Sunday, August 17, 2014

Where to Stay in Kremmling, Colorado: The Hotel Eastin

I have always been enchanted by old buildings, especially ones that are still being used and have maintained their original charm. I like to be able to see the history of a place when I walk into it. I love that feeling of mystery that surround such places. If only walls could talk, I would love to hear the stories they would tell. The Hotel Eastin in Kremmling, Colorado is just such a place.

A couple of weekends ago, one of my dearest friends came to visit me on her way traveling across country. Staying at the ranch with me was not an option, so we decided to rent a hotel room to optimize on our time together. I did not have high expectations for our room. I simply wanted a place for us to rest our heads so that we could then spend all Sunday exploring Arapaho National Forest together. By word of mouth I heard that the Hotel Eastin in Kremmling was inexpensive and clean, which is all I wanted. But as soon as I walked in the front door, I knew we were getting more than we expected.

We were greeted by the sound of music, as Walt sang and strummed his guitar. Other guests were seated around him in the small, but cozy lobby. My friend and I were caused to pause and soak in western melody. We were then greeted by Maryann’s smiling face, as she welcomed us to her hotel. In hushed tones, as to not disturb the the blissful music, Maryann checked us into our room and explain to us all the Eastin had to offer us during our stay. She informed us that coffee, tea, iced tea and homemade cookies were always available in the kitchenette; and that there was also fresh popcorn in the antique style popcorn machine in the corner of the lobby. She also told us about the hut tub that was open 24 hours in the garden out back. She briefly told us the history of the Eastin, how it started out as a Sarsaparilla factory that had boarding rooms on the upper floors. She then handed us our keys and invited as to explore any room with an open door to see all the renovations they had done to the place. Maryann immediately made us feel like old friends, not simply customers. Throughout our short stay at the Eastin, my friend and I shared many great conversations with Maryann.

Walt and Maryann Van Lue were originally from Indiana, but for years they managed a hotel in Estes Park, CO. For over 40 years they dreamed of owning their own hotel. Two years ago they purchased the Hotel Eastin and have been working hard to turn it into the hotel they always dreamed of. Their goal is for every room to be themed, and they are well on their way to making that happen. “I’m no spring chicken,” Maryann said to us, “We are doing this for our children and grandchildren. We want to leave something of character for them.” I found this cause to be noble and inspiring. Just by looking around the lobby, I could tell how important family is to the Van Lues. Old photographs of parents and grandparents were tastefully displayed, along with other family heirlooms, such as Maryann’s mother’s wedding dress. The dress had been shoved in a bottom drawer for years, and her mother tried to throw it away after the death of her husband. But Maryann rescued it from the garbage and now it is proudly displayed in the lobby. Stories like these are what make a place memorable, and the Eastin is full of stories. 

I have no complaints about our room. It was small and simple, but clean and charming. Ours was not one of the themed rooms, but it still had western charm. There was a large screen TV mounted on the wall, though we never switched it on. I was charmed by the old feeling of the place, and the simplicity it brought with it, but I was never left wanting for anything and the place was so clean and organized. 

That first morning, we went downstairs to get coffee and saw Maryann again. She gave us a voucher for 10% off at the Moose Lounge Restaurant down the street, which we took advantage of and had an excellent omelet breakfast. The sign outside promised it was “Clean and Friendly” and that is exactly how we found it to be.


After breakfast, was also stopped at my now favorite local coffee shop, Big Shooters, to get us each a blended ice coffee for the road. My favorite drink is the Growler, an iced mocha with both dark and white chocolate and an extra shot of expresso. 

We then set off to explore Arapaho National Forest. We traveled along the Ute Pass Highway, which was beautiful.

After a long day of getting lost and loving every minute of it, it felt so good to return to the Hotel Eastin and feel welcomed back like it was home. 

Our stay at the Eastin was so short, but it left a big impression on me and I do hope to return.

If you find yourself traveling across highway 40, through Grand County Colorado, and you need a place to stay, do not overlook the Hotel Eastin in Kremmling. You will not be disappointed in this charming establishment, and you might just make a couple new old friends.

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