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Welcome To The Home Ranch

in Activities/Hotels & Resorts/Mountain Activities/Mountain Hotels & Resorts/Uncategorized by



When it comes to vacation, many people just want to get away from it all. Whether that means powering down from a high-stress job in the city, or physically abandoning day-to-day obligations, we often feel compelled to leave home in order to relax, rest and perhaps even enjoy a new adventure.

Arriving for the first time at The Home Ranch – the state’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch and all-inclusive, family-friendly summer vacation destination – there’s a very real, very refreshing sense of isolation. Nestled in the heart of the Elk River Valley, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs and bordering thousands of acres of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest land, you immediately feel a long distance from wherever you journeyed. But that distance is welcome. You begin to unwind from the bustling, city-light drenched, mile-a-minute lives we lead. Fresh mountain air expands your lungs, and blue skies dazzle your view. As General Manager Brooks Bradbury and Guest Services Manager Selina Heintz greet you upon check-in, they take your bags with warm smiles and a delightfully unexpected greeting: “Welcome Home.”

Finding Home in Clark, Colorado

It all began nearly 40 years ago, when Toledo, Ohio residents Ann and Steve Stranahan (brother of George Stranahan of Colorado whiskey fame) met Ken and Sharon Jones, cattle ranchers from Montana. The four decided they would start their own ranch. The Stranahans were vacationing in Steamboat Springs with their four children when they discovered a 580-acre swath of alpine ranchland in the Elk River Valley, in a small settlement called Clark. This was during what locals call a “Three-wire-winter” – meaning the snow was so high that it reached the tops of the barbed-wire fences separating the roads from the cattle ranches.

From first glance, the Stranahans were transfixed with the area. Later, Ann would write a poem about the experience of seeing the land for the first time, exploring the several hundred acres on cross-country skis with Steve.

The Stranahans purchased that land, “laying impermanent claim,” as Ann writes,  to the natural beauty they discovered there. The land they would eventually transform into a guest ranch would change their lives, and change the face of Clark itself. It was here they established The Home Ranch.

Staying at The Home Ranch

The owners intentionally modeled the ranch after early western homesteads – not the imitation ski chalets popular in the late 1970s, but a more rustic, low-lying look somewhere between a high-country cabin and a farm cottage. As the property has grown, they have added private cabins alongside the main lodge house. Today, there’s a barn that hosts Wednesday night dances, and a spot for weekly bonfire cookouts. There’s a garden and greenhouse, a downright swanky chicken coop, and a hay pasture for grazing horses – 78 of them to be precise, including an irritable yet adorable miniature horse and a beloved donkey named Poncho.

All of this creates a summertime playground for guests of all ages and abilities, who plan their weeklong stays with equal parts respite and recreation. You might learn to fly fish in the gently babbling Elk River, or perfect your horsemanship skills on long back-country rides. You might choose to join a guided hiking trip along the 11-mile Zirkel Circle – practically untouched by Front Range 14er-baggers – or charter a hot air balloon ride for an exhilarating journey high above the rugged peaks. There are constant diversions for kids, from horseback riding to pond fishing to arts and crafts – and, of course, plenty of afternoon ice cream breaks at the local Clark Store.             

For many, simply wandering the property between hearty gourmet meals proves fulfilling. That’s because The Home Ranch treats guests to all-inclusive haute cuisine by Executive Chef Jonathon Gillespie, who sources locally (and we mean locally) as much as possible. Beef comes from neighboring Sand Mountain Cattle Company, and charcuterie is made in-house. Pork, poultry and produce, including lettuce, carrots, corn, peas and radishes, along with herbs and flowers, are raised and grown onsite. Plus, desserts by Pastry Chef Douglas Short round out every meal, and freshly baked cookies stacked on a platter in the foyer make irresistible late-night snacks.

During meals, guests sit at long community tables, sipping rare wines and Colorado craft beers, unwittingly laying the foundation for lifelong friendships. What might begin as a conversation over breakfast flapjacks and fresh-squeezed orange juice will often continue over barbecued chicken and grilled whitefish on the patio at lunch. By dinnertime, over dishes of Colorado lamb chops or Parisian-style gnocchi with Home Ranch garden greens, those same guests are exchanging family photos and email addresses, already making plans for a return trip at the same time next year.

The Ranching Way of Life

Part of the magic of The Home Ranch is how it trots the line between high-class and high-country. There’s an admirable success in providing a luxury experience on an otherwise harsh landscape (the growing season is an impossible 59 days, and winters regularly reach 40 degrees below zero). Yet, that unflinching emphasis on hospitality lives alongside an undying respect for the land and those who have lived and worked it for generations.

In fact, the Home Ranch and its neighboring ranches have made it a mission over the years not only to create a destination getaway for discerning travelers, but to protect and preserve the surrounding land and ranching way of life by placing more than 8,000 acres of the Upper Elk River Valley into a permanent conservation easement, meaning the land will remain undeveloped for generations to come.

This wasn’t always a popular notion in a place where land developers mine profits in hills that were once mined for gold. Finding like-minded individuals to keep the land pure and undeveloped, however, has enhanced the beauty of the landscape. Over its lifetime, The Home Ranch has grown from 580 acres to 4,000 – land that encompasses hayfields and hillsides where horses graze and calves are born in the spring, where herds of deer gather and graze, and where guests can hike, bike, and fish on land that likely will remain this beautiful for centuries.

Welcome Home

It may seem impossible that this place – with its vibrant green hills, distant frosted peaks, gentle horses and graceful river – could ever truly be home. But in the communities that form over meals and around bonfires, in the shared experiences on the land, and in the stories of days gone by, there lies an inescapable sense of belonging. You may be far from home, but you’re right where you need to be.

