First Woolley’s Classic Suites Coming to Aurora

Founder of suite hotel concept finally has his name on the sign.

WoolleysAurora does not enjoy the most favorable image as anyone who follows the Denver local news knows. But while shootings, fires and hit-and-run incidents make headlines, good news frequently does not. In truth, Aurora is a sprawling city with all sorts of residential and commercial areas, interlaced with public land — much in proximity to Denver International Airport.

That made it an attractive location for a “four star caliber hotel,” the flagship of Woolley’s Classic Suites, a new hotel brand from the family of Robert E. Woolley, who started it all. In 1969, Woolley converted an apartment complex into the original Granada Royale Hometel, which  grew into a chain of 26 properties. It was bought in 1984 by the Holiday Inn Corporation under the new Embassy Suites name. According to the company website, “From 1965 through the present, Woolley-affiliated companies and partnerships have developed and operated more than 11,000 hotel rooms in nearly 50 hotels and resorts with an aggregate completed value exceeding $1.1 billion. Before being profitably sold to other operators, Woolley’s extensive portfolio of hotel, restaurant, office and residential developments were found throughout Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, Texas and Mexico.”

That’s quite a track record leading to the new hotel in Aurora whose market is clearly the business traveler. Woolley’s Classic Suites, in their words, aims to be “a true hospitality destination, and to transport guests to a welcoming environment where they will be treated to pampering service and luxuriously affordable accommodations. Upon entering, guests are whisked into the property’s inner sanctuary, highlighted by a lush central atrium, complete with year-round ‘outdoor’ patio dining and water feature allowing guests to wander and relax in a setting reminiscent of the European classic hotels where the standards where first established, then refined.”

Model of spacious guest quarters at the first Woolley Classic Suite Hotel soon coming to Aurora.

Model of spacious guest quarters at the first Woolley Classic Suite Hotel soon coming to Aurora.

Again, using their words because the property is not yet open, “Woolley’s Classic Suites features 187 luxuriously appointed, oversized master guestroom suites that range from 525 to 580 square feet in addition to four 1,150-square-foot executive VIP suites. Bathrooms in every guest room feature marble raised bathtubs, floor-to-ceiling glass enclosed showers and double vanities in granite and marble.” There’s also 9,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, a 24-hour complimentary business center, complimentary high-speed internet (wired and wireless), free airport transportation with dedicated shuttles and Colorado’s only Hertz Rent-a-Car self-service kiosk with 24/7 vehicle availability.

Its full-service lunch and dinner restaurant, the Jardin, offers a rotating continental menu developed by chef Daniel Rios, featuring house-made organic homemade cuisine. Additional hotel amenities include “complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast, an indoor saline pool, refrigerators and microwaves in all guest rooms, free parking, complimentary daily manager’s reception, guest laundry facilities and a state-of-the-art fitness center.”

It is located just off I-70 in the Gateway Office Park, 10 miles from DIA and 13 miles from downtown Denver. The address is 16450 East 40th Circle. Aurora, CO 80011;  720-599-3750.

A Celebration of Spring Skiing

The gentle joys of season’s end.

037Free music, drinks on the patio and pond-skimming are traditional end-of-season activities at ski areas from coast to coast, but for me, the gentler joys of soft snow, sunshine and absence of crowds are what cause me to mourn the end of winter — especially this year, now that I’ve recuperated from back surgery and am back on skis again. Several Colorado ski areas have extended their seasons (Arapahoe Basin plans to operate into June), so I’m hoping to get a few more days in. But if yesterday at Copper Mountain turns out to be the last day, it was a great end to a wonderful winter — even if it got a bit cloudy.

My friend Cathy Dold and I have enjoyed many a wonderful ski day -- always midweek.

My friend Cathy Dold and I have enjoyed many a wonderful ski day — always midweek.

 

Note the absence of anyone on the wide slope below or the lack of vehicles on I-70 below.

Note the absence of anyone on the wide slope below or the lack of vehicles on I-70 beyond.

Note the absence of anyone on the wide slope below or the lack of vehicles on I-70 below.

Note the absence of anyone on the wide slope below or the lack of vehicles on I-70 beyond.

The view remains wintry, but mid-April on the calendar foretells the end of the 2013-14 ski season.

The view remains wintry, but mid-April on the calendar foretells the end of the 2013-14 ski season.

With no liftlines, skiers and riders can pack a lot of runs into a day. Refueling at Jack's.

With no liftlines, skiers and riders can pack a lot of runs into a day. Refueling at Jack’s.

Another sign of spring is long icicles dripping like stalactites on speed.

Another sign of spring is long icicles dripping like stalactites on speed.

Anyone looking to refresh the gear locker or closet is wise to check out the en-of-season sales.

Anyone looking to refresh the gear locker or closet is wise to check out the end-of-season sales at resort ski shops.

As the cliché goes, “Ski you later.”

Pet-Friendly Luxury Hotel in D.C.

Monti the beagle welcomes visitors to fine capital hotel.

