A Year with Marriott Gold: Destination Pueblo, CO

IMG_0324[1]A year with Marriott Gold destination: Pueblo, Colorado

Pueblo is a larger city in Southwest Colorado and was next on my year with Marriott Gold.  I stopped here overnight on a visit for a friend’s celebration and then it was on my way to Gunnison to visit Black Canyon National Park.   My stay was at the Spring Hill Suites and I should get a new badge on my profile for this stay.  It will be my first stay during gold with Spring Hill Suites.  I am looking forward to see what the hotel features for Marriott Gold members.

Springhill Suites is right off the 25 freeway in downtown Pueblo, it’s conveniently located near the river walk area and local attractions.  It was a perfect location for my evening visit to the Cathedral which is about 5 minutes away.   They are apparently in the middle of a remodel or some type of construction as they have signs stating “pardon their dust”.  They do a really good job right now working around it and I hardly even noticed.

My reservation was placed several weeks ago through Travel with T and I’m happy I had the foresight to do it.  When we arrived they had only 2-3 rooms left.   Apparently they were completely booked.    The hotel itself looks beautiful.  A couple of minor little issues with maintenance I noticed but this could just be because they were in the middle of an upgrade.

We checked in at the front desk because for some reason my app for check in never works.  We were greeted by a nice young woman at the front desk.  She had a good smile and a nice welcome.  No thank you for being gold though.  I am beginning to think this is not always done.  Check in goes smooth she directs us to our room and we are on our way.

We were placed on the 4th floor so I assumed we were upgraded to a higher floor but no mention was made.  The rooms are very nice, spacious, and the décor is set in a comfortable but modern sleek style.  The Springhill Suites are designed with the longer stay in mind so they are larger and definitely more comfortable.  I have a tv in my separate bedroom and a tv in the living area.  Maybe 5-10 minutes after check in we receive a call asking if our room was ok and if everything was to our satisfaction.   Nice touch Springhill I liked this and appreciated it.

The hotel is nicely appointed with a café and bar in the center.  They have a breakfast buffet for the morning including in the price of the room so Gold does not matter.   The buffet is just so so, no different than say a Quality Inn or Comfort Suites.  Basic, nothing stands out.   The service was ok, not great, not good, just ok.  The items were refilled and there were quite a lot of people so the gal was busy but not friendly.

At one point I engaged her for a coffee urn that had run out, other than that moment she would not have even made eye contact.  Now this may be due to the morning rush but I find that a smile and engagement with people make a difference between an ok stay or a great stay.  I hate to make a discernment at this point on Marriott’s food venues but I am almost seeing a pattern.   I have yet to experience that great service I had come to know from them.

I do have a Kudo’s to the Front Desk gal who I saw on the floor often making sure everything was ok.  She appeared to take pride in her job and care that everything looked good.  She was attentive to the area surrounding her including the expansive lobby area checking and rechecking during the morning rush.

As for being a gold member, high speed internet was available in my room and for Marriott Gold it is free.  Good perk but not great.  Maybe a room on a higher floor ok but again not great.  Room had a little view of the pool area but it was slightly obstructed.  All in all a good hotel, decent rate, and nicely appointed spacious room.  Linen was excellent as usual and it makes for a comfortable sleep.  Gold status not much benefit as far as I can see here.  I still prefer Marriott most of the time as I can depend on getting a consistent stay.

Take a glimpse into ancient culture; destination: Mesa Verde National Park Cliff Dwellings

Mesa Verde National Park is an incredible adventure into the past but also a vast area of beautiful wilderness where you can hike, bike, and camp

Mesa verde 12                                                                  Mesa Verde National Park is an incredible adventure into the past and a vast area of beautiful wilderness where you can hike, bike, and camp.   You can step into the world of the Ancestral Pueblo people at this amazing archeological site.   Discover and experience their world of 550 AD, where the pueblo people lived for over 700 years throughout this area.  Mesa Verde (Spanish for the Green Table)  is a spectacular site to visit.  Named rightly because its appears to be a large green table flat on the top typical of a Mesa.  This UNESCO World Heritage Site is located in Montezuma County, Colorado, United States.   The park was created in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.   It is the largest archeological preserve in the U.S.  The park itself occupies 52,485 acres near the Four Corners and features some 600 cliff dwellings a numerous ruins of homes and villages.

