Gold List World's Best 700+ Places to Stay
Condé Nast Traveler, January 2006
As night fell, a rock fence and a gate came into view. We pulled off the road, and Joe pushed a button on the gate, which opened. We rolled slowly along a dirt road shadowing four ghostly oryx, their antlers flashing in the starlight, until we reached the adobe walls of Cibolo Creek Ranch, set on the 37,000 acres and eerily serene in its isolation.
A nineteenth-century cattle baron built Cibolo to hold off the Apaches and the Comanches; a Texas [entrepreneur and industrialist] reconstructed it in the 1990s, sparing no expense, even importing exotic animals to roam the grounds. Joe and I had an eight-room wing of the main building pretty much to ourselves. It was Lonesome Dove by way of Dallas: a parlor with seventeen sets of wood-and-glass doors, about an acre of floor covered with Mexican Saltillo tiles, ceilings trussed with rough-hewn cottonwood beams, daybeds draped with Southwestern blankets, and walls hung with a rarity – understated Western art. The whole looked out on a pond (called a lake in these parts), on the far side of which was a swimming pool, a hot tub, and a spa.
“I could get to like Texas,” Joe said.
The morning brought options: a Humvee ride to the waterfall, horseback riding, mountain biking, skeet shooting, Internet surfing. But we opted for a 3-hour hike along the Cibolo Creek, which is lined with lush cottonwoods and red granite cliffs. The air was rich with sage and lavender, the trail bright with desert marigold, the sun so pleasantly intense that when I splashed in the creek my shoes dried in ten minutes. After lunch, a nap, and another hike, this one all the way to the canyon rim, at 6,500 feet where we caught a blood-orange sunset over the vast plain of the Rio Grande Valley – we double-timed it home for a dinner of butter-tender Texas steaks and margaritas that was communal and genteel and moneyed.