Moes sell Best Western Deer Park Hotel
The Best Western Deer Park Hotel in Craig has new owners.
Frank and Kerry Moe, the now-former owners, are retiring. The Moes sold the property, which they’d owned and managed since its construction in 1996 and opening in 1997, to partners led by Anusha Valusa. Valusa and her partners own a Super 8 in Laramie, Wyoming. This is Valusa’s first property in Craig.
“We love the property and the area,” Valusa said by phone Monday. “We always wanted to get to a smaller town. This is a tight community; Frank and Kerry introduced us to everybody in town, and it was great to meet everybody.”
The Best Western, Valusa said, will remain flagged — hotel speak for operating under a brand name — as a Best Western Plus. But, for the first time in its history, it will be owned by someone other than the Moes.
“I’m excited,” Frank Moe said by phone Tuesday. “I’m excited about spending more time with my wife and her spending more time with me. I’m excited to have more time for church callings and doing what a lot of people do in retirement — we’ve taken care of travelers for almost 30 years, but we’ve never had the opportunity to go see the sights ourselves. This is the right time in our lives for this.”
Frank and Kerry started in the hotel business managing the then-Holiday Inn in Craig almost 30 years ago — now the Quality Inn — before purchasing the Colorado Inn, which they owned for a little more than a year.
“We did well enough there that in about a year and a half, we’d developed enough equity to start the project,” Frank Moe said.
Then a Ramada Inn, the hotel opened in January 1997, but, for two and a half decades, the Moes kept building.
“When we built the hotel, everything was builder’s grade,” Kerry Moe said. “We couldn’t afford much. But every year we put money into the hotel — whether we could afford it or not — we kept improving and improving. We knew that would make it the successful property we wanted it to be. Today, just over 25 years old, we look better than we did the day we built, because we kept reinvesting.”
It was a team effort between the couple — Frank said it was important the community always knew “Kerry and I are partners in life and partners in business,” and, indeed, both worked on running and improving the hotel — but also with their staff.
“We’ve had tremendous staff over the years that we’ve been able to work with,” Kerry Moe said. “Probably hundreds, including some young people who’d start in high school, work when home from college, go away, come back, work some more. We were fortunate to have the crew we had.”
The plan for now, according to the new owner, is to keep momentum moving forward.
“We’re going to keep the property as it is, and of course we want to make it even better,” Valusa said. “As of now it’s still in the transition, so it might take some time to think about anything like that. But for now the plan is to keep things the same. Staff will be the same, too.”
The hotel will remain a part of Craig’s hospitality landscape, just as the Moes will remain part of Craig’s community.
“Every day we got to hear our customers’ joy in finding our area and loving it — seeing how special it is,” Kerry Moe said. “We’ve never lost that attitude. We love this valley, and we are staying put. We’re not going anywhere — people ask will we move? Why? We love it here. We love the deer in the backyard, we love our view. We love our friends, our church.
“Our friends have become family, and our community — we love our neighbors. We love this valley. I told Frank the big splurge we’d like is maybe a little travel trailer to see the things everyone else has been seeing the last 30-some years that we haven’t seen.”
The Moes said that, while the new owners are coming from outside the area, they’re confident they will be a great addition to the Craig community.
“We’re really excited about these new owners,” Frank Moe said. “They’re young, energetic. They’re really to become part of the community and support the community — get involved. We know they’ll be a great asset to the community.”
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