JefersonDC-logoThe Jefferson, DC, an award-winning, luxury hotel that welcomes humans from all over the world, also welcomes canines of all types and sizes from Irish wolf hounds to Chihuahuas. Dogs can look to one of their own on the hotel staff. A beagle named Lord Montgomery (Monti to his friends and fans) is the hotel’s first official Canine Executive Officer (CEO). Monti was, of course, named after Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation.

Monti embodies many of the admirable traits so useful in the hospitality industry. He is intelligent, companionable, good humored and willing to do whatever it takes for a unique guest experience, even if that means rolling over in the lobby for a belly rub. Monti, an adorable beagle, happily serves as good-will ambassador to all guests from the animal kingdom, as well as human guests who might welcome a four-legged companion.

Monti, The Jefferson DC's CEO.

Monti, The Jefferson DC’s CEO.

Monti’s life has been one of ups and downs. His first home was on a farm in West Virginia, where he enjoyed romping in the outdoors with his siblings. Abruptly, the farm was sold and the siblings were split up. Monti was put out on the streets to wander and somehow made it to Ocean City, Maryland, where a good Samaritan found him and brought him to PAW Rescue, a pet-adoption organization.

When The Jefferson, DC was searching for a rescue dog to become the its new goodwill ambassador, the hotel’s managing director, Philip A. Wood, was struck that he and PAW Rescue had his same initials. Picking the shelter from which to adopt was a no-brainer. Monti currently makes his home in Wood’s office but likes to spend as much time as possible meeting, greeting and generally keeping an eye on things in The Jefferson, DC’s historic lobby, where his presence adds a warm cuddly touch to the marble grandeur.

Other dogs — and cats, too — staying at The Jefferson, DC can expect the warm welcome of a dedicated pet bed awaiting in their elegant accommodations, as well as thoughtful amenities to enhance their stay in the nation’s capital. As a pet friendly hotel, it provides all the comforts of home including appropriately sized receptacles for food and bottled water, an array of entertaining toys and treats containing only human-grade ingredients that are thoughtfully provided for four-footed guests.  The hotel’s excellent concierge staff is equipped with detailed maps of the best nearby dog-walking routes, and can recommend pet welcoming establishments throughout the city.

The Jefferson, DC does not charge a deposit for pets, although a fee may be assessed for any inadvertent damage to a room occupied by a pet. The hotel sensibly requests that Guest Services be alerted right away if accidents do happen.  Crates are not required when the humans leave their companions unattended in the room or suite.

1200 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-448-2300 or 877-313-9749.

Greenbrier’s ‘Old White’ Celebrates a Centennial

Golf milestone for storied resort’s most famous course.

Greenbrier-logoI’m not a golfer, but I am an admirer of historic hotels that maintain the classic heritage while keeping up with the times. In that spirit, I congratulate The Greenbrier on the 100th anniversary of its most legendary golf course. An unnamed guest of The Greenbrier will step to the tee of the “Old White” course and launch a golf shot marking the end of the first century of continuous play and the beginning of the second. The centenary of “Old White” will be formally marked on Saturday April 19, when The Greenbrier’s owner and chairman, Jim Justice III, will strike a ceremonial ball from the tee using a 1914 driver.

The Greenbrier's  famous golf course is called Old White, but that could be the name of the historic, luxurious hotel itself.

The Greenbrier’s famous golf course is called Old White, but that could be the name of the historic, luxurious hotel itself.

In 2011, with The Greenbrier’s admission to the PGA Tour’s TPC Network, “Old White” joined the exclusive group of 32 of the most prestigious golf courses in the nation and is now formally known as “The Old White TPC.”  The Greenbrier Classic, played The Old White, is the oldest course on the PGA Tout to continually host an annual tournament. In the world of golf, this is a very big deal. So is the list of those who have golfed there, which reads like a who’s who of golf, celebrity, society and political power: Ben Hogan, The Duke of Windsor, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joe DiMaggio, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tiger Woods and U.S. Presidents including Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Perhaps more than any other individual, however, it was legendary golfer Sam Snead who put The Greenbrier on the map as one of the world’s foremost golf destinations. During his years at The Greenbrier, Snead shot “60″ six times on the Old White course and climaxed his career with a historic final hole-in-one on Hole 18 in 1995.

The Greenbrier was established modestly in 1778 near a natural hot spring and has been in continuous operations ever since. Dolly Madison was one of the early guests. During the Civil War, it served as a hospital. Today, it has 700 rooms, all manner of public spaces and amenities — and has won just about every hospitality award.. In addition to the huge hotel, the resort 10,ooo acres include five golf courses, a championship indoor and outdoor tennis facility (including five outdoor clay courts and five indoor courts), what they like to call “a mélange of sporting activities,” swimming pools, a spa, a casino, a state-of-art medical facility, shops and fine dining, of course. The Greenbrier is so huge that it reportedly can been seen from outer space.

The Greenbrier is offering its Century of Golf play-and-stay package ($175 to $300 per person per night based on double occupancy and requiring a two-night minimum). Not a budget vacation, to be sure, but a very special one at a luxurious and historic property for avid and well-heeled golfers. The Greenbrier, 300 W. Main Street, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986; 855-453-4858.