New hotel going up in Silt
SILT, Colo. Jack Wright and his son Doug just can’t build hotel rooms fast enough to keep up with demand in fast-growing western Garfield County.The Wrights opened a La Quinta Inn in Rifle 18 months ago, and two months ago completed work on a 48-room addition to the hotel. Just a month or so later, they broke ground on an 80-room Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites in Silt. They hope for the hotel to open in June.The building is under construction near the Colorado River south of Interstate 70. Twenty of its rooms will offer balconies overlooking the river. An indoor pool, conference room and breakfast area also will lead to a patio by the river.The undertaking comes as business has exceeded the Wrights’ hopes in Rifle.”We didn’t expect what we saw here. It’s a very pleasant surprise,” said Jack Wright, a Rifle resident who will be moving soon to Collbran.The energy industry has contributed heavily to demand for rooms in Garfield County. Wright said La Quinta also is asked to reserve five rooms a night for possible use by customers of the Garfield County Regional Airport, and the airport would like to reserve five more for use in the winter, when planes sometimes are diverted to the airport because of poor weather in Aspen and Eagle County.Mayor Dave Moore welcomes the arrival of a second lodging establishment in Silt, which also is home to the Red River Inn.”It’s going to be piggybacked by future development,” he said.Doug Wright, a Grand Junction resident, expects to the hotel to encourage possible nearby restaurant development. He said the Holiday Inn Express will offer an expanded continental breakfast, but not have a restaurant.The U.S. Bureau of Land Management also recently decided to relocate its Glenwood Springs offices to Silt, to a location near the hotel. The move, scheduled for March 2009, will bring about 60 employees to Silt. Also, MBC Grand Broadcasting in Grand Junction is pursuing federal approval to operate an AM radio station in Silt.”I feel like good things are coming to Silt,” Moore said.Moore credits former town trustee Doug Williams for helping bring the hotel to town. Williams had encouraged the Wrights to consider a location there, after their success in Rifle.Doug Wright said he and his father felt as if they were pioneers in building a hotel in Rifle, and now feel the same way about Silt.”They had an opportunity for us with a piece of property that was in a great location for us visually,” he said.While the proximity to I-70 is nice, he said the proximity of the river made it even more attractive.He believes Silt would be a viable hotel market even without the oil and gas business, but that business will make it easier for the new hotel to get through the first few years until it has become better established.The hotel also likely will get some business from people wanting to spend the day in the Glenwood Springs area. Some rooms in Glenwood are being occupied long-term by energy industry and construction workers, which can make it harder for tourists to find a place to stay.The Wright Group company will be the builder, owner and manager of the Silt hotel. The Wrights also have been involved with hotel projects in places including Trinidad, Palisade and Utah.The new hotel is likely to revive the idea of a lodging tax for Silt. Town voters have rejected that idea twice, in 2004 and 2006. Town administrator Betsy Suerth said the town board will be considering language for another tax proposal at some point.The Wrights have indicated to the town that they support such a tax. Doug Wright said he was on the tourism board in Fruita in the 1990s, and that community used lodging tax revenues to put on festivals, work on beautification and do other things to make it more attractive to visitors. Those efforts helped to establish Fruita as a mountain biking mecca, he said.A lodging tax can have more positives than negatives for hotels if the money is used properly, for things such as marketing a town to visitors, he said.”That’s what brings people back; that’s what makes them stay another day,” he said.
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