pulled pork tacos, pizza and ribeye.
The resort’s own spa, Healing Waters Spa, is located next to the hot springs’ teepees and pools. It doesn’t get dreamier than a dip in a pool shrouded in mist followed by a couples massage. Of course, it’s the hot springs that most people come here for and without a doubt they are unique.
There is a large pool, several smaller pools for soaking, and three more pools covered in teepees for privacy and protection from the weather. However, soaking here with softly falling snow melting into the warm water is a magical experience.
The poolside king suites have atscreen televisions and rustic yet comfy decor. Romance packages are available, complete with chocolate and champagne because Saratoga Resort knows this is a splendid spot to rekindle that romantic flame.
The town, though small, has one of Wyoming’s nest Italian restaurants, Bella’s Bistro. People come from around the state to get a table here, so reservations are recommended. The Saratoga Sandwich Company and the Hotel Wolf’s pub, circa 1893, get rave reviews.
There are over 100 miles of freestone rivers owing through the area and blue-ribbon fishing is a favorite pastime. Easy access to the Snowy Range and Sierra Madre Mountains means that winter activities abound, and the resort staff can help guests set up snowmobile outings and more.
From hot springs to horses, this lodge, ski property, guest ranch, and resort offer couples fun and relaxation. Perhaps it is breakfast in bed or a curated snowmobile outing—no detail has been overlooked. Whether it involves wagons or simply soaking in a hot springs pool, this will be a trip to remember for years to come.
Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is a freelance writer from Loveland. She is the founder of HeidiTown.com and covers travel, festivals and The West. To comment on this article, email firstname.lastname@example.org.