Colorado Hot Springs Weekend

What a setting!

You all know how much I love Colorado and try not to let a year pass without at least one visit.  In 2015, when my backpacking trip was cut short by illness, I spent some time exploring new (to me) areas, like Buena Vista.  On my way out to St Elmo ghost town, I had passed by Mt Princeton Hot Springs and knew I had to come back.  As soon as I got home to a computer, I was checking calendars and availability – a year out, the fall weekends were almost booked up!  I was lucky to snag a condo cabin for 3 nights in October.

The cabin area and road leading to the hot springs

I flew into Denver early on a Friday, grabbed a rental car and hit the road.  Buena Vista is about 3 hours from the Denver airport.  Taking the southern route, 285, is much more enjoyable than the craziness of the I-70 corridor.  Technically, Mt Princeton Hot Springs is in Nathrop, about 10 minutes from Buena Vista.  Buena Vista is where you’ll find a grocery store, gas stations and restaurants.

Friday night I was solo, thanks to a long-time friend (who I hadn’t seen in years), who stood me up because she “drank too much.” So I spent some time in the hot springs pool and used the evening to catch up on work – unfortunately, I was still doing two jobs at work, and this trip came at the end of quarter, so I had to lug a laptop along, which I almost never do!

Catching up on work while enjoying al fresco lunch

Saturday morning, I took advantage of the free yoga class in the pool – I’ve never done water yoga before, and it was fantastic!  It was 50 degrees outside, the pool is around 100 degrees…it made for a great start to the day!  Later in the day, my friend Deborah arrived from Denver and we set out for a short hike at Cottonwood Pass.  We couldn’t find the trail-head we were looking for, so ended up just parking at the pass and following the trail there for a bit.  The view was pretty amazing, as we watched a storm roll over the next valley.

Cottonwood Pass - storms rolling in over Gunnison County

Cottonwood Pass

The aspens may have been a bit past peak, but they were still pretty spectacular!  We made several photo stops along the road on the way back to our cabin.

Cottonwood Pass

When we got back to the cabin, my aunt Norie had arrived from Denver.  We spent the evening cooking dinner in the cabin, and enjoying the hot springs.  Before bed, I gave nighttime photography another shot, but I still need to work on it – nothing share-worthy on this trip (at least I was able to stay up past dark – thank you, shorter days!)

Sunday morning, we had a quick breakfast in the cabin and cruised the web for a suitable hike that would still allow the ladies to get back to Denver at a reasonable hour.  We settled on the Poplar Gulch trail near St Elmo ghost town.  We all had our SLR cameras out, so it was a leisurely stroll through the woods as we each snapped a ton of photos of the changing aspens.

Poplar Gulch Trail near St ElmoNorie and I

St Elmo

Norie and I decided to have another soak before she hit the road, so we went to some of the other pools – we first went to the river, where stones are arrayed to form pools of varying temperatures.  This was a cool feature, but I didn’t love sitting in sand and rocks, so we headed back up to some of the other pools.

Sitting in the river after a dayhike

After both Norie and Deborah had gone back to Denver, I was solo again, with a lot of work to catch up on.  I decided to head into Buena Vista for dinner since the wifi at the resort wasn’t great.  Quincy’s Steakhouse had free wifi and 1 menu choice:  steak, haha!  I was able to finish most of my work and enjoy another soak before bedtime.

I had booked the latest flight on Monday, so I had plenty of time to find my way back to Denver.  I first went into Buena Vista to hire a new realtor for my property in nearby Twin Lakes. (For sale here!)  Once that business was taken care of, I decided to drive up and see the property.  I always love driving through Leadville and this time I got spritzed with snow while the nearby peaks got a dusting of white.

Road between Twin Lakes and Leadville

From there, I headed over to Breckenridge, another of my favorite mountain towns.  I had lunch here and spent a few hours strolling main street, mostly window shopping.  Then, it was time to begin the sad drive back to the airport. I get so sad every time I leave Colorado – so why do I keep leaving?   When will I finally just stay?!  Hopefully soon!

No amount of time in Colorado is ever enough, but this was a great little weekend getaway and I truly loved Mt Princeton Hot Springs resort.  The wifi was bad, restaurant service spotty, but you just can’t beat the setting.  I love that it’s not right in town, but close enough to run in for anything.  The resort offers a ton of different lodging options – we had the downstairs half of a cabin (called a condo cabin.) There are also full cabins, Cliffside and Hillside hotel rooms, and rooms in the lodge.  In the summer, there’s a kid-friendly pool with waterslide, and the main pool and spa area have a full roster of free fitness classes.  Our cabin had a queen size bedroom, plus a pullout couch in the living room.  We also had a small kitchen, which was convenient as the on-site restaurant was pricey and not a lot of variety.

