Colorado’s hotels were deemed essential businesses and allowed to stay open under Gov. Jared Polis’ stay-at-home order. But local hotels have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many closed as travelers put the brakes on trips and conferences and other large gatherings were canceled.
Three of the Springs’ most prominent resorts — Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, a Dolce Resort; The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Grand Hotel & Spa; and The Broadmoor — shut their doors in March.
Cheyenne Mountain Resort reopened May 26, along with many of its recreational and spa amenities, although capacities in some areas are limited.
The resort’s golf course and tennis courts are open, and it is offering a reopening incentive of a 40 percent discount for activities including ziplining and Jeep tours.
According to its website, the resort’s Alluvia Spa is open but its aquatics facility is available only for fitness and swim classes on a limited basis.
The Mining Exchange remains closed until July 1, but reservations are being accepted at its sister hotel, The Antlers.
The Broadmoor is preparing to reopen June 28. According to its website, restaurants, activities and other amenities will reopen in phases as business levels and state and federal mandates allow.
Here’s a look at three other lodging properties and how they’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
REOPENING SPA SERVICES
Resorts like the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club face special issues with their spa services.
But the resort continued accepting guests for its 116 guest rooms, suites, cottages and casitas, and during the first week of June saw its biggest booking week of the year.
“It was even busier than the same week of last year,” said Les Pedersen, vice president of sales and marketing. “We think there is some pent-up demand from people not being able to travel.”
Like other local resorts, Garden of the Gods Resort and Club offers spa services, through its spa and salon Strata Body. But it is unique in that it also provides medical wellness services through Strata Integrated Wellness, and functional medical services including acupuncture and chiropractic care, cardiology and genetic and blood testing.
Hair and nail services at the spa resumed May 1, said Grant Jones, vice president of wellness. The spa’s in-gym fitness activities, including weight and cardio rooms, reopened June 8.
“We’ve relocated portions of the gym to additional outlets on the property — meeting room spaces — to support physical distancing,” Jones said.
“We have also relocated half of our spin bikes out onto an area we call Garden Terrace, which overlooks the mesa and the Garden of the Gods Park.”
Massage services also resumed this week.
“We’ve enhanced our safety precautions and safety measures to make sure that guests feel comfortable,” Jones said.
Some services that can’t be performed without a mask remain off limits, including facials and face and lip waxing. Those services will resume when guidelines from Gov. Jared Polis and the Department of Regulatory Agencies permit.
Office visits to Strata Wellness were temporarily suspended earlier this spring, but its 16 practitioners continued to consult with patients via telehealth platforms.
Patient visits resumed April 27, and Jones expects the demand for these services to grow.
“We believe that, following COVID, there will be a renewed sense of the importance of preventative, personalized health. At Strata Wellness, that’s what we do,” Jones said.
At all of its facilities, the resort is taking extraordinary precautions to protect the health of guests, patients and team members.
Staff are required to log temperature and any symptoms at the beginning and end of each shift, wear masks and gloves, practice social distancing and provide services in a touch-free or contactless manner whenever possible.
The resort has increased training for staff and stepped up schedules for cleaning and sanitation.
Fitness activities are based on 45-minute appointments, after which there is a 15-minute break that allows for disinfection as well as for employees to relax and take a break from their masks.
While that does limit the number of people the spa is able to serve, Pedersen said the resort is offering two new special promotions to increase bookings.
A “staycation” package offers guests 20 percent off the best available room rate, and a “good old days” package includes a resort credit of up to $300 per stay, depending upon the length of the stay, to be used for spa amenities.
Jones noted that many services at the spa and salon and wellness center are available to people in the community.
“It’s a great resource and frankly a hidden gem of Colorado Springs,” he said.
NEW HOTEL’S STRUGGLES
The 10-story Hilton Garden Inn at Cascade Avenue and Bijou Street was the first newly constructed hotel to be built in downtown Colorado Springs in 40 years.
The hotel opened in September to strong occupancy of its 168 rooms and robust bookings for its meeting spaces, said General Manager Daniel Valdez. But the pandemic put a damper on its strong start.
“We were looking forward to a very different summer,” Valdez said.
Reservations fell off in mid-March, and the hotel closed March 22. Since it reopened May 15, “it’s been pretty slow,” he said.
“We were running about 78 percent occupancy” before the closure, Valdez said. “Now I would say we’re running about 18 percent. I do expect to see those numbers improve as more restaurants and attractions start to open and people get more comfortable.”
The hotel’s staff was furloughed when the hotel shut down but is being brought back slowly as business dictates. Valdez said about 25 percent had returned as of early June.
Operations have changed since the health crisis struck.
“Hilton has some pretty rigorous cleaning standards and has rolled out a new program,” Valdez said. That includes waiting 72 hours after a guest checks out before new guests can enter a room.
Front desk employees are required to wash their hands a minimum of once per hour. Housekeeping staff must wash up after cleaning each guest room. High-touch areas are kept clean “at all times,” he said.
“We’re learning to do pretty much everything in a new way,” he said, “even as far as how we communicate with our guests. We’re doing more virtual tours with prospective clients, rather than on-site.”
Bookings scheduled for the hotel’s conference room, which has a capacity of about 100 people, and the 10-person board room were canceled. But many of the events that were to have taken place in March through July have been rescheduled for September, October and November.
“We’re extremely optimistic about those months,” Valdez said. Nevertheless, he expects the hotel’s revenue loss for 2020 to be “pretty significant.
“Hotel rooms are a perishable inventory,” he said. “You can’t go back and sell a room tomorrow that we should have sold yesterday.”
The hotel’s full-service restaurant and bar remain closed, but Valdez hopes to reopen them by the end of June.
“I don’t have a firm date yet,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’ve really done our homework and that we are practicing all of the guidelines that are put forth and knocking those rules out of the park.”
PLANNING FOR OPENING
Kinship Landing, the boutique hotel being built on South Nevada Avenue, is on schedule to be completed in the fall.
“We did not miss a single day of construction as a result of COVID,” owner Bobby Mikulas said. “We’re communicating that we will be welcoming our first guests in 2020, hopefully in early fall,” barring any unforeseen delays.
Mikulas said general contractor Gordon Construction has adhered to local and state guidelines regarding masks, social distancing and other requirements, and doing so hasn’t impacted the timeline.
Construction of the hotel began in September 2019 and is about halfway complete.
While construction is under control, the pandemic has injected a measure of uncertainty around the hotel’s opening.
“One of the unique predicaments we’re in is we can’t measure the impact of the coronavirus on our day-to-day operations of welcoming and hosting guests, because we aren’t currently operational,” Mikulas said.
Kinship Landing will be a unique combination of six shared dorm rooms, 28 private rooms and seven luxury suites with a total of about 82 beds. It’s envisioned as a place that will connect guests with locals and guide them in exploring the Pikes Peak region.
Mikulas said the shared dorm component represents a small proportion of the total number of rooms the hotel will be offering.
“I think sometimes people confuse us with a hostel,” he said. “That’s just not what we are. We’re a boutique hotel property.
“The dorms are a product that will be relevant to the modern traveler for a long time into the future,” he said. “What we’re going to do in the next one to five years is make sure we’re adhering to every single safety and health measure that we can possibly take as recommended by the state and the CDC.
“We’re monitoring that on a week-by-week basis to see what the health realities are that we’re going be facing once we’re opening. We have some contingency plans in place to be able to offer a product if we need to adjust those features,” he said.
“We have to hope for the best, plan for less than the best and see where the chips fall as we get closer to having to make some of those decisions operationally.”