Kessler Canyon Ranch
It was an unusually warm, sunny, December afternoon that inspired us to drive our truck from Grand Junction to an area outside Debeque in search of the bronze, larger-than-life herd of horses that we had heard were located on this fabulously beautiful ranch. We were not disappointed. It was an afternoon to remember.
The 23,000 acre unspoiled spread of fantastic and picturesque mountain, lake and canyon land in western Colorado was the private ranch of the owner, Richard C. Kessler, art enthusiast and the President and CEO of Kessler Enterprises, Inc. Originally from Savannah, Georgia, he announced in May 2007 that he would continue to develop the area and open it to the public under his ownership.
The Kessler Canyon Ranch near Debeque, Colo., about 45 miles from Grand Junction Regional Airport, is truly the most luxurious lodge resort in western Colorado.
It is a natural wildlife retreat at 7,000 foot to 8,000 foot altitudes with outdoor activities of hunting, fishing, mountain biking, jeeping, hiking, sport shooting, and horseback riding.
Inside, the Homestead Lodge, a grand building measuring 16,000 square feet offers specialty programming retreats, corporate meeting rooms for groups of up to 30 people, which can also host family wedding celebrations. There are billiards, spa and sauna, bar, elegant, immaculate guest rooms with quality crafted, furniture, composed of natural, local woods, some upholstered with elk hides. There is a well-stocked gift shop with everything a customer would want, ranging from expensive, original jewelry to western jackets, cowboy hats and shirts, and walking sticks.
Immediately in front of the steps leading up to the porch, constructed of Arkansas fieldstone and tracer brick, with native trees acting as pillars of the Homestead Lodge, is seated an 8-foot tall, bronze sculpture titled, “Indian Crow Shaman” (Monument). It was created by a well-known Utah artist, Scott Rogers. On his website, http://www.ScottRogers.com, Scott describes and explains the sculpture. We paraphrased some of his lecture, as follows:
“The Crow Indians are known for their powerful headdresses. The shaman (medicine man) wears one made from the body of an eagle that embraces his shoulders. It is probably very old and has been preserved for this purpose. I imagine he is seated in front of a fire where certain herbs, plants and spices have been added to the flames, making them holy. He is working his medium, wearing only a buffalo robe around his haunches, chanting and praying to the Great Spirit as he fans the flames with eagle feathers, incensing his entire body with the sweet smoke from the fire, asking for blessings.”
Another renowned artist, Davis Murphy, is the sculptor artist who crafted the herd of running, larger than life horses spanning a distance of 90 feet. An ordinary camera cannot capture the sensation of actual movement you feel coming from the herd of huge horses running fast in your direction across this quiet, grassy land when you first spot them in the distance.
Currently, Davis Murphy’s studio is based in Southampton, New York, where he continues to create eye-stopping art that rests inside galleries and outside on beaches or mountain hillsides. See http://www.DavisMurphy.com.
The County Road 209 goes through private property of Kessler Canyon Ranch. A sign notes that, making you aware that you may stop along the way, although it is private property so you should respect that. We were there in the winter when the resort is closed to customers. Their website http://www.KesslerCanyonRanch.com will announce at a later date when it is open for reservations. Since it is now part of the “Marriott’s Autograph Collection,” you can also check their website http://www.Marriott.com for this Debeque, Colo., property.
Because it is in a remote area, your room reservation will include all your meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, with snacks and a complete bar. Rates range from $745 to $945 per night. The gourmet private chef is Lenny McNab, who has been known to recite cowboy poetry, sing and play his guitar for the guests.
From the “Kessler-red” fence where you enter the driveway between the guest house and the Homestead, to the bronze wildlife of bear, elk, deer, fighting horses and running horses, all strategically placed along the route, you know that you are in a special place. The sculptured iron fence was artistically designed by a commissioned iron artist who used photographs of the area to define it.
We sincerely thank Mr. Richard Kessler for bringing this wonderful, imaginative, private resort to the western slope of Colorado. Born in Savannah, Mr. Kessler is a philanthropist and businessman with four decades of hotel experience; He owns other diamond quality properties in the United States, including those in Florida, Georgia, Colorado and New Mexico. Go to http://www.KesslerCollection.com.
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