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

Mt Princeton Hot Springs - 1 Bedroom Cabin Condo

This is definitely someplace I will return to someday and hopefully sooner rather than later!  So…what other hot springs resorts do I need to check out?

For all of my Colorado pictures, click here!




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Mexico City – a Tale of 2 Neighborhoods

I recently spent a long weekend in Mexico City and was able to split my time between two neighborhoods.  I’d previously read about the Red Tree House and knew I wanted to stay there.  However, with solo travel, lodging can be the biggest expense and I’m not a hostel girl!  (Hostile, maybe, if I’m hangry! ) I had a Hyatt gift card from my company so I decided to stay two nights at the Hyatt Regency Mexico City, and then two nights at the Red Tree House.  Normally, I find changing hotels mid-trip to be a pain, but in this case, it actually worked out really well and I would recommend this approach for urban vacations as you get a better feel for different neighborhoods.

9/10 - oddly enough, my hotel (The Hyatt Regency) is in this picture - just off the wing, on the edge of the park.  Of course, I didn't know that at the time!

Hyatt Regency - Polanco, Mexico City

The Hyatt ($149/night) is in the Polanco neighborhood, which I likened to the Gold Coast of Chicago.  The street also has a W Hotel, JW Marriott and Intercontinental, all lined up against the greenery of Bosque de Chapultepec.  (you can see the hotels just left of the park in the first photo above)  A few blocks away is Avenue Maseryk, the DF’s version of Michigan Avenue – from Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and plenty of luxury car dealers.  This is also where I had a food tour.

My room at the Hyatt was quite nice, with a king bed and a window overlooking the park.

Hyatt Regency - Polanco, Mexico City

I felt very safe wandering the Polanco neighborhood, and it was very easy to find my way around.  The streets are lined with mansions and lots of parks and restaurants.  You are in walking distance to so many attractions, as well as the Auditorium which is the starting point of several bus tours.

9/10 Polanco neighborhood

Two of the restaurants I tried in Polanco that I would recommend are Agua y Sal and Guzina Oaxaca, where I sampled several moles and had sope (not sopa) for the first time – where has this been my whole life?!

Polanco Food Tourhttp://www.mexicanfoodtours.comFirst Stop:  Guzina Oaxaca - mole!

After two nights, it was time to check out and move on to the Condesa neighborhood, where a garden room at the Red Tree House awaited me.  I read that Condesa is comparable to London’s Notting Hill, or NYC’s East Bay.  For a Chicago comparison, it had a Lincoln Park/Bucktown feel, although without the chain stores.

9/12 TuribusCondesa neighborhood

When I arrived at the Red Tree House ($90/night – discount for cash payment), I was given an upgrade from a garden room to an upstairs suite, which was quite nice.  As we entered the courtyard, I knew already I was going to love this place!

Red Tree House B&B - Condesa

My room was lovely, with a sitting area, dining and small kitchen in addition to the bedroom.

The Red Tree House B&B - Condesa

The Red Tree House B&B - Condesa

And of course, the house dog was a welcome addition!

Red Tree House B&B - Condesa

Unfortunately, I didn’t have as much time to explore Condesa as one full day was taken up by my trip to Teotihuacan, but the neighborhood had a lot going on in terms of places to drink and dine!  I did find the streets a bit more confusing – they were not on a grid as they seemed to be in other neighborhoods, but I was still able to find my way to Maque bakery and back after dark!

Maque bakery in Condesa - stocking up for the next day's breakfast

I really enjoyed getting the feel for these two neighborhoods and will consider this approach again for other city vacations.  While Polanco offers a more upscale, sterile environment with the comforts of chain hotels and retail stores, Condesa has more of a “boutique” atmosphere.  I feel that the Red Tree House is not to be missed on your visit to Mexico City.

Red Tree House B&B - Condesa

A 3rd neighborhood, if you can call it that, is along the Avenue Reforma.  I saw several big name hotels here as well, including Le Meridien, Sheraton and Marriott.  This area has a lot to offer if you like the comforts of home wherever you are – I saw lots of chain restaurants, shopping malls, etc.  It’s centrally located, and felt safe at night, plus the various monuments are quite beautiful when lit up at night.

Whenever you go, wherever you stay, I can’t recommend Mexico City enough as a destination for a long weekend.  I think a 3rd night in Condesa would have been the perfect itinerary for my trip and hope I’ll be back again someday!

For all of my Mexico City photos, click here!

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Adventure Travel with a Twist of Luxury