PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. - From the Flying Deck, we surveyed some 4,000 acres of Colorado wilderness without spying another building.
From the saddles of our exceptional quarter horses, we rode through Ponderosa Pine forests, carpeted in hundreds of bright-yellow wild sunflowers.
|THE FLYING DECK - From the Flying Deck of Keyah Grande ranch in Colorado, you can see for miles. CNS Photo by Priscilla Lister. |
|AN EASY CATCH - Fly-fishing on Jackson's Pond means catching - and releasing - one rainbow trout after another, with a catfish or two thrown in for good measure. CNS Photo by Priscilla Lister. |
|HITTIN' THE TRAIL - Horseback riding at Keyah Grande boasts exceptional quarter horses and stunning scenery. CNS Photo by Priscilla Lister. |
|SPANISH TOUCH - The Spain suite, like the house's Great room, features dozens of original oil paintings, coffee table books and glass art. CNS Photo by Priscilla Lister. |
From the banks of a well-stocked pond, we caught and released one rainbow trout after another.
From our own luxurious whirlpool tub, we pondered moving to our own steam shower next.
And at midnight, we raided the kitchen.
We were at Keyah Grande, an intimate getaway in the Four Corners region of southern Colorado, that just two years ago opened its doors to the public.
It still feels like a private home, albeit one that's owned by some exceedingly wealthy friends. Created by Barbara and Alan Sackman, New York real estate developers who have owned this 4,000-acre ranch for more than 20 years, Keyah Grande offers just eight rooms, allowing no more than 16 guests to enter this rarefied world.
I met some friends there in June for a weekend of mountain activities. We never had to go far from the house, and actually never even left the private property.
One morning we drove down to Jackson's Pond, one of four on the ranch, which is very well stocked with rainbow trout and catfish. Michael Iguchi, or Gooch as he's called, is the resident fly-fishing expert who provided us with all our gear as well as instruction and tips.
We'd barely dip our lines into the pastoral pond when they'd tug with a mighty catch.
"It's fun just seeing people catch them," said Gooch. "They fight pretty well."
We didn't take any back to the house, but we could have had some cooked up if we had wanted.
Pamela Hubbell is the chef they've lured from Louisiana to head the gourmet kitchen. Breakfasts of omelets with smoked gouda, elk sausage and mushrooms or blueberry pancakes would be followed by lunches of succulent shrimp and crab Louis salads or roast beef paninis, ending with five-course dinners in one of two gorgeous dining rooms.
Cream of asparagus soup, wild mushroom ravioli, tomato and mozzarella salad, peppered filet mignon or grilled yellowfin tuna and bittersweet chocolate mousse comprised one night's meal, all served on Versace china with stunning Chambly silverware. The 3,000-bottle wine cellar made some delicious matches.
One afternoon we hiked from the fly-fishing pond back up to the house, making our own way through oaks, spruce and cottonwoods, crossing a stream via a fallen log, and marveling at the wild lupine, lilies and iris that dotted the pristine landscape.
The next day we took a long horseback ride into the hills, where dozens of wild sunflowers perked up the gorgeous views. The horses at Keyah Grande are truly excellent mounts, not plodding trail riders. My steed was wonderfully responsive, and even on exceedingly steep trails, he was surefooted and strong.
We rode up to the High Cabin, a truly private retreat on the property that honeymooners would love - they're taken up by horseback or vehicle and truly left alone, even though food and drink are discreetly delivered.
Back at the house, we each had our own room, six are about 650 square feet while two suites, complete with small kitchens and extra beds, go up to 1,050 square feet. Each guest room features the individual decor of the Sackmans' favorite destinations: Santa Fe, Spain, America, China, Japan, the South Pacific, France and England. The bathrooms rival any five-star hotel's.
The small spa features treatments that focus on Keyah Grande's nature: forests, mountains and waters.
And the very polished staff rises to any request, but on a first-name basis, you feel like friends.
We'd gather at the outdoor hot tub for margaritas, or watch the stars from the outdoor firepit, or head to the cozy bar for a nightcap, or play rounds of billiards downstairs in the giant Media Room.
Keyah Grande is 10 minutes from Pagosa Springs, well known for its natural hot springs; 45 minutes from Durango, Colo., where the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad beckons for scenic train rides; 45 minutes to the Wolf Creek ski area; two hours from Mesa Grande's famed Anasazi ruins; or three hours from Telluride, Colo., or Santa Fe, N.M.
The property is also popular with serious hunters. The Sackmans are big-game enthusiasts, and elk are raised here while turkeys and mule deer are common in the wild.
But we didn't do any of that. With midnight raids in the kitchen on our agenda, we never wanted to wander far from this home.
IF YOU GO:
Getting there: We flew Northwest Airlines and US Airways into Durango. Private pilots may also fly in Pagosa Springs or Durango.
Staying there: Rates range from $895-$1,395 per night, double occupancy, including breakfast, lunch and dinner and one on-site activity per day per adult.
For more information: Keyah Grande, 13211 Highway 160 West, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147; 970-731-1160; www.keyahgrande.com.
Priscilla Lister is a freelance travel writer.
© Copley News Service