A remodeling project that began some 10 months ago is coming to fruition as the new Affordable Inn, formerly El Rancho Motel, opens for business on Friday.
Owner/developer John Hazen said the project has been well worth the long remodeling endeavor.
"This is a new concept hotel that we're starting here and we hope to develop it into a hotel chain," Hazen said. "We have full kitchens and rooms that are much like a studio apartment. We can accommodate the overnight traveler or the person who is staying for months on business."
The 22-room hotel remodeling project began after Hazen purchased the decrepit El Rancho for $165,000. Since that time, the real estate agent and hotel/motel broker has invested more than $200,000 in the project.
"If I'd known what we were going to find when we started the remodel, I would have leveled the whole thing and started over," he said. "But live and learn. We've put together a great hotel and the community is going to benefit from that."
Hazen said nearly everything in the structure is new.
"We've put in a completely new electrical system, new carpet, new kitchens, all new beds and amenities, and just about everything that goes along with furnishing a hotel. We're fixing the pool as well, and that should be done this summer," he said. "Our goal was to build a safe environment. Yes, we spent a lot of money and it looks great."
Hazen said he chose Craig because he likes the community and he saw a need for a hotel in the center of town.
"We love this area it's waiting to blossom and it will with the right vision," he said. "We turn these hotels into profit centers for the community."
Hazen is not stranger to the hotel/motel business. He owns properties in Vail, Glenwood Springs, outside of Grand Junction and he recently owned and sold the Nordic Lodge in Steamboat Springs.
"It's kind of a family business. My daughter owns The Drifter Inn in Baggs," he said. "When we build more of these Affordable Inns, they'll probably be larger ones with 50 to 100 bedrooms."
In building those additional hotels in other markets, Hazen said he looks forward to using local labor much like he did on the Craig project.
"We hired many local subcontractors like Tyke Pierce Construction, Rocky Mountain TLC and Masterworks Mechanical. We wanted to spend our money right here," Hazen said. "The great thing is these guys were honest, they didn't pad their time, and they always did what they said they were going to do. The job was all time and materials and we had no idea what it was going to take to get through this project. The locals were very good to us."
Mayor and owner of Masterworks Mechanical, Dave DeRose, said he's thrilled with the remodel project and with Hazen's willingness to invest in the community.
"It's obvious that anytime someone comes in and upgrades a property, we're happy about that," DeRose said. "It's been a pleasure to work on the project and with John. What he's done there is an asset to all of us, much like it would be an asset no matter who was remodeling a business in the community."
Rodney Cotton of Glenwood Springs was the job superintendent. Although he said there is still some work to do beyond Friday's grand opening, he is pleased with the initial outcome of the project.
"This went relatively smooth," he said. "Something this old could be really bad and we're really pleased with the outcome."
James Bohrer's parents, Walt and Nancy, owned the hotel from 1981 through 1983 and now he's working to help the remodeling process.
"I think this is great and the hotel really needed it," Bohrer said. "It's needed it for 20 years and this has really put some new life in this old building. It's great."
Hazen said the single nightly room rate will be $49 in the winter and $69 in the summer. He said the best deal will be the monthly rate of $175 to $200.
"This hotel will be great for a diverse group of people. From the nightly traveler to the hunter to the business person this hotel is for an expanded base of customers," Hazen said. "We'll give better rates to people working for hospice programs, traveling nurses and people like that as well. And, the location is great near the grocery store, liquor store, post office. We're right in the heart of the town."