Learn more and book your stay at

A Home of Your Own

Some guests visit The Home Ranch year after year before finally deciding to move permanently to Clark. For those who cannot imagine life anywhere else, there’s the Murphy-Larsen Ranch: a conservation-oriented residential project managed by The Home Ranch that offers ownership opportunities in a breathtaking setting. Learn more at

Curtis Hotel – An Icon of Pop Culture

in Front Range Hotels & Resorts/Hotels & Resorts by


     Picture this: you’ve just arrived in Denver for a long weekend — or maybe you’re a local taking a staycation — and you know you’re in for a treat the moment you lay eyes on your lodging for the weekend: The Curtis Hotel, smack in the middle of Denver’s hip theater district. From the 42-foot All Together Now sculpture standing like a tower of children’s blocks on the street corner, to the sound of clinking martini glasses from The Corner Office restaurant and martini bar, the area is buzzing with the sights and sounds of urban Mile High.


From the second you step inside The Curtis, you can tell this is no “traditional” hotel. Is it the pop of the bright orange accent colors? The “world’s largest Lite-Brite” art hanging inside the lobby lounge? The reception clerk challenging guests to games of rock-paper-scissors upon check-in?

Whatever it is, The Curtis Hotel’s independent and funky spirit shines through in all these ways and more. Opened in 2007 on April 19 (which happens to be Bart Simpson’s birthday, if that tells you anything), The Curtis has always been a bit of a maverick in the hospitality world. Though it became a DoubleTree by Hilton in 2010, it’s never lost its hip sensibility thanks to Denver’s own Sage Hospitality and a commitment to keeping alive the original idiosyncrasies.

     Inside the recently renovated lobby you’ll find glimpses of local art alongside funky orange light fixtures, tufted leather armchairs, and a wall of pop fiction books and classic board games. The check-in desk is another major touchpoint for showing off that personality, and again the fun and games shine through. Want an upgrade to your room? Challenge the receptionist to a hula hoop contest. During the recent Summer Olympics, people could enter $5 to guess the latest gold medal counts for a chance at a free stay. The money collected went toward Sage Hospitality’s Dollars for Dreams, which supports different charitable recipients each quarter.

     Along with the fun and philanthropy, the hotel recently announced the implementation of Digital Key access for each of its 336 guest rooms. This allows guests to check in, choose their exact room from a digital floor plan, and request a Digital Key all through the HHonors app.

     “Most of our loyal guests are incredibly tech-savvy,” said General Manager and “Starship Captain” Scott Sloan. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer HHonors members this cutting-edge Digital Key technology and give them an easier, more convenient stay.”


Once you check in, ride the talking elevator (which announces each stop with cartoonish voices overhead) to your floor, where the fun really begins. In 2014, each of the guest floors at The Curtis was renovated to reflect its own music, film, or pop culture theme intended to deepen and differentiate the hotel experience.

     From the Sci-fi floor, to the Chick Flick floor, to the Dun Dun Dunnnnn! floor occupying the 13th story, each is decorated with movie posters, custom art, and thematic touches to bring out the different motifs. While every room offers modern amenities balanced by touches of retro pop art, the 13 “hyper-themed” rooms and three 1-bedroom suites take it to another level entirely. In these rooms, every detail is fine-tuned to fit the topic, from the wall vinyls to the curtains to the art on the walls.

     For instance, the 15th Mad About Music floor features a hyper-themed KISS suite, fittingly decorated with KISS concert photos, a face-painted panda, and black leather furniture fit for a rock star (no smoking guitars or pyrotechnics required). In the 13th floor’s Ghostbusters-themed room, green “Slimer” floor tiles and ghostly 3D art add spooky touches.

     But it’s the sixth floor that garners the most attention. “The Fun and Games Floor is by far our best-selling floor,” says Marketing and Graphic Design Manager Ty Shell. “It’s very popular with families, and always fills up when Comic Con comes to town.” Step onto the sixth floor landing and you’ll feel like you’ve tumbled into a game of Pac-Man, complete with ghost-shaped room number placards and joysticks on the console tables.

     The best part? The rooms and floors at The Curtis are constantly evolving. Later this year, the eighth-level Sci-fi floor will transform into a Star Wars versus Star Trek theme, while the 10th floor theme will soon be renewed to reflect the city’s local heroes: The Denver Broncos.


Be sure to spend a meal dining at The Corner Office, accessible through the hotel’s lobby. Here, Chef Rich Byers leads the global comfort food concept, with a menu that changes quarterly with updates to items every few weeks to reflect the change in seasons. Servers like Nate Gray may point you in the direction of the sweet and smoky Duck Skewers and Brazilian Cheese Bread. He’ll also recommend one of the cocktail “experiences,” like the Four Kingdoms Sake Martini which you customize with a spritz of “hibiki harmony” (peated Japanese whisky) from a miniature spray bottle. Of course, the entire cocktail experience at The Corner Office is first-rate, with all the traditional favorites enhanced with rare liqueurs, housemade tinctures, and even an impressive mezcal list.

     For dinner, the sizzling rice bowl with marinated steak, zucchini, rice, and a poached egg is a savory delight, served piping hot in a Korean granite bowl. Tikka Masala and Moroccan Crusted Lamb Rack offer creative takes on traditional dishes.

     The Corner Office is also known for its showstopping Disco Brunch, featuring “I Will Survive” bottomless marys and mimosas, irresistible red velvet waffles and apple bread pudding French toast, and savory chorizo quiche—just to name a few.

     From the lighthearted lobby to the one-of-a-kind guest rooms to memorable meals, The Curtis Hotel does everything it can to help its guests “stay happy.” And whether you’re a loyal guest or first-time visitor, there’s always something new to discover at this pop culture paradise.


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