New way to be old
To help it compete, historic Hotel Boulderado is getting a face-lift
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