New owners and management enhance the luxury experience at Estes Park Resort
At the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park lies Colorado’s hidden gem: Estes Park. Established as a resort community in the early 1900’s by entrepreneur and inventor F.O. Stanley, a single visit will secure an unforgettable experience in both mind and soul.
A mere 90 minutes from Denver, U.S. Highway 36 brings you to the entrance of Estes Park and cements the understanding of why many visitors make a return trip every year. Completely surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, the panoramic views in this secluded valley town are unparalleled. A walk along the river can bring you face-to-face with an elk or two, among the many mountain creatures known to frequent Estes Park.
Seated beside Lake Estes, The Estes Park Resort is a reminder of why visitors return time and time again: to escape.
“I fell in love with Estes at 14,” says Chris Carey, general manager of The Estes Park Resort. “I’m an example of how this area can change people’s lives.”
Change Is In the Air
January marked not only a new year, but a new season for the lakefront property. It was a sort of “homecoming” for Chris as he took the helm of the 55-room Estes Park Resort and returned to a place he loved. He was placed at the resort by Ledgestone Hospitality, the management arm of Pacific West Hotels & Resorts.
“Chris Carey is very knowledgeable and caring,” says Executive Housekeeper Julie Monahan. “He understands my position because he's done it himself, and to me that goes a long way.”
New owner Kevin Bierl was attracted to the property’s location, and began reshaping it as a family-oriented destination. Formerly known as The Lake Shore Lodge Hotel & Conference Center, Pacific West renamed the property and began a $2 million renovation in February.
“I’d say we’re about ninety-eight percent done,” Chris explains. “I think we’ve gone from sterile and dated to contemporary with character.”
Personal touches from the property’s owner, such as new carpeting and a wall hanging comprised entirely of cork, bring a sophisticated feel to the mountain resort. Designers worked with both local and national vendors to make the changes possible, and within a few months, they already appear to be paying off.
“We’re booked every weekend for weddings, with space already filling up for 2013,” says Chris. “We’ve even started taking some reservations for 2014.”
Offering panoramic views of the lake and the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Ballroom can accommodate groups up to 300, making it a popular choice for destination weddings.
Wedding planners aren’t the only ones reserving space at the resort. Businesses take full advantage of The Estes Park Resort’s flexible spaces, including a boardroom, mezzanine and outdoor patios, offering both indoor and outdoor space for meeting attendees.
“I feel very comfortable bringing brides here,” says Janice Mason, Group Sales and Services Specialist. “I know they’ll be taken care of, and the space is perfect for those brides who want to get married in the mountains.”
Business Booms and Locals Buzz
“I’m very pleased with our group bookings,” Chris says. From 2011 to 2012, he’s seen an increase of “about thirty-five percent.”
“I can comfortably say that we’re the nicest hotel in Estes,” he continued. “The new ownership and management set a more professional tone, and it’s really had a positive effect in generating buzz around the community.”
Some community members shared that buzz with R+R at the Waterfront Grille.
“It’s better now than it’s ever been,” says one local. He and his wife dine at the resort on a regular basis. “There was a lot of inconsistency before, in both the food and service.
“We haven’t seen the rooms yet, but we’ve heard they really improved!”
Guest rooms were fully renovated, with signature furnishings and décor. Luxurious bedding and white linens make guests feel as if they’re sleeping on clouds surrounding the mountain range just outside their window.
“The rooms before renovation were outdated and dingy,” Julie says. “(The new owners) have taken it from an ugly duckling to a beautiful swam.”
Luxury continues with an addition of spa services to the resort’s offerings. Provided by Riverspointe Spa, guests can receive services in the comfort of their own rooms or in two recently-added spa suites. Find details of the resort’s signature massages and altitude adjustment treatments in the sidebar.
Rocky Mountain Recreation
When guests are ready to come off the clouds and set foot on RockyMountain soil, resort staff stands front and ready. Each staff member at the front desk is armed with knowledge of both Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park, and can help coordinate activities through the resort’s partnerships with local vendors. Chris says these partnerships play a vital role in the property’s ability to become a “one-stop shop” for its guests.
“We wanted to make it as seamless as possible for our guests to do everything from the resort, and our partnerships make this possible,” he explains. “I’ve worked at 500-room properties, and you just can’t offer the same level of quality service.
“With a smaller staff-to-guest ratio, it’s much easier to give individualized attention to each of our guests’ needs, and that’s what we strive to do.”