Dec 11 2pm

The Stanley Hotel- a focal point of, and the object of affection for many visitors and residents. Alas, The Stanley is ground zero of what may become a modern day scary story, as the current hotel owner and the community of Estes Park have come to a face off about what's best for the land surrounding the century old hotel- which until last year belonged to the people of Estes Park. Today, Stanley Hotel owner John Cullen is within inches of owning the Lot 4 property forever, if he can just convince the Estes Park trustees to help him out a little bit.... To overlook an 'eentsy-weentsy problem' (Cullens words) that has to do with the height of the building currently under construction, and some other 'minor adjustments'. You see, he wants to change the use of the land from the premise of how the voters understood the deal when they elected