Great estate escapes

Tired of "luxury hotels" that all blur together? The owners of these unique estates, from Mexico to Italy, are now welcoming guests. So you can (temporarily) call these luxurious spots your own.

4. Dunton Hot Springs
4. Dunton Hot Springs
This remote getaway in the San Juan range of the Colorado Rockies is what a 19th-century mining town might have looked like had its inhabitants hit gold. Christoph Henkel, a German founding partner of California real estate development group Canyon Equity, spent much of the '90s systematically combing the country looking for a "place to hang my hat," he says.

Still, a Colorado ghost town that had been overtaken by squatters seems an unlikely choice. "It was as if a nuclear bomb had hit the place," Henkel says. "A mummified elk was in one of the buildings." Henkel and his wife, Katrin, bought the place and began painstakingly restoring it. To repair the edifices with wood and fixtures in the original style, the Henkels spent years knocking on doors persuading farmers to sell unused buildings.

Today the 12-cabin luxury resort is ideal for horseback riders, cross-country and heli-skiers, climbers, and those who just love a good hot-springs spa. Guests dine family-style in rooms decorated with wagon wheels, sharing baskets of homemade bread and bottles of Opus One.

"You come in in the evening at six or seven, and you'll find yourself at the bar with a true cowboy sitting alongside an investment banker," Henkel says. "It's a place that connects people--it's never boring."

Dolores, Colo.
12 rooms, from $300 to $500 a night


Son Net

St. Clerans

Dunton Hot Springs

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