With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas, the Big Bend resort has been thrust into the international spotlight in a way that owner and Houston businessman John Poindexter surely never imagined.
From the London Daily Mail to the Washington Post and New York Times, the media is delving into the story of 30,000-acre ranch which has attracted notables such as Mick Jagger, Bruce Willis and Tommy Lee Jones. The Dixie Chicks' Emily Erwin was wed there Texas style as was the group's manager.
Scalia was among 35 guests, many from Washington, joining Poindexter on one of several hunting weekends that he hosts each year.
I've visited Cibolo Creek Ranch a number of times including weddings and party weekends as the guest of Poindexter.
As I wrote for the Houston Chronicle, following one visit, "Gourmet fare, luxurious guest rooms, dramatic scenery, Western history, longhorn cattle, horseback riding, mountain tours and uncommon quiet -- the offerings of Cibolo Creek Ranch combine in a secluded hideaway aimed at contemporary trailblazers."
Star gazing is another integral part of the ranch experience. Two 12" Meade telescopes give guests the opportunity to view the stars in a sky unfiltered by commercial light.
Poindexter bought the ranch in 1988 and began an extensive restoration project that earned his three 18th century adobe forts spots on the National Register of Historic Places.
Accommodations in the forts are decorated in rich ranch style adding an air of authenticity to the experience that begins with the thick adobe walls and cottonwood beams. Guests can choose from courtyard or lakeside rooms with prices starting at $350 per night. With the kitchen providing Texas-style meals (including Tex-mex) three times a day, there is no need to venture from the property.
However, with quirky Marfa just down the road, there is always the opportunity to venture out.
For the traveler looking for a rugged experience, the Morita Fort, 45-minutes across the property from the main forts, offers a rare experience. There is no electricity so guests use oil lamps for light, cool breezes in place of air conditioning, a gas-log stove that provides heat, and a gas-burning water heater. This, Poindexter says, is where Mick Jagger and his family spent a full month on two consecutive summers.
While remote (unless you travel by private aircraft and drop down on the landing strip), the ranch is accessed by flights to Midland and a three-and-a-half hour drive that takes you through Marfa.
Cibolo Creek Ranch has received kudos from numerous publications including Travel + Leisure, Andrew Harper's Hideaway Report, and Architectural Digest.