Historic Hotel Colorado, other lodges closing until novel coronavirus concerns subside; some staying open, with precautions

Glenwood Springs’ iconic Hotel Colorado shut down operations Wednesday until at least mid-May, amid fewer and fewer guests and in the interest of keeping its staff safe amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to being a good member of the community,” hotel General Manager Christian Henny said. “Some of our staff wasn’t comfortable dealing with the guests we did have here.”

Some of those guests had just left Aspen, or were looking for an alternative since Aspen was on an even more-heightened shutdown than Garfield County.

Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order Wednesday evening through April 11, allowing only essential businesses to stay open. Hotels and motels are listed as essential businesses, but temporarily closing the Hotel Colorado was the best thing to do for employees given the ongoing public health emergency, Henny said.

“We decided it’s a way to treat our employees with respect,” Henny said of the Hotel Colorado’s decision to close until at least May 15. “We shouldn’t be forcing them into a situation where they are not comfortable.”

Hotel maintenance crews began work Wednesday morning to secure the 127-year-old historic structure and will implement 24-hour manned security in addition to extra video surveillance, Henny said.

“We also cleaned out our kitchen and donated all of the food to our employees,” he said, adding hotel restaurant and catering had about $15,000 worth of food in stock. Health benefits are also being maintained for furloughed staff, Henny said.

Around Glenwood Springs, numerous other hotels and motels have closed for varying periods of time, including the Hotel Denver (until at least April 15); Hotel Glenwood Springs (until May 1); and the Hot Springs Lodge (until further notice). and the Glenwood Springs Chamber are maintaining a live Google spreadsheet online providing status updates for numerous Glenwood Springs lodges and other businesses. 

Other lodges remain open in an effort to take care of travelers and commercial truck drivers passing through on Interstate 70, as well as their weekly or monthly residential guests.

Best Western Antlers in north Glenwood remains open, and has implemented extra public health precautions to protect guests and staff. Antlers and other properties that remain open are providing “grab-and-go” breakfast items, but have suspended full breakfast service, in accordance with public health orders.

Because of their outside room access, as opposed to interior hallway access, Antlers and some of the smaller motels in Glenwood Springs have said they feel they can remain open and within the “social distancing” recommendations, according to Lisa Langer, director of tourism promotion for the city.

That includes the Red Mountain Inn in West Glenwood, which wrote in its status report to the Chamber, “Our exterior entries to rooms help minimize personal contact.” Office hours, however, have been reduced to 8 a.m.–9 p.m.

The companion Marriott properties at Glenwood Meadows have also combined forces during the public health emergency. The Courtyard Inn is closed temporarily, and reservations are being referred to the neighboring Residence Inn, which remains open.

The Holiday Inn Express also remains open, while the neighboring Hampton Inn is on partial shutdown and is using the time to finish a remodel project, according to the directory.

Hotel Colorado’s Henny said business had been good up until Friday when the heightened health alerts and impacts from the state-ordered restrictions, including no in-restaurant dining, began to impact tourism.

“We already had furloughed half of the staff when the restaurants had to close, and that just started the spiral,” he said.

The closure comes as the Hotel Colorado and other properties were starting to gear up for the late spring and summer season.

“We canceled all the J-1s (cultural and educational exchange visa recipients) we had lined up for the summer,” Henny said. “The biggest issue is just this uncertainty, and when this will be past us.

“We look forward to coming back out of this, and rocketing forward,” he said.

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