Hotel Employees Love to Meet New People!
It is always a pleasure to talk to our guests and learn about their experiences in Ouray. Whether it is their first visit, or they have been vacationing here for decades, it seems as if there is always a new story to be told.
Recently a couple checked in celebrating their anniversary. They were married in Ouray in 1968, and went to the Outlaw Restaurant for dinner after the ceremony only to find they were seated next to John Wayne and Robert Duvall who were here shooting the original "True Grit". Apparently the couple didn’t realize who they were sitting by until the two men got up to leave, and the husband informed me that they spent the next four hours of their wedding night driving around town so his wife could get an autograph. It was great story, and very informative; according to our guests, Mr. Wayne burnt his fingers on his BBQ ribs that night. Even 40 years ago, they were serving food hot and fresh off the grill!
It is easy to spot the guest who has just traversed the Million Dollar Highway for the first time. Often shaky, and always awestruck, they walk in the door with a sense of accomplishment. Especially if they had no idea of the road they were going to be driving before putting tires to pavement in Durango.
Last year, some young men from Europe trusted to their GPS a little too much, and found themselves at the top of Corkscrew Pass in a rented SUV. Their harrowing tale still makes me chuckle, mostly because of the delivery. These guys were great sports, and fortunately had rented a vehicle with high clearance and four wheel drive. One thing to remember when travelling in the San Juan mountains: all of the four-wheel drive jeep trails are mapped on County roads, which, when the GPS is figuring a journey by shortest distance……. Long story short, turn off the GPS and stay on the highway.
Regardless of how they feel when they arrive, it’s just a matter of time before we get to see our guests relaxed and happy. Once checked in and settled, a trip to the natural mineral hot springs tubs in the courtyard is typically the next step. Just a few short minutes in the soothing water is enough to wash away even the longest, most stressful day on the road. Rested and mellow, guests come in to the lobby to chat and pick out the evening’s entertainment. With over 350 movies to choose from, it’s pretty fun to watch people reading through the books, and discussing movies and the activities of the day with each other and the staff. The mood is light and friendships are created.
In fact, we have two families who have been coordinating their trips to Ouray for the past ten years. After having met on a jeep tour, they discovered they were staying at the same hotel - The Box Canyon Lodge - and decided to have dinner together. Living on opposite sides of the country, they keep in touch, and haven’t missed a jeep tour together or a soak in the natural hot springs tubs at the Box Canyon Lodge since their first meeting.
We love to hear about what our guests bought in the shops and where they had their favorite meals while in Ouray County. It helps to direct future guests to the spots we know folks have had good experiences. And of course, we encourage our guests to let each other know if they disagree with a recommendation.
Looking for a great meal this past winter, a fellow guest who had just returned from dinner at the Bon Ton informed a young couple in the lobby of the Lobster Ravioli he had just enjoyed. Coupled with the incredible service he said, it was by far one of the best dining experiences he had had in ages. Needless to say, the restaurant had a very busy night, and we had a lot of very full and content guests.
Every day it seems there is a new adventure to add tour list. From hiking trail conditions to which gift shop has the best variety; wildlife sightings and crazy adventures, each story gives us just a little bit more insight and more often than not a good chuckle.
About the author: Maria Ziemba works at the Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs and raises her daughter in Ouray. She loves greeting our guests and sharing stories and advice for visitors to Ouray and destinations beyond in Southwest Colorado.