Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nobody Puts the Stanley in a Corner

Yesterday, Beverly, Jo, and I trekked up to Estes Park to visit another historic Colorado hotel -- the Stanley. The Stanley's biggest claim to fame is they were the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining, and they are also believed to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country. The three of us braved the ghosts and the winding roads to explore another gem in Colorado history.

We started out with lunch at the Cascades Restaurant, where they have unique spins on classic dishes like Buffalo Sliders, Elk Carnitas Quesadillas, and Big Game Meatloaf. Beverly, our photographer, totally busted me tweeting under the table.

After lunch, we gathered for our tour, where we heard all kinds of ghost stories and looked around the hotel. My favorite room was the Music Room, where Mrs. Flora Stanley loved to spend time with her friends and her piano.

After the Music Room and the lobby, we peeked into the MacGregor Room, where we were introduced to the story of Mrs. Wilson, a dedicated employee from when the hotel first opened in 1909 (same year as the Boulderado, by the way). According to the story, Mrs. Wilson was given the task of lighting the gas portions of the lights one evening. (Also like the Boulderado, the Stanley used fixtures that could run on gas or electric.) This was before they added that odor to gas to alert people to leaks. And sure enough, there was a gas leak in the first room she went to light -- #217, the presidential room. The resulting explosion blew pieces of the hotel half a mile away, but Mrs. Wilson survived with some broken bones, cracked ribs, and damaged hearing.

She remained a loyal employee even after the explosion. She died of natural causes at an old age, but still shows up for work at the Stanley. People who stay in #217 report items being mysteriously straightened, luggage unpacked and packed without explanation, and even an evening turndown service from Mrs. Wilson. Apparently, she feels strongly about unmarried couples sleeping in the same bed, because there are also stories of couples feeling pressure between them in the night. Some even report a visible indentation in the sheets between them!

We also explored the fourth floor, which is where the nannies and children used to be housed. There's stories of hearing disembodied giggling voices and more than one person has felt someone tugging on their shirt, keys, or hand, and it's believed that the children are responsible for this. Before our tour guide mentioned this, Jo felt pressure pulling down on her purse, and then came the explanation. Creepy!

After we finished the tour, we snooped around for just a little bit more, including checking out the dorms that used to house the workers who built the Stanley, but now houses the summer staff. They reminded me of the cabins from Dirty Dancing, so I kept expecting to see Jennifer Gray step out and samba for me.

Overall, the trip was great! If you're visiting Boulder and looking for a great day trip, I highly recommend the drive up to Estes Park and the Stanley. Or, it could be a destination vacation unto itself, since the Rocky Mountain National Park is right there. Remember: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Famous Guests

Since we opened in 1909, the Hotel Boulderado has played host to a wide variety of guests, some more famous than others. Here's a few of my favorite stories:
  • Ethel Barrymore stayed here in 1915 while she was performing at the Curran Opera House (now the Boulder Theater).
  • Helen Keller stayed here twice (once in 1914 and again in 1923) while doing lectures at the University of Colorado. On one of these trips, Annie Sullivan accompanied her and they stayed in room #205.
  • Duke Ellington showed up at the Hotel Boulderado in the 1960s with his forty-two person entourage -- and no reservation.
  • Louis Armstrong stayed here in 1961 when he played a concert at the university. At the time, not too many hotels in Boulder would allow black guests. The Hotel Boulderado was an exception.
  • Robert Frost was a frequent guest here in the 1920s because his daughter was a patient at the nearby Boulder Sanitarium.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

July 4th Photos

We had some technical difficulties getting some photos showing our July 4th decorations up on Twitter -- so I'm sharing them here!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Boulderado Events Center

If you're familiar with the Hotel Boulderado, you probably know that there are two wings of the building: the historic section, which is the original structure that was built and opened in 1909, and the north wing, the two additions that were constructed in the 1980s.

When the second addition was made to the north wing, Frank Day planned to also add a new function space along with the guest rooms. This in effect doubled the Boulderado's capacity to host events with our nearly 3,000 square feet of space in what is now known as the Events Center. The space is flexible both in size and purpose; a seminar, boardroom meeting, and class can simultaneously take place during the day and then be transformed into a wedding's cocktail reception by evening.Here's a picture from the Boulderado archives of the Event Center still under construction:
And the finished product: