By Reggie Paulk
Situated across the street from the Centennial Airport (APA) control tower, the Clarion Hotel Denver South is the only hotel on airport property. Regardless of where you may tie down, the hotel is within reasonable walking distance. Of course, walking isn’t necessary if you use their complimentary shuttle service.
Formerly a Holiday Inn, the building came under new ownership when acquired last year by Lori Gilmore and her brothers, Stephen and Jack Nash. The hotel is locally owned and operated under the banner of Clarion. At any given time, Gilmore or one of her brothers are working on the property. It’s not often that the owner of a hotel property answers a customer’s needs, adding an unexpected level of service to the hotel.
For anyone living along the Font Range, the blizzard of 2006 brings back memories of snow—lots and lots of snow. If you weren’t shoveling it, it was falling, and if it wasn’t falling, it was blowing into gigantic drifts. For Gilmore, the blizzard was a test of the hotel’s capabilities.
“Everybody was either stranded or they were working,” Gilmore said. “Some of the working people were stranded. We had Arapahoe County Road and Bridge; we had all the snowplow guys from across the street at the airport. They would trudge back and forth because the snow was so bad. We had sheriffs and dispatchers.”
In addition to accommodating emergency crews and first responders, the hotel was also in the middle of a major renovation.
“We replaced the furniture and the flooring during the blizzard,” Gilmore said. “We did most of the painting then, too. We replaced all the towels and bedding.”
The hotel shows off its new appointments well. The top floor houses the executive suites, and Gilmore proudly described them during a recent tour.
“All of the executive suites have skylights and full kitchens,” she said. “They’re all over 1,000 square feet. The bathrooms all have skylights, and each suite has a balcony.”
Before becoming a hotel, the suites were condominiums and included fireplaces.
“Because of obvious safety issues, we replaced the fireplaces with plasma screen televisions,” she said.
The hotel is noticeably quiet.
“This hotel was built to be on an airport,” Gilmore explained. “They built it like a bunker, and like a bunker, you can’t hear anything. When we re-did the wireless for the building, the guys complained bitterly. We have a wireless router for every eight rooms.”
Regarding airport noise, the hotel’s location is ideal. Located on the east side of the parallel runways, the hotel sits opposite the normal traffic pattern for local air traffic, which flies on the west side of the runways, over the Denver Tech Center.
“The only aircraft we hear over here are the medevac helicopters that occasionally land on this side of the airport,” Gilmore notes.
For those who don’t know the difference, a hotel is full service, providing rooms, meeting areas and meal services. Motels only provide rooms. Among the Clarion Hotel Denver South’s offerings are free Internet and phone service.
“We have free local and domestic long distance calling and wireless Internet in all our rooms,” says Gilmore. “Our meeting rooms also have high-speed connections so they can plug into Ethernet. For security reasons, some organizations can’t use wireless, so we have Ethernet to accommodate them.”
In addition to a nice workout facility, the hotel also has a heated, covered pool.
“On a really warm day, we can open the ceiling panels and it’s essentially an outdoor pool,” Gilmore said. “And since it’s heated, we use it year-round.”
One of the best-kept secrets of the hotel is its kitchen. In addition to providing a breakfast buffet in the morning, there’s a full cook-to-order menu from which to choose. And it’s not just for guests; walk-ins are welcome during hours of operation.
“Breakfast is served from 6 to 10 Monday through Friday and 6:30 to 10:30 on the weekend,” Gilmore said.
The Aviators Grill near the front lobby of the hotel serves lunch from 11 a.m.—2 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m.—10 p.m. every day. It’s also open to the public.
For those who’ve never been to the hotel, or those who haven’t been back in a while, the Clarion Hotel Denver South is definitely worth a look. If you’re looking for a quiet stay a stone’s throw from the airport, or a good meal at a decent price, stop by—you’ll be glad you did.
The Clarion Hotel Denver South is located at 7770 South Peoria St. For more information or to make a reservation, call 303-790-7770 or 877-424-6423, or visit [http://www.choicehotels.com/hotel/co054].