By Amiee White Beazley / Newsbreak Denver
Grand Junction is a Colorado city on the verge of discovery. With excellent hiking and biking, affordable housing prices and drop-dead views of Mt. Garfield and the Colorado National Monument, it is quickly becoming one of Colorado's most sought-after destinations for travel and relocation.
I've been visiting Grand Junction and the surrounding area for more than 25 years. I've been camping or taking day trips from the Roaring Fork Valley most of the time. Some of that is because while Grand Junction has great restaurants and lots of things to do, there are few interesting, upscale places to stay.
Grand Junction's first boutique and teaching hotel
Things have changed with the opening of Hotel Maverick, Grand Junction's first boutique hotel. Located on the campus of Colorado Mesa University (CMU), the 60-room property is also a “teaching hotel,” meaning it is staffed, in part, by hospitality and culinary students from both CMU and Western Colorado Community College.
According to Tammy Anderson, Hotel Maverick's General Manager, each student makes a six-month commitment to the hotel and participates in hands-on learning in every aspect of the hotel's operations, from cleaning a room to management, maintenance, restaurant service and the front desk.
"They get a taste of everything that makes a hotel work," says Anderson. "They get to see what it is in hospitality they are interested in, or maybe they find out they aren't interested at all. Many of them fall in love with meeting people from all over the world and find a lot of accomplishment in making a difference in peoples' stays."
My experience at Hotel Maverick was one of the best at any hotel in Colorado. Before arrival, I received a courtesy pre-arrival call, asking what time I would check in and if I had any special occasions or requests. The young woman also offered to make a reservation at Maverick's rooftop restaurant, Devil's Kitchen, which Anderson describes as offering "comfort food elevated."
Devil's Kitchen restaurant is a Western Colorado standout
Devil's Kitchen is a standout in Grand Junction. Executive Chef Kenneth Kinser was raised in nearby Paonia and was the former chef in Denver at Yard House. Devil's Kitchen is named for the unique formations of the same name located within the Colorado National Monument. It presents a satisfying menu of plates crafted with numerous locally grown products from Western Colorado farms and ranches.
Amenities for bikers, dog owners and more
As for amenities, Hotel Maverick is full of them. There is room for bike storage and complimentary cruiser bikes to explore the area, and the hotel is dog friendly. The rooms are simple but pristine, and you can't beat the views. In the morning, there is complimentary coffee and tea at Betty's Gourmet Coffee Shop on the ground floor, and should you want to work out, there is a small fitness room and access to the gym on the CMU campus.
Hotel Maverick and Devil's Kitchen fill a niche in the Grand Junction travel scene that was sorely missing, making this once cowboy town a true destination for travelers worldwide.
"We are elite but not elitist," says Anderson. "It's a relaxed atmosphere with an elevated level of service and quality. I'm really proud of the students and what we've been able to accomplish here."