Q&A with the new GM of Glenwood’s Hotel Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs has a new general manager, John Burns, whos been at the historic hotel for a couple of months. Hes been with Providence Hospitality, the parent company of the Hotel Colorado, for about 15 years and has previously managed the hotel when Providence first acquired the property.Burns sat down with Inside Business, published Tuesdays in The Aspen Times, and answered some questions about managing the historic hotel through tough economic times, and shared his thoughts about how the hotel will persevere.IB: When and why did you become the new manager of the Hotel Colorado?JB: The reason I came here is [Providence] had a transition with the general manager that was here, Larry McDonald, who went to The Plains Hotel, which is one of our sister properties in Cheyenne, Wyo. David Storm, president of Providence Hospitality, wanted to get someone here that was familiar with the hotel and also with the company, so there was not a change in management style up here.IB: What are the challenges of managing a historic hotel?JB: Good and bad, the challenges are with it being an older property you are always looking at what you dont see the plumbing and different areas that youve got to keep up. But the fun part about it is that there is so much history involved in the hotel. For example, Theodore Roosevelt used to stay here, it used to be called the Western White House. We say the teddy bear originated here because of his hunting trips to the area. And what weve tried to do, which I think is kind of fun and that people dont realize is that when we renovated the hotel we tried to take it back to the period of where it was originally.IB: What is the best part of being general manager at the Hotel Colorado?JB: I think the best aspect is working with the staff because theyve worked here for years, they know the hotel and its fun to develop that kind of family approach. And its really neat in this size hotel, its more of a hands-on type thing, being involved more, compared to a 9,000-room property. You know every staff member and you get to know their families. And the customers, we have a lot of return guests that come back to the property and you get to know them as well.IB: How do tough economic times affect hotels like the Hotel Colorado?JB: As every business it is affected, you just have to look at ways to work around it. We look for more business from Denver and other areas. We are close to Denver, so we can still get some local business coming in. But as I said, like any other business, when it slows down, we control our expenses, watch our payroll and do whatever weve got to do to get through it.IB: How is the hotel handling the uncertain economic future, or has the hotel been impacted (or do you think it will be) by the current economic woes?JB: Weve been very fortunate. I think we do a lot of visits on the weekend, we had a great fall season with people coming into town to see the leaves and we still do a lot of regional business. Now we are getting ready to kick into the holiday season which is very strong for us.IB: What, specifically, can you do to help with business during the economic slowdown?JB: You see with our location and the climate here, and our close proximity to Grand Junction, Aspen, and Vail, it becomes a very nice meeting spot. I think one of our niches well be looking at is your retreats, and your smaller corporate meetings because our location is so easy to get to and there are so many things to do in the area.IB: From a marketing perspective, how important or valuable is the Hotel Colorado to Glenwood Springs?JB: We really feel that the hotel is part of Glenwood. Its been here for 115 years, and we want for it to continue to be a part of the history of Glenwood Springs. We want the community to feel that it is their hotel. One of the things we want more of is for people to come in, have dinner and take advantage of the lounge. We are really focused a lot more on what can we do to capture more of the Glenwood citizens.IB: There was a recent remodel of the Hotel. Are there plans for other changes in the future?JB: Its an ongoing process when youre talking about these types of hotels. The biggest renovation so far has been the lobby being redone; we brought back the Polo Lounge, and put back the polo fields and the new Barons Restaurant that opened last year.IB: What is the overall appeal of the hotel for visitors and for people who use it for banquets/events?JB: I think its the experience and the ability to come in and kind of relive history. Its amazing how many people we have come in and just walk around and look at all the pictures and stuff. Its a living part of history. Its got a great feel and staying here you get a chance to be a part of history.
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