New way to be old

To help it com­pete, his­toric Ho­tel Boul­der­ado is get­ting a face-lift

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Jerd Smith

boul­der» More than a year ago, when long­time Boul­der restau­ra­teur Frank Day sur­veyed the his­toric Ho­tel Boul­der­ado, the ven­er­a­ble prop­erty he has owned for 36 years, he de­ter­mined it was time, as one staffer said, “to wake the old girl up.”

Boul­der is in the midst of a ma­jor ho­tel boom, with the num­ber of new rooms set to jump to 2,633 from 2,106 by next Septem­ber, ac­cord­ing to the Boul­der Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau.

To en­sure his red brick Ital­ianate and Span­ish Re­vival struc­ture can com­pete, Day has been hit­ting the re­fresh but­ton to make the nearly 108-year-old ho­tel as al­lur­ing as it’s ever been.

Jan. 2, as soon as the soar­ing Christ­mas tree in the lobby comes down, Day and his team will be­gin re­ju­ve­nat­ing the space, seek­ing a slightly more mod­ern tone, one in which busi­ness peo­ple and millennials can gather for lat­tes and wine, to min­gle and work. If they are guests at the 160-room ho­tel, which de­buted on New Year’s Day in 1909, all the bet­ter.

“You can be old and in­ter­est­ing and beau­ti­ful,” Day said. “Or you can be old and dowdy. We in­tend to be the for­mer.”

Af­ter an es­ti­mated four-month ren­o­va­tion is com­pleted, dur­ing which time the ho­tel and its restau­rants will re­main open, the lobby will see its gift shop van­ish, its his­toric front desk turned into a bar, and Pearl Street’s Box­car Cof­fee in­stalled to make those lat­tes.

This will oc­cur al­most 108 years to the day af­ter the ho­tel wel­comed the com­mu­nity into its lobby and guests to its rooms for the first time. Early in its his­tory, it was the only ho­tel in Boul­der and served as the de facto com­mu­nity room.

Back then, din­ner in the main din­ing hall cost 75 cents; guests were re­quired to spend at least 25 cents to be seated. A ho­tel room cost $1 to $2.75 per night, and a gi­ant coal fur­nace in the base­ment gen­er­ated hot wa­ter for the guests’ bath­rooms.

The Boul­der­ado is among 295 his­toric inns on the mem­ber­ship roll of the na­tional His­toric Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion, an en­tity over­seen by the non­profit Na­tional Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion.

The ho­tel is one of only five in Colorado that are mem­bers of the HHA. They in­clude The Broad­moor in Colorado Springs, the Strater in Du­rango, the Stan­ley Ho­tel in Estes Park and the Cliff House in Man­i­tou Springs.

But not all of Colorado’s his­toric inns are HHA mem­bers. Some gems in­clude the Brown Palace and Ox­ford ho­tels in Den­ver and the Ho­tel Jerome in Aspen.

“These ho­tels have al­ways played a huge role in their com­mu­ni­ties,” said HHA spokes­woman Heather Tay­lor. “They be­come the liv­ing room of the town.”

And that’s what Day and his team hope will oc­cur for the sec­ond time in the his­tory of the Ho­tel Boul­der­ado.

That the Boul­der­ado will face a new wave of mod­ern com­pe­ti­tion late next sum­mer is “top of mind,” gen­eral man­ager Lisa Lind­gren said. “The de­mand for ho­tel rooms in the sum­mer used to push a lot of peo­ple out of town, but with the new rooms, that will be ab­sorbed.”

As the lodg­ing com­pe­ti­tion for cus­tomers heats up, Day and Lind­gren are count­ing on the Boul­der­ado’s his­toric in­ter­est and its place in the heart of the city to help it con­tinue to pros­per.

“Peo­ple al­ways have opin­ions when you take some­thing old and freshen it up,” Lind­gren said. “They worry they will lose some of the his­toric feel. But you have to do it. You have to stay cur­rent.”

Lee and De­siree Mot­tard, a cou­ple from Bos­ton, check in at Boul­der’s his­toric Ho­tel Boul­der­ado last week with as­sis­tance from guest ser­vices agent Riley Branch. The Ho­tel Boul­der­ado de­buted on New Year’s Day in 1909. Jeremy Pa­passo, Daily Cam­era

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