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Luxury Ranches – The Best of the West

caldera house, luxury ranches

To honor America this July 4th, we suggest you celebrate at one of the best luxury ranches in the US. Think of it as your own personal celebration of the Best of the West.

First, Happy 4th of July

We would like to give a big shout-out to America. While it was touch and go in 2020, we would say we’ve stuck the pandemic landing. The US is leading the global recovery and lending the helping hand to the rest of the world. We’ve said this before, and it means so much more even now: This country is the best place to live on earth. Besides vaccine shots available to you and all your friends, the American Dream is a concept that doesn’t exist anywhere else. We know — we’ve been almost everywhere. Immigrants come to this country with barely the clothes on their backs, and countless build better lives. No other country affords that opportunity. So happy birthday, America. You’re beautiful.

Colorado

Dunton Hot Springs

It’s no secret we love us some Little Nell and Scarp Ridge Lodge in Crested Butte. If you play your cards right, you can even do the 10.2 mile hike between Aspen and Crested Butte. We consider these locations members of the Hall of Fame in the West. There are other noteworthy vacations in Colorado, however, and a highlight is Dunton Hot Springs.

Leave your phone at home because, just like when your ancestors settled here, this place has little cell service. While this is technically not one of the luxury ranches, it does get you that authentic cowboy experience. A single landline is all that connects you to the outside world, but trust us, you won’t be needing it. When you embark on your retreat at Dunton Hot Springs, the real world disappears into a distant memory. The ghost town turned luxury boutique resort does not fall short of things to do, either. Just a short walk from your cabin, there are places to hike, horseback ride, rock climb and, our favorite, fly fish.

It’s Called Hot Springs for a Reason

The main attraction is the hot springs, and definitely a good reason to bring your family for the nature-filled experience. Long ago, the Indigenous Ute tribe discovered the healing powers of the luscious warm, tectonic waters. Miners since redirected the flow from the original spring to a bathhouse. In this plus space, you can enjoy the serene vibe and benefits of the springs.

And despite the fact that you are in the middle of nature and exploring some of the least human-touched lands, you won’t miss out on luxe amenities. The locally sourced meals are country western with an upscale twist. In room (or in-tent) amenities include wood-burning stoves, private hot springs, and huge cozy beds. The cabins have restored log interiors and Aesop products in the bathrooms.

You can rent out the whole town for a family reunion or a professional retreat. You can also simply bring the kids for a different kind of vacation. Bottom line, this is the full experience. But the the theme is completely authentic, so no kitschy business happens here. You will always have the utmost comfort and a plethora of activities to choose from.

Montana

Paws Up – The Green O

Another authentic place to try out glamping, Paws Up gets it right when it comes to the real kind of outdoors experience. This area of Montana has oxygen-rich forests of towering pines (which smell otherworldly) and luxury ranches. There are also mountains to climb and an expansive ranch filled with cattle. The nature will take your breath away, but no more so than the luxury accommodations you’ll call home. Paws Up has some of the most idyllic tents, cabins and townhouses in the area. And the newly renovated Green O adults-only treehouses feature floating fireplaces, green roofs and floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s pretty posh, and easily one of the nicest places to stay in the US.

A Little History

The properties date back to the 1800s when a mining town and explorer trails sprouted up around the old, well known lands of the Indigenous Nez Perce. Today, the ranch and surrounding land feature luxury homes that host families, couples and groups alike.

Days on the ranch can be as diverse and adventurous as you and your party want. No other place has as many dude ranch activities, kid-friendly sports and activities, and opportunities to get in the wilderness than Paws Up. Named for the way the famous puppies on the ranch would great new guests, with their paws up in the air to welcome, the ranch also integrates the humans with the animals that share the property.

The Cabins

Given that the cabins are newly renovated, we won’t have the full scoop until August. But if you beat us there, we would love to hear your feedback. The thing about this ranch is that it fulfills every rustic cowboy fantasy, yet the architecture is undoubtedly stunning. Add in the freshly sourced food and onsite activities, and it will be guaranteed memorable.

The Yellowstone Club

Unless you’re friends with Bill Gates or someone of the like, there is no way you’re getting into the famed Yellowstone Club. But we have to mention it anyway, as it’s the best in the West. It’s not technically one of the luxury ranches either, but it’s the most luxurious place to stay out West.

We’re written about the beauty of Yellowstone before. Who doesn’t love the perfect blue skies, the protected wilderness and winter’s untouched powder? And with properties starting at $4–5 million, a $300,000 joining fee and $36,000 a year for dues, it’s exclusive. They made this 13,600-acre plot of half-conservation land/half-luxury residences a billionaires’ club for the most elite.

The mountains feature 18 ski lifts, a caviar bar turned breakfast bar, basketball courts, restaurants, and a spa and fitness center. But with residency mandatory for club entrance and residences capped at 864, the expansive grounds and activities see few people, even in the dead of winter when the powder is at its freshest. And the grounds are protected by former secret service officers, so good luck sneaking in to see what the hype is.

Stay a While

New additions such as the renovated Rainbow Lodge have granted members access to luxury copper pools and more than double the square footage to use for relaxation at the end of a long day of skiing. In the summer months, the club features a Tom Weiskopf golf course and plenty of adventurous activities in the mountains. On average, members spend 60 days a year here, an increase from the 20 that was recorded in 2009. But it might take spending all year here for the rest of your life to get your money’s worth.

