Hotel Bristol Steamboat landmark sells to new owners, will see improvements starting in the spring |

Hotel Bristol in downtown Steamboat sells to new owners

Jack Carlson is part of a small and diverse group of investors who have purchased the historic Hotel Bristol in downtown Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The new owners of the Hotel Bristol say changes are coming to the downtown landmark in the spring, but until then, it will be business as usual.

“We want to respect the history of it, but we also want to modernize it enough and bring it up to the current higher standards of what guests expect, and I’m really confident that we can do that in pretty short order,” said Jack Carlson, who is part of a group of investors who purchased the property, of planned renovations.

“There are going to be lots of fun changes, but we are waiting to get through ski season,” Carlson added. “There will be no changes in the management that existed prior to us until after the ski season, when we as a new ownership group, are going to take over the operation and the management ourselves.”

The property is currently managed by Resort Group.

Carlson, a part-time Steamboat Springs resident, said he is excited and looking forward to his role in running the historic downtown hotel, which was built in 1948 by Steamboat Police Chief Everett Bristol. In November, Andy and Arlene Van Baak, who have owned the 23-room hotel for the past 24 years, sold the property to Carlson’s group, Mountain Metro Properties, for $2.3 million.

“With Hotel Bristol’s colorful and important Steamboat history brokering the sale was very sensitive,” said broker Brett Morganti, who is a certified commercial investment manager with Red 4 Realty Group. “The new owners couldn’t just be anyone. The Bristol’s new owners needed to carry on and possibly improve the property, so that it could continue as one of Steamboat’s iconic landmarks.”

It was the latest in a long line of important sales for Morganti, who also sold the Ore House Restaurant, LaQuinta and Quality Inn.

“After 24 years, we felt it was time to move on to other things and give someone else the opportunity to continue to provide downtown Steamboat Springs with quality lodging at a reasonable price,” Andy Van Baak wrote in a letter to employees after the sale. “Jack (Carlson) has impressed us with his energy and ideas, and we are excited to see the hotel continue to make the changes needed in today’s competitive lodging market.”

Carlson said many of those changes will start after the Steamboat Resort closes April 15. He said renovations to the floors, lobby, front desk area and an upstairs common area are expected to start the day after the closing. He is also hoping to start with a couple of rooms that will become prototypes, but he said renovation of other rooms may have to worked in after the hotel reopens.

“All of the changes we are talking about are cosmetic, aesthetic things,” Carlson said. “As it is, this is a great property, a great hotel. We just think we can take it to the next level in terms of raising the bar a little bit in terms of quality and making some improvements to the product.”

Carlson said the Bristol may be closed a little longer this shoulder season to accommodate the renovations, which will also include smart technological upgrades to meet the needs of guests in today’s modern world. However, Carlson expects the hotel to be open in time for the summer season.

The new owners want to keep much of the historic charm of the Bristol, but Carlson said they also want to give the property a fresh, new boutique feel that takes advantage of the hotel’s downtown location.

“We want it to be something special, in a special town,” Carlson said.

Carlson views downtown as an extension of the hotel with shopping, entertainment and great restaurants, including Mazzola’s Italian Restaurant, which is located downstairs in the same building, just a few steps away. It’s a big reason he and other investors bought the property.

“We want the hotel to be the hub for people who want to come to Steamboat and experience it,” Carlson said. “Given the size and scope of the hotel we don’t have some of the features you would expect in a five-star resort, like spa treatments and all those other things, but it’s all at our doorstep.”

The hotel also offers parking, but with a bus stop in front of the hotel offering guests easy access to the ski resort, Old Town Hot Springs and many other local attractions, there is little need for a car.

“I love Steamboat, and I think this is an incredible place and an incredible market to own an asset like this,” Carlson said.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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