STEEPED IN HISTORY, THE NEWLY RENOVATED WESTERN HOTEL & SPA IN OURAY BLENDS OLD WEST CHARACTER WITH ELEVATED AMENITIES.
A landmark hotel in Ouray is reconfigured with 16 luxury suites. PHOTO BY STEPHAN WERK
WHEN COLORADO REAL ESTATE FIRM Zeppelin Development bought the Western Hotel & Spa (thewesternouray.com), one of the country’s last remaining 19th-century wood-frame hotels, they knew they’d scooped up something special. “You can’t build the history,” says Adam Larkey, Zeppelin COO. “You can’t build the stories. You can’t build what makes this project unique.”
PHOTO BY STEPHAN WERK
Built in 1891 in Ouray, the Western reopened this past May following a nearly three-year makeover by Zeppelin, centered on updating interior spaces while preserving some of the hotel’s intriguing treasures from the past. The hotel still boasts an early 20th-century mural, taxidermy (mountain lion, buffalo and bear), handpainted wallpaper and stained glass windows. Both the front desk and the hand-carved bar in the saloon are original. The developer tapped Denver’s Dynia Architects to help reconfigure the three-story property, which once housed 40 small boarding-house units. Each of the restructured 16 guest quarters has a fireplace, kitchenette, bespoke leather-upholstered beds by Denver Upholstery Design, sustainable bedding from Boulder’s Suite Sleep and lavender bath products from Los Poblanos. Elevated touches usher in a contemporary yet comfortable feel. Throughout, the design team mirrored the surrounding alpine scenery in the interior’s color scheme.
PHOTO BY STEPHAN WERK
Helming the hotel restaurant is Zeppelin’s culinary director and Grand Junction native Nic Weber, whose pedigree includes San Francisco’s three Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn and Denver’s James Beard award-winning Mercantile Dining & Provision. “He loves to cook on a wood fire,” Larkey says. Weber’s menu is influenced by the Ute tribe (Ouray is named for its former chief)—you’ll find wood-fired ruby trout, bone-in beef short rib, and pulled pork and mole sliders. In the hotel’s lower level, a cozy Nordic-inspired spa features hot and cold saline plunge pools. The subterranean space has a slightly seedy history. “There’s a sealed tunnel with ‘1916’ etched into it,” Larkey says. “It was part of a series of tunnels running between specific buildings for…extracurricular activities.”
The Western’s longevity lends itself to providing an experience unlike most. Simply sipping a craft cocktail at the vintage bar can briefly transport you back in time. “It’s challenging to take all the best parts of the past and marry it with what people’s expectations are now,” Larkey says. “I think we’ve found that sweet spot.”