Whilst I am accustomed to being awoken in the middle of the night by roaring lions, howling coyotes was a new experience. Had it not been for the coyotes, I doubt I would have stirred because the bed at Collective Vail was that comfortable. Since I was already up, I had to go to the bathroom – a detached teepee behind our tent. I grabbed one of the lanterns and did a full sweep of the teepee looking for coyotes. While the staff had assured us that the coyotes never came up to the tent, we had received instructions to not leave food in our tents which I can only assume means that there is a remote possibility of being visited by a bear or coyote. Luckily, the bathroom was free of any critters. Besides the coyotes, prairie dogs, and a few birds we did not see much indigenous wildlife, although we did see an elk in a riverbed during one of our exploratory drives.
Collective Vail is located on a working ranch outside of Wolcott, Colorado, a mere 30 minutes from Vail and perfectly positioned to take advantage of the magnificent views of the Sawatch mountain range in the Colorado Rockies. Collective Vail shares the property with 4 Eagle Ranch. Upon arrival, I was a bit disappointed as the tents were perched directly above the parking area that was surrounded by a few buildings resembling a tacky old west town. When I was booking accommodation, I wanted a private spot with sweeping vistas of snowcapped mountains far removed from civilization, something I found remarkably difficult to find. As I stood in the parking lot, I was worried that I had not found the idyllic spot I envisioned. Once we made the short walk to our beautifully appointed tent, my initial impression of disappointment had faded. We could still hear cars zipping along the highway, but by the time night fell we were enveloped by silence and the tranquility I was looking for.
When we arrived it was hot, nearly 90 degrees hot. We immediately changed out of our appropriate-for-lunch-in-Vail clothes to more suitable attire and basked in the sun on our small porch. Around 4:00pm we received a text (without phones all guest relations are managed via text) alerting us that the horses were being moved to their pasture. Callum and I didn’t see the text, but we heard the din of horse hooves thundering up the mountain. It was something to see nearly 60 horses cantering up the mountainside being corralled by modern means, an ATV. It was magnificent and marked the moment that I truly fell in love with this magical spot.
There are two dinner options available at Collective Vail either a BBQ box that you cook yourself on the grill or a three course meal served in the main dining room. We chose the BBQ boxes for both nights and at the hour chosen by us, we texted in our drinks order (no outside alcohol is allowed) and the time we wanted to eat. At the appointed hour one of the staff arrived with packets of food and instructions on how to prepare the meal. Our table for two was located mere steps from our luxury tent and the view was stunning. While the meal was memorable in large part because of the location, it was not the only reason the meal was incredible. The food was delicious. The chef prepared simple meals with fresh ingredients. On the first night we had a peach salad, sous vide pork chops that needed to be finished on the grill, and mixed vegetables. As we lit the grill on the second night, the horses moved toward the fence line and grazed mere steps from our table. Once again I was blown away by the food – a steak for Callum and trout for me.
As the sun descended behind the mountains, a crackling fire was built and a box filled with s’more accoutrements — homemade marshmallows, cookies, a chocolate bar, as well as something resembling homemade peanut butter fudge arrived. Our first night we were joined by a couple from Boulder with an insane connection to Londolozi where Callum works. Surprisingly, this was the least one-degree-of-separation-encounter we would experience at Collective Vail.
We wanted to be lazy after a week and a half visiting friends and family and we did not take advantage of the myriad of activities on offer from zip lining, to white water rafting, to horseback riding, and explorations via ARVs. We did take advantage of the proximity to Vail and Beaver Creek by popping in for lunch. We also took advantage of the free wine tasting Vines at Vail. It was located on the property and the owner and winemaker was gregarious and generous. He makes wine with grapes from California opposed to those that are now being grown in Colorado. We even elected to buy a bottle to drink with our meal that night. And, in another it’s-a-small-world-moment, as we were leaving one of the other patrons made a comment that connected us through his sister who I had worked for several years earlier.
The tents are decorated in a Western motif with many thoughtful details. The bed is large, the linens luxurious, and an antler chandler illuminates the space at night. Despite the heat during the day, the temperatures dropped significantly as soon as the sun set – pack accordingly – although the beds are outfitted with an electric mattress pad and the tent has a wood burning stove to stave off the frosty nights. My fire loving partner couldn’t help but build a fire on one of the nights. Breakfasts are included in the stay and like all of the food, was delicious. Sadly we skipped our last breakfast in order to make it back to Denver in time for the Colorado Rockies game.
Collective Vail is rather pricey, but we managed to snag a great deal that made our stay equivalent to a weekend at a nice hotel in Vail and given the choice between a hotel room and glamping, I would chose a private luxury tent every time. If you find yourself anywhere near Collective Vail, book a nights stay and indulge in the great outdoors.