There are times when I love the high energy of a busy downtown hotel. Other times I’m in the mood for tranquility and peaceful surroundings on vacation. One place in Colorado that offers the latter in spades is Garden of the Gods Resort in Colorado Springs.
The resort gets its name from the stunning red rock formations that make up the Garden of the Gods Park it overlooks from its perch atop a mesa northwest of the city. That killer view changes constantly, depending on the time of day and how the sun and clouds play on the landscape. When I opened the curtains our first morning, I literally gasped at the sight of the sun illuminating the rocks like a blazing fire. The backdrop for the geological sculptures is the majestic 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. In the foreground a sweeping lawn spreads out across the resort’s backyard with a reflecting pool that attracts deer, bobcats and other mountain critters. It’s an amazing sight that repeats day in and day out. Out came my camera!
Garden of the Gods Resort History
The mid-century modern building was constructed in 1950 as an elite private tennis club. It opened with a dining room and bar, 22 guest rooms and a few suites, a swimming pool and two tennis courts. It quickly gained a reputation as “a mecca for those interested in fine taste and splendor,” wrote the local newspaper. It drew celebrities from all sectors, including John Wayne and Walt Disney. A decade later, the owner added golf, a clubhouse and forty more rooms.
Today the luxury resort is still also a club, featuring four outdoor and two indoor tennis courts; Kissing Camels 27-hole golf course, pro shop and restaurant; a family recreation center; two swimming pools; fitness center; meeting and event space; a gorgeous spa and salon whose director is a certified oncology esthetician; and the newly established International Health and Wellness Center. All this is surrounded by the beautiful grounds of an upscale residential community.
Garden of the Gods Resort Rooms
All 56 rooms face west with floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors opening to balconies (or patios for the ground floor rooms) to capture the view. Our standard room was quite large with a king bed, sofa, lounge chairs placed cozily in front of a gas fireplace, and a granite-top desk with all the latest tech amenities. The biggest surprise (besides the sunrise) was the oversized bathroom. Apparently, when the owners initially conceived the resort, they had long-term stays in mind, hence the spacious bathroom with a large closet, drawers, cupboards and shelves, and a powder room nearly the size of a small hotel room. The powder room consists of two separate sinks and countertops, a vanity table with a stool and magnifying mirror, a fridge, coffee maker and safe. One end opens to a huge closet with an iron and ironing board, robes and luggage rack. The other end leads to a separate room housing a toilet, tub and shower combo. With this kind of storage, I could have stayed a month!
Garden of the Gods Dining (and Celebrity Sighting)
The third surprise in my visit was having dinner with Robert Redford. OK, I didn’t have dinner with the superstar who was making a movie nearby, but he sat right next to our table. I was a discreet fan and never bothered him and his party of three. I admire him as much for his environmental activism as his movie star celebrity. And I couldn’t believe the man had just turned 80 and still oozed that boyish charm!
We were having dinner at Grand View Dining Room, so named because the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows looks out onto that same view as our room. The restaurant, like the rest of the common areas, is mountainy elegant, with earth tones accenting a red stone fireplace and columns. The meal and service were exquisite. I had a vegetarian dish of fennel and roasted baby vegetables; Larry had beef tenderloin. I was impressed by the chef’s commitment to sustainable, locally grown produce and hormone- and antibiotic-free meats and poultry, which he states right on the menu. My kind of place!
The Rocks (named for “the view”) is a more casual bar/restaurant with small bites, shared plates and dinners adjacent to the dining room. It, too, is rustically chic with a rock fireplace, leather furniture and native stone floor. Kissing Camel Grille at the golf course rounds out the dining experiences. In summer, the west patio is a delightful spot for meals.
Garden of the Gods for Families
One mile from the resort down a private road on the property (near the tennis courts and golf club) is the family rec center open year round. Here kids can hang out and play games; it’s also the home of the Kids Club (check the website for rules and regs). The outdoor pool and splash park is open in the summer months only. We got a ride to and from the tennis courts on the resort shuttle. A $25 resort fee per night includes these club amenities plus WiFi, daily bottled waters and newspapers, and parking. Resort guests are treated like club members. It’s a happy place!
3320 Mesa Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80904; 800-923-8838; www.gardenofthegodsclub.com
What to do nearby
The Pikes Peak region has tons of attractions. My favorites are:
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – Named the 6th Best Zoo in the Nation, its mountain setting for the animals is as close to natural habitats as possible.
Pikes Peak Cog Railway – Ride up to the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak summit in a cog train car.
Broadmoor Seven Falls – Besides hiking to the dramatic falls, my zip-lining high over a vast canyon was a bucket-list adventure!
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park – See magnificent scenery from one of the highest suspension bridges in the world.