Mr. Hospitality: From bellman at the Griswold Inn to general manager of Hotel Colorado, meet Christian Henny
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Christian Henny started working in hotels when he was a 16-year-old junior in high school.
“I think it was like $3.35 an hour,” Henny said of his pay at the time. “Plus tips.”
It was the 1980s, shortly after the release of “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” which told the story of the Griswold family’s trip to Walley World amusement park in California. Ironically, the first hotel Henny worked at was called Griswold’s Inn in Claremont, California.
In his 34-year career in the hotel industry, Henny has encountered quite a few characters.
Once, while working as bell captain at the Hilton in Ontario, California, Henny had to inform a lady checking in with a dog that pets, unfortunately, were not allowed.
“Hotels were not pet-friendly back then,” Henny said.
However, upon politely informing the woman of the Hilton Hotel’s no pets policy at the time, Henny was met with a not so friendly response.
“‘Don’t you know who my sister is?’” retorted the woman.
Her sister was Zsa Zsa Gabor, who in addition to being a famous actress was once married to the founder of Hilton Hotels, Conrad Hilton.
“I said, ‘Well, very nice to meet you Mrs. Hilton. But, your dog still has to stay outside,’” Henny said of his response. “She wasn’t too pleased.”
Today, the 50-year-old Henny works as Hotel Colorado’s general manager with his 100-pound shepherd Kylo at his side.
A little over 2, Kylo has been with Henny every step of the way since he became the historic hotel’s general manager in October 2017.
“He’s kind of the hotel’s unofficial mascot,” Henny said. “He’s my partner in crime.”
For Henny, life as a hotel general manager involves workweeks that oftentime last north of 50 hours.
“Controlled chaos,” Henny laughed.
“You can have your schedule mapped out … and then something happens,” Henny said. “It’s a 126-year-old building, things happen.”
Recently, Henny and his team of roughly 90 employees hosted a $125,000 VIP party to display Hotel Colorado’s newly renovated ballrooms and meeting space to 550 guests.
From the ballrooms’ presentations to the hors d’oeuvres served, the evening of Aug. 22 was a pivotal point in Hotel Colorado’s history and Henny’s career.
“That’s either homerun, ball’s out of the park and I’ve secured my seat. Or, it’s better brush up my resume,” Henny said. “I was very proud of my team.”
Safe to say, Henny secured his seat.
In addition to serving as Hotel Colorado’s general manager, Henny also sits on the city’s Downtown Development Authority, Financial Advisory Board as well as the Glenwood Springs Chamber and Resort association board of directors.
“I think that my give-back-to-the-community sense of purpose is from my mother,” Henny said.
Henny’s mother, Pat Henny, volunteered and ran two chambers of commerce while his father, Carl Henny worked as an engineer on the Saturn V Rocket as part of the Apollo Space Program.
Married for 52 years, Henny’s parents still live in the same house he grew up in as a child in California.
“My dad instilled hard work and perseverance,” Henny said.
While Henny has worked in hotels across the country, he hopes to finish his career in Glenwood Springs.
“I’d love to meet the right lady. Dating in this town is not easy,” Henny laughed.
A lover of local brisket and Colorado beers, Henny feels right at home in Glenwood Springs.
“I really love this town and would love to spend the rest of my career here, and retire here,” Henny said.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.