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Status of founder of the Stanley Hotel

Statue of F.O. Stanley in front of the Stanley Hotel – Photo by Gwyn Goodrow

I have always been an avid viewer of classic movies and enthusiastic about well-written stories. One of the best of these stories is The Shining, written by Steven King. When we toured Colorado recently, I was thrilled to stay at The Stanley Hotel, which inspired such an excellent piece of fiction that leaves the reader spellbound. The hotel sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Estes Park with a radiance that makes the Stanley Hotel, the Jewel of Estes Park.

History of the Stanley Hotel

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the scourges afflicting the United States was the illness of Tuberculosis. This led to many having difficulty breathing and other respiratory problems. Many afflicted people looked for places with climates that helped with their difficulties. One of these victims of Tuberculosis was Freelan Oscar Stanley. On the advice of his doctor, Freelan and his wife Flora Stanley relocated from Newton, Massachusetts to Denver, Colorado.

His health did not immediately improve, so he moved again in search of relief. This time he was advised to go to Estes Park at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The new location proved much better for his health, so he decided that he would return yearly.

Freelan and Flora were so happy with their time in Colorado that they decided to build a new home in Estes Park. The cost of this was not a hindrance to the couple. Freelan Stanley had several successful businesses that made him quite wealthy.

Companies operated by F.O. Stanley

Freeland Stanley and his brother Francis Stanley owned the Stanley Dryplate Company and Stanley Motor Carriage Company. The Stanley Dryplate Company manufactured photographic plates allowing the mass marketing of photographic materials. It was extremely successful and later sold it to George Eastman of Eastman-Kodak.

The second company, the Stanley Motor Carriage Company was an early producer of motor vehicles. Their vehicle was the Stanley Steamer with twin cylinders providing power to the rear axle. A Stanley Steamer recorded a record speed of 28.2 seconds for a mile in 1906.

Stanley Steamer in the hotel lobby

Stanley Steamer

In 1907, Freeland Stanle began the construction of an opulent hotel in Estes Park. It was a 48 room hotel that was designed to cater to the fine tastes of wealthy patrons from New England and New York. It also provided a resting place for customers recovering from tuberculosis. The hotel was completed in 1910 and used a fleet of steam power cars to transport its visiting guests from the nearby rail station in Lyons, Colorado to the resort hotel.

The hotel was never financially self-sufficient during its early years, so it was sold in 1926 to a private company geared to its operation. It was later sold to other hotel operators with being sold in 1930 to Roy Emery of Denver, Colorado. Through the 1980's it was only open during the summer season. It was during this time that the author Steven King stayed at the hotel that served as his inspiration for the setting of the novel, The Shining. Today, The Stanley Hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places and a member of Historic Hotels of America.

Stanley Hotel Tours

The hotel offers several different tours to allow guests to become immersed in the history and atmosphere of the hotel. On each of the tours, the costumed tour guide is dressed in attire consistent with the time that the hotel was built and initially operated.

The day tour is 60 minutes long as introduces guests to the Stanley's, and noteworthy guests such as Steven King. The tour is limited to no more than 10 people, with a minimum age of 9. The night tour is similar to the day tour but has visual enhancements that showcase the Rocky Mountain scenery. For guests 8 and younger, the hotel offers a family tour using I-Spy to learn about Freelan Stanley and his impact on Estes Park.

Exploring Room Accommodations

The hotel offers four distinctly different types of accommodations for guests to choose from. The Stanley offers original historic rooms with classic furnishings. It includes free Wi-Fi and large-screen television. Our room was situated near a corner and had views of the nearby mountains. Guests in the main hotel can also request one of the rooms known for spirited activity. 

The Lodge offers updated historic rooms that offer a boutique feel. The Aspire has apartment-style rooms with kitchenettes. The hotel also offers a condominium experience with one to three bedrooms

Attractions in the Hotel

The Stanley Hotel offers many different venues to get a bite, wet your whistle, or just hang out with friends.

Entrance to Cascades Restaurant

Entrance to Cascades Restaurant

Cascades Restaurant

The Cascades Restaurant showcases local cuisines that fill your need for a hearty meal. It is located on the patio within view of a spectacular waterfall. While the restaurant seating area is spacious, the floor-to-ceiling windows offer splendid views of the park area surrounding the hotel and create a cozy atmosphere for diners.

The Whiskey Bar

The Whiskey Bar provides lunch and dinner selections as well as excellent choices from their drink menu. They feature Colorado's largest selection of whiskeys and single malt scotches.

Cherry Company at hotel ground floor

Colorado Cherry Company confectionery and eatery

Colorado Cherry Company

If you are looking for a quiet moment with friends or for some self-reflection, the Colorado Cherry Company cannot be missed. They offer gourmet snacks and gifts such as locally crafted chocolates, honey spreads, and gourmet popcorn. This bistro is located on the ground floor of the main hotel building and has limited seating.

Things to do in Estes Park

When you leave The Stanley Hotel, do not forget to take the time to enjoy all of the excellent attractions in and around the town of Estes Park. The town has many excellent eating establishments such as the Estes Park Pie Shop, located just down the hill from the Stanley Hotel. It has a varied menu for both breakfast and lunch. If you order one of their sandwiches, make sure that you are ready for a full plate of food. Their lunch was so good and plentiful, that we almost couldn't eat it all. Don't forget to try one of their pies. I ate a slice of their Rhubarb pie. As a visitor from New England, I can attest that it was authentic and a spectacular culinary treat.

Elk Statue

Another activity that should not be missed is the exploration of the Rocky Mountain National Park. Estes Park is the entry point on the eastern side of the park. One tip for your visit to the area is to make sure that you download the app for touring the Rocky Mountain National Park. It is available on iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Stanley Hotel


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