By Shari Valenta
The former Holiday Inn Denver South, near Centennial Airport, is now a Clarion Hotel. Lori Gilmore and her two brothers, Jack and Stephen Nash, recently acquired the hotel through their management company, Round-Up Hospitality, LLC.
“We looked at lots of places, and this was the only one on this side of the airport, so we saw fantastic potential here,” said Gilmore. “A lot of work needed to be done.”
The facility has recently undergone a much-needed makeover, with lots of new paint and carpet. New equipment is in the fitness center. The pool is being upgraded to an indoor/outdoor amenity. The roof has been replaced, and stone and stamped concrete now adorn the entryway. Wireless Internet is now available throughout the building. More renovations are planned, including retiling the lobby and guest rooms. Banquet room lighting also had to be upgraded.
“New chandeliers were added to all the banquet rooms. The original lighting was horrible,” said Gilmore “In one of the banquet rooms, one of the lights had gone out, so a garage light was put in with a big ugly orange extension cord stuck through the ceiling tile!”
In addition to the hotel’s changes, the restaurant now boasts a new name, menu and manager, Jovita Fleischman. Fleischman, owner of NS1, Inc., also manages the Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant in the Denver Tech Center. The Final Approach is now called the Aviators Grill. The menu will serve standard breakfast, lunch and dinner fare, but a few Mexican items have been added. Fleischman brought in one of her own Garcia’s chefs, Ricardo Amador. The breakfast restaurant, Wings, will retain its original name and menu.
One thing that won’t change is the original staff of 20 Holiday Inn employees.
“We had no reason to get rid of people, and besides, they know the business,” explained Gilmore. “We didn’t come here to change everything—just spruce it up.”
The Clarion Hotel ? Denver South has 120 rooms, 45 suites and five efficiency penthouse suites.
Some people think it’s unusual that Gilmore works with her two brothers. She says they’re all working on different projects, so they don’t get in each other’s way.
“I coordinate with food and beverage operations and I’m director of sales. Steve is general manager and does accounting. Jack is already the general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites in the Denver Tech Center. We tell him we can’t afford him, so he can’t come and play with us,” Gilmore said jokingly. “No, actually, we call him our jack-of-all-trades, because he does so many things. He also helps make decisions.”
The siblings have help from their father, Manny Nash, who owned a Landmark Inn in Denver while they were growing up.
“Dad needed something to do in his retirement, so he became the general contractor for the hotel,” said Gilmore. “He runs around like crazy all day, and then goes home and collapses on the couch. If he weren’t having a good time, he wouldn’t be doing it. He’s been great, and all of us love having him here. Mom comes out too. She gives opinions, of course. That’s a mom’s role, right? She was very helpful when we had an impasse; it’s one more resource.”
Gilmore says she and her brothers sometimes disagree, especially when it comes to decorating.
“Before we closed (on the property), we started to decide on things,” said Gilmore. “The big fight was over these columns that were around the front desk and down the hall. I wanted to take them out. They had wings sticking out of them. Wings belong on planes, not on columns! I guess they were there to give a southwest feel. Lighted bridges connected each column, but they were just sitting there catching dust.
“After we closed, the first thing we did was poke holes in every column to see if we could take them out. Unfortunately, it turned out that the columns were supporting the building, so we had to leave them. We took out the bridges and wings, and then painted the columns. I think it opens up the hallway.”
Despite the differences in taste, Gilmore and her brothers are delighted with their decision to acquire the hotel.
“It’s a lot of work, sometimes 12 to 16 hours a day. When you grow up in the hotel business, you’ll find that once it’s in your blood, you can’t get away from it,” said Gilmore passionately.
Why not drop by and see the changes to the Clarion Hotel firsthand?
“We want people to know we’re here,” said Gilmore. “We have construction specials throughout December, and are offering some great weekend specials for nice getaways.”
The Clarion Hotel at Centennial Airport 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].