OURAY – Buying the Beaumont Hotel was the dream of a lifetime for Jennifer Wyrick and Chad Leaver, who left the hustle and bustle of Colorado Springs to not only make their home in Ouray, but to live in the historic hotel.
Wyrick said there would be some subtle changes with the new ownership, but their main goal right now is to welcome the public and make them feel like the Beaumont can again be a center of community activities, just as it was when its doors opened in 1887.
The original intent was to build an elegant hotel “to lure capitalists to come and invest in the silver and gold mining business,” according to the hotel’s website, but soon after, the Flagship of the San Juans, as it came to be known, became a social and political hub of the community. “The hotel was used as a meeting place and hosted weddings and grand parties,” the site states.
Wyrick and Leaver want to get back to that idea and are planning a big Halloween bash on Oct. 30, a Thanksgiving dinner in the Grand Ballroom, a New Year’s Eve Ball and other community events yet to be announced.
But there will be some changes. The upscale Tundra Restaurant in the Grand Ballroom will be closed for the winter and used more for special events, Wyrick said.
“It’s a beautiful, amazing space,” she said. “It’s perfect for all kinds of events, both formal and less formal. If more people realized or thought about it when it’s time to plan an event it would be used more. It’s a shame for it to just sit there.”
Bulow’s Restaurant, also housed in the hotel, will be open for lunch and dinner year-round and will offer such specials at Monday Night Football, and Service Industry Night, where Ouray’s many service employees will be able to let off a little steam.
“This will give them a place to go and have fun after work,” Wyrick said. “We’ll have drink specials and will give them a place to chill out and relax and have some fun and wine.”
Bulow’s has been closed for a few days, she said, but reopens Oct. 8.
Another place in the hotel that Wyrick would like to see used more by locals is the Voodoo Lounge, a wine and martini bar on the hotel’s second floor, open to the public on weekends.
“Lot’s of people don’t know it’s here or don’t know what we have to offer, which is a lack of marketing,” she said. “It’s in the most ‘haunted’ spot in the building and as of right now, we’re just open on weekends, but are hoping to have it open year-round.”
The Beaumont’s Spa on the third floor is also open to the public, Wyrick said, which some people also didn’t know.
“We want for the Beaumont to be a fun place where everyone feels they belong,” Wyrick said.
Another change is keeping the hotel open during November, which hasn’t happened before. Room specials for the month start at $86 for a two-night stay throughout the month.”
By keeping rates competitive with other lodging in town, Wyrick said the couple hopes to keep rooms occupied year-round.
In the meantime, there are a lot of little details to handle, and Wyrick spent much of Tuesday morning trying to get the phone company to provide long-distance service, which the hotel had lacked.
Wyrick, 37, has a background in marketing and Leaver, who’s 44, has a background in customer service and marketing. Although Leaver will keep his job for a while, Wyrick said they were both ready for a change from the world of big business and fell in love with Ouray when they first visited in June.
“That was just a few months ago, and it happened very quickly,” she said. “But when it’s right, it’s right.”
They stayed at the Beaumont, loved it, and learned from a shop owner that it was for sale.
“We had been looking for something to do so we could get away from our corporate jobs,” she said. “We were just in the right place at the right time.”
They also had good luck with financing, which was handled by Dan and Mary King, who bought the building at auction in 1998 when it was in decrepit condition after being boarded up for decades, and spent the next five years restoring it.
Wyrick and Leaver sold their home in Colorado Springs to make the down payment on the hotel. According to the Ouray Assessor's Office, the hotel sold for $2.96 million. For the couple, it was the perfect deal.
“It was just meant to be,” Wyrick said. “We just feel so lucky to have come into a place that was restored so beautifully. Dan and Mary paid attention to every single detail.”
Leaver has experience in historic restoration also, Wyrick said, but the building is in such good condition that all that’s needed is maintenance.
Wyrick said she can hardly believe what’s happened.
“Every morning I wake up and wish someone would pinch me,” she said. “It’s like a completely different world out here and I’ve met so many nice people.”
She said the couple would often have 13-year-old Kayleigh, Leaver’s daughter from a previous marriage, here for visits. Kayleigh was here last weekend and spent her time cleaning rooms, washing dishes, playing bellhop and other jobs around the hotel to earn enough money to buy a pair of earring she had admired at the North Moon Gallery, one of the shops on the hotel’s ground floor. The shops, which are all leased out, should stay the same, Wyrick added.
Wyrick said she and Leaver want to get more involved with the community, and hope to eventually meet everybody in town.
In the meantime, she welcomes visitors and locals alike to stop in and say hello and feel at home in the Beaumont, which she said will be run more like a bed and breakfast in the future.
“I just really want the focus to be on locals and to let them know they can come in here and feel welcome and feel comfortable,” she said. “This place was built for them, but so many felt like it was out of their league. But it’s not. It’s here for everybody. It was built for the town.”
In a way, it was built for them too, because the couple, who have been together for a couple of years, plan to be married on the central oak staircase under the hotel’s signature skylight this spring.
“I can’t think of a better place to get married,” she said.
An earlier version of this story misreported the date of the Halloween bash at the Beaumont. It will be on Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. For more information call the Beaumont at 970 325-7000.