Set in the hulking Chinati Mountains in a region called the Trans-Pecos, Cibolo Creek Ranch is one of the more special retreats you’ll find in all the Southwest. Named for the mythic Seven Cities of Cibolo, which 16th-century Spanish conquistadors sought, the 30,000-acre resort was carved from a private fort by cattle baron Milton Faver in 1857. The ranch sits on land rendered surprisingly green by a small wealth of springs. In the early 1990s, Houston businessman John Poindexter bought the adobe fort and lands and spent four years renovating all its buildings.
Today, the combination of quiet Chihuahuan Desert majesty and sublime digs provides myriad ways to recuperate from whatever life throws at you. Take a horse for an early-morning ride, lounge beside the lovely pool, or doze in a hammock, dreaming of your next exquisite meal. You can hike or bike in the mountains or simply explore the small museum tucked between the twin towers of El Cibolo, the original building. There, you’ll find hundreds of volumes of Southwestern history and a wealth of artifacts recovered from the ranch.
Before dinner, rest up in your peaceful room, one of 21 in the main building, where the floors are paved in thick Saltillo tiles and handcrafted Mexican furniture is complemented by Talavera pottery and antique brass lamps. It takes mere seconds to drift off beneath goose-down comforters, with fragrant piñon wood ablaze in your own small fireplace. At dinner, sit down to a feast of quail glazed in honey and chile or sea bass Veracruz. Afterward, guests may gather at a giant firepit beside the large, spring-fed pond, under a stunning canopy of stars.
If you seek real seclusion, you’ll want to book yourself into one of El Cibolo’s more remote lodgings. Thirty minutes away from the main site is the 19th-century fort La Cienega, where five guest rooms offer fireplaces, hammocks, fabulous kitchens, and dining and living rooms. Another seven rooms are located in an adjoining hacienda. La Morita, the most remote fort (about 45 minutes from the main site), is a single cottage with a queen bed and a sitting room, all served by oil lamps, a gas-log stove, and mountain breezes.