If It’s Good Enough for J.Lo…

Recently, Ben Affleck took Jennifer Lopez here to celebrate a quiet vacation. They shared the club with notable members, including Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen and Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel. After the Patriots’ last Super Bowl defeat, Tom brought the team up to his crib at the club. They eased their sorrows away by racing ATVs around the property.

The Montage: On the Radar

While we can’t get in on that kind of action, next door Big Sky’s Montage resort is slated to open in November. This will allow guests to partake in the experience of the wild Spanish Peaks. The resort will feature 150 luxury rooms and offer access to the golf course. Although Yellowstone Club is not available, the Montage will have its own range of activities. Think spa treatments, luxury fitness and dining centers where you likely will see Yellowstone Club members. The spa is a cool 11,000 square feet if that’s saying something.

If you’re still working on your billionaire status, Montage might be the closest to the action, but that doesn’t mean it’s light on the wallet or skimps on the luxury. Making it here is still dream come true.

Holland Peak Ranch

This is legitimately one of the top luxury ranches out West. Perhaps it isn’t just you that’s jealous of the elite status you need to vacation in Montana, but it’s you and all of your friends. While traditional resorts don’t often cater to group endeavors, this one has you covered. Holland Peak Retreat features three distinct and bespoke residences. Up to 16 of your closest gang can relax in five-star accommodations for as long as you want. Picture a Kardashian-style family vacation. The cottage-style log cabins with sky-high ceilings, huge windows and high-tech amenities create perfect photo ops at every corner.

Holland Peak is like you’re at one of the exclusive clubs, too, as the rented-out accommodations are completely closed off to the outside world. And they have everything you need. The Homestead Mainhouse has six fireplaces, a cascading natural waterfall and a lake view, to start. Rooms are plus with en-suite bathrooms, soaking tubs and walk-in showers for two.

You’ll also never get bored on the ranch as all the activities you can think of to do in Montana are included. In the summer, you can paddle board, fly fish, horseback ride, mountain bike and more. The cold weather is prime for skiing. There’s also a private ice skating rink that many flock to in the winter.

Most groups bring private chefs with them to their homes so they can relax without worrying about cooking. But the state-of-the-art kitchen appliances are also fit for families and friends to bond over new recipes when cooking for themselves. Don’t get us wrong, we love having everything done for us, but there is something about sharing food and culture with friends that can really make a trip special.

Wyoming

Amangani

If you didn’t already know, we love Amangani. Located in the Grand Teton Mountains, the resort is awash in the jaw-dropping natural beauty, and not much else. The renowned Aman resort is one of the best places to enjoy a secluded getaway in the mountains. Like all Aman ventures, Amangani is no less than the most luxurious hotel there is in the area. The pool is a centerpiece, with 377 square feet overlooking the mountains.

Amangani caters to those looking to be restored and reconnected with the nature that surrounds them. Patios and private terraces grace every suite and villa, allowing guests to spend most of their time in the fresh air with the gorgeous views of Jackson Hole. You can fill your days with hikes, horseback rides and fishing trips, and the spa services are not to be missed, as they incorporate Ayurveda to transform your mind and body. This is one spa we really recommend going to.

If visiting in the winter, dog sled rides are a must, as are the complimentary rides to Jackson Hole to ski. In the summertime, the mountains look most vast from the high perch of a hot air balloon where you can get a whole new perspective on life.

In signature Aman style, the hotel design features the Wild West meets exquisite modern architecture. Whether lounging in the dining room or discovering the Grand Tetons from the back of a horse, this is where to stay when in Jackson.

Caldera House

This is one you may not have heard of, but it’s newsworthy. Many people don’t know about this luxury boutique hotel at the base of the Teton Mountains even though the Kardashian clan stayed here (and spent over $10k a night). We’re sharing this with you in confidence because this hotel is too good to be overrun by tourists.

Most people that come to Jackson Hole in the winter are there to ski and aren’t thinking of art, design or unique architecture. At Caldera House, it’s clear that every detail has been carefully thought through. The LA-based luxury design studio, Commune, partnered with the owners to get the interiors perfect. This is swank NYC apartment meets chalet, but there is no room for antlers or plaid. The eight rooms all cater to different moods but feature undeniably luxurious touches like heated terraces, soaking tubs and the eccentric art of Jessica Lichtenstein.

But we don’t only love Caldera House for the aesthetics. This place goes above and beyond when it comes to creating experiences for guests. Rumor has it, guests at nearby Four Seasons try to get access to Caldera’s fitness center and facilities. The kitchens are always fully stocked, and the nearby trolley service reminds you of s ski lodge in the Alps. Also, unlike other resorts who do everything in house, Caldera connects people to local experts and businesses for heli-skiing, hiking, fishing and more. Caldera also supports the local restaurants who chef up amazing and cheap local food that hits the spot at the end of a long day.

It’s not a surprise that, when the Kardashians are not on the property, the hotel is mostly overrun by pro snowboarders and skiers. Until now, the hotel has kept a relatively low profile, and maybe we should keep it that way.

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