Look out onto the lake from the main lodge.
WHY NOW: We can think of no better way to spend the holidays than cuddled up in front of a wood-burning fire in a Victorian-inspired, 2,400-square-foot, three-bedroom cottage nestled within the stunning alpine scenery of the Uncompahgre National Forest. For those who don’t want to hassle with second-home ownership, Elk Mountain Resort provides that home-away-from-home feeling, plus the perks and amenities of a world-class resort. BOSS MAN: Elk Mountain Resort is almost as colorful as its proprietor, Thomas Forman, who spared no expense and overlooked no detail when building his 275-acre dream property nestled in the shadow of the San Juan Mountains. In addition to a business background peppered with experience in hotel and hospitality, television, and food and beverage, Forman is an innovator in cane fighting and a former professional wrestler. So it’s no surprise that Elk Mountain is a crazy-cool mix of five-star luxury—450-thread-count sheets and goose-down comforters, heated outdoor walkways, world-class cuisine, sexy cigar lounge—and recreational shooting and self-defense training (more on that in “Shoot to Thrill”). Oh, and did we mention the breathtaking wedding chapel perched atop a scenic knoll? HIT THE SNOW: Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are only a few of the wintertime
Blow through fresh powder on a snowmobile.
activities. If downhill is more your speed, Elk Mountain is happy to provide transport to nearby Telluride, where fresh powder awaits. After a long day of frolicking in the snow, nothing feels better than kicking off your boots and savoring a cocktail by the roaring fire in the upstairs lounge. Maybe shoot a little pool. Watch the sun drop over the spring-fed lake. Play a few hands of poker. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Dallas’ own Richard Chamberlain, executive chef and owner of the chophouse that bears his name, designed the menu at Elk Mountain’s on-site restaurant, Tarragon. The menu leans Spanish—how trendy!—because Chamberlain says the topography in Montrose reminds him of Northern Spain. Like every good menu, the dishes change every so often, but expect such delights as elk carpaccio drizzled with truffle oil; Spanish ham, mozzarella, tomato, and basil panini; manchego chicken with Spanish olives, lemon, and tarragon; or to-die-for braised Kobe short ribs with Yukon gold potatoes and truffle sauce. For a fancier affair, the staff can arrange a private meal in the wine cellar—home to more than 2,500 wines from around the world—designed to look like an authentic old mine shaft.


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Enjoy five-star cuisine, like this buffet of goat cheese.
FASTFACTS

Elk Mountain Resort
97 Elk Walk, Montrose 970-252-4900 or 877-355-9255. www.elkmountainresort.com
Rates (through April 2, 2006): lodge, $250-$650 per night; cottage, $750-$2,500 per night.

How To Get There
American Airlines (www.aa.com) flies nonstop seasonally to Montrose Regional Airport, which is just 19 miles away from Elk Mountain. United Airlines (www.ual.com) flies to Montrose with a connection in Denver. The resort provides transportation to and from the airport.

Photos: Snowmobile, Lodge and Cheese: Courtesy of Elk Mountain Resort

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Shoot to Thrill

When I visited Elk Mountain, I had never handled a gun and was, quite frankly, freaked out by the prospect. But thanks to Rob Pincus, director of shooting operations and lead instructor at Valhalla Shooting Club and Training Center, by the end of my second morning, I was shooting perps in a hostage situation. Okay. They weren’t real perps. It was a simulated exercise in a state-of-the-art maze, in which we used frangible bullets that disintegrate on impact to take out the “bad guys.” And Pincus, former military man, law enforcement officer, security consultant, and all-around badass, taught me to how to handle a gun safely—and most important, I wasn’t uncomfortable doing it.

In addition to Handgun 101, Valhalla offers training in rape prevention and traveler’s self-defense, as well as the sorts of activities you’d expect from a high-falutin’ shooting club where Norman Schwarzkopf and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are members, like skeet shooting and an indoor pistol range. Essentially it’s a place where boys who like guns can play, and women and children can learn how to protect themselves. Despite my initial trepidation, when I shot the last perp in the crowded “bar,” I turned to Pincus and said, “Is that it?”