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Just the drive up to the ruins and you are gifted with incredible views of the whole county.  The winding road to the top will present you with vast skyline views of the Four Corners, wild flowers, and various wildlife along the way.  We were lucky enough to catch the local herd of wild horses in the park.  These animals are actually up for debate as to whether or not they are actually wild or feral from local reservation.

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Mesa Verde is better seen in various trips or a longer period of time.  We have decided to make several day trips to enable us to enjoy the expansive park properly.

mesa verde 5Today we opted for a trip with a short hike to one of the quieter parts of the park. The Wetherill Mesa is open from May through September.  We only made one stop to one of the self guided ruins known as the Step House.  It features an alcove, pit houses, and cliff dwelling.  There are rangers on site for questions.  The hike was fairly easy and about a 1 mile round trip.  The rangers will tell you to plan for about an hour.   There are two ways in, one features several levels of stairs and the other is flat with no stairs.  We opted for the longer way around using the stairs and are happy we did.  We were able to get some great views of the whole alcove as we hiked it.

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Once in the dwelling site you are very close and are able to walk around the whole area.  They don’t allow standing on the walls but you are basically right inside the alcove in the historical site.  It’s pretty incredible to imagine the pueblo ancestral people living here.  You get to experience a little of what it might feel like as you walk in and around the Step House.   The Step House is named for the steps that are located next to the courtyard and dwellings.

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Between 1190 and 1270 most of the cliff dwellings were built.  There are community centers which have about 150 rooms to one room houses, kivas and courtyards. The structures are often built just fitting them in where they could with no real building plan.  The walls are single courses of stone.   To protect the walls and roof from weather erosion they are a limited height.   The Ancestral Pueblo only lived in the cliff dwellings for about 100 years.  Archeology study suggest that about the 1300’s Mesa Verde was abandoned.   Why they left is still being debated.   Where did they go?   They joined thousands of other ancestral people moving from what is today’s New Mexico and Arizona

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Mesa Verde is definitely a site to see, live, and experience.  You find incredible outdoor hikes, fantastic scenery, and a glimpse into the past of this great people and their history here in the southwestern United States.  National Parks are our treasure and should be trips on everyone’s bucket list.  You can’t beat them for incredible beauty, history and learning opportunities.  So for your next discovery destination try Mesa Verde National Park.

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Alta Lakes Destination: Ghost Towns

High in a mystical alpine setting reminiscent of the book “The Mist of Avalon” you will find Alta Lakes and Alta Ghost Town.   This peaceful, quiet, and serene area is located on the back side of Telluride Ski Resort and Palmyra Peak.  On an easy day trip from Telluride, Dolores, or Cortez, you are able to enjoy camping, fly fishing, hiking, and a little history on a visit to this incredible Lake in the summertime   I have never been in the winter but they say it’s one of the prettiest places to go snowmobiling in the Telluride area.

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Your journey begins as you detour off the highway 145 towards a clearly marked sign that says Alta.  You might want to have a 4 wheel drive or at least a high profile vehicle as the roads up to the lake are pretty rough. We did not have to place our vehicle in 4 wheel drive but the high profile helped.   The lakes are past Alta’s Ghost town which is an old mining town with many buildings still standing. It’s is said the first place alternating current was used. (Think Tesla)   There are many old historic buildings you can not only photograph but get really close too.  The have reinforced the boarding house but many others are in various stages of dilapidation.   There has been an ongoing battle on whether or not to let the buildings be destroyed for residential purposes or try and save them for a beautiful piece of Colorado’s mining history.  Right now the town is on the side of Alta and it looks like they will be kept. 

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Travel a little farther up the mountain at the elevation of 10,000 plus you will find Alta Lakes. These are alpine mountain lakes at their finest.    It is here Colorado shines as its ruggedness and pristine beauty will capture your imagination with the sensation of time standing still.   The awe inspiring 10,000 feet views are some of the best the world has to offer.   We arrived when a fine mist was falling over the lake and the water was as still as glass.  There was a slight chill in the air as this mist fell upon us.  It seem to create a surreal feeling that while we were in this Mountain Alpine forest we were in a world of the past and present all at the same time.

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Alta Lakes and Ghost town provides you much in the way of things to do.  You can pitch a tent, and spend the time exploring this area as there is plenty of camping.  For the budget minded camping spots are free and some even have grills next to them and they are all surrounding the Lake.   This is a great visit if you are in the area.  Something slightly out of the way but well worth the detour.   Alta Lakes where you can camp, fly fish, paddle board, and hike and experience the pristine beauty in the incredible Colorado mountains.

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Travel with T
Travel with T
Travel with T