This year, first-time business owner and hotelier Torie Giffin has made her dream a reality, transforming the historic Buffalo Lodge near Manitou Springs into a motel that meets the needs of outdoor enthusiasts.
After riding trails in Colorado Springs for 15 years, Giffin developed a vision to create a single-level hotel where cyclists could ride into their room, hang their bike on the wall and head out the next day for another adventure.
“You don’t want to have to take your bike up six floors and wheel it across the carpet,” she said. “We want to provide amenities that cater to bicycle culture. Cyclists spend a lot of money on their bikes and bicycle travel is huge.”
The four-acre property lies less than a mile from Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Open Space, and also near the Midland Trail connecting Colorado Springs and Manitou. With a rustic lodge and grassy space for barbecues and live music, Giffin said it’s a place for outdoor adventurers to unwind and exchange stories.
“I wanted to create a community for cyclists where it would be a great base camp for adventures and a cool place to return, have a beer and sit by the fire,” she said.
REBRAND AND RESTORE
Giffin purchased the Southwestern-style motel, built in the early 1900s, in June for $1.2 million. Of the 47 ground-level rooms, she’s renovated four, fixing one at a time as the business builds, she said.
Renovations have included modernizing appliances and furniture, and painting bike-themed art on walls.
“We bought the place as-is and have worked really hard on the back end with room cleanliness, making sure every room is a place where my family would stay, or a baby could crawl on the floor,” she said.
Giffin lives on the property with her husband and three kids, and said they [and their staff] always try to give customers the best room available.
“We treat everyone like family,” she said. “This place has a lot of history and isn’t just a motel to put your head down at night — guests are going to have memories here.”
And Giffin said she’s brushed aside skepticism that the motel was too old and costly to fix up.
“I knew whatever I was walking into I would just face it and figure it out,” she said. “While we’ve had issues since moving in, I will make this into something no matter what is thrown at me because it’s a great location, space and idea.”
In the lobby sits a treasure chest called “The Buffalo Lodge Fund” to help with remodeling costs and speed up renovations.
“We’re a little bit more grassroots and think we have the community’s support behind that,” she said. “My hope has been to fix up every room, paint the street, exteriors of the building, build a bar, band stage and put in a cool deck for the pool.”
Giffin, who moved to Colorado Springs 15 years ago, said she’s enjoyed raising her family here, exploring different trails and getting plugged in to the community.
She became involved with the Colorado Springs Cycling Club, taught indoor cycling classes at the YMCA for a while and started her own cycling club. While working for a local Chick-fil-A in community relations, Giffin said she built strong connections to support her business endeavors.
“For years I’d built up other people’s businesses and had done these great things, so I thought, ‘If I can do this for someone else’s business, why can’t I do it for myself?’”
Giffin stumbled across The Buffalo Lodge when she got a flat tire in the area one day.
“I noticed what a valuable location it was, between Manitou and Old Colorado City — a great location for tourists,” she said.
Giffin approached the motel owner and asked, “If you ever decide to sell, will you give me a call?”
The owner replied, “The property is for sale now,” and Giffin said she burst into tears.
“It was emotional at first, and not the best way to start negotiations,” she said. “So I had to backtrack and prove why it was a good decision and validate what I could do with my knowledge of the area, and cycling.”
A UNIQUE COMMUNITY
Giffin said she didn’t have to do much research to know biking in Colorado Springs was “hot.”
“There is something unique to a cycling community,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what your politics or religion might be — everyone comes together around their grand adventures.”
And the community is big for the tourism industry, she said, with cyclists on average spending more money in town than the average tourist, checking out local restaurants and brewhouses.
“Governor [John] Hickenlooper said he wanted to make Colorado one of the top bicycle-friendly states in the country, and the city of Colorado Springs has been working on connecting its bike trails to become more of a top bicycle-friendly city,” Giffin said.
Giffin said the resort is attracting events, people and buzz; three local bike events formed after its opening.
“We just had over 50 people dressed like Santa Claus for Cycling Santa, riding their bikes here through America the Beautiful Park for the first annual 15K ride and it was spectacular,” she said.
The business’ next goal is to acquire a liquor license, but she has experienced a few delays being located in a neighborhood, Giffin said.
“Our goal is to have it by March so we can put a bar in the lodge,” she said. “We’d like to install a patio where guests can get a nice view of Pikes Peak and have a safe, neighborhood place where they can hang out and not drive.”
Giffin hopes the community keeps the motel in mind when family and friends visit or as a space for business meetings and events.
“Business dropped quite a bit after Labor Day and filling rooms this winter is critical to our success,” she said. “Buffalo Lodge used to be a grand place in town. We want to restore it and do it with a lot of heart.”
[su_box title=”Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort” box_color=”#005ac3″]Address: 2 El Paso Blvd.
Opened: August 2016
Employees: 6, year-round
Contact: bicycleresort.com, 719-634-2851, email@example.com[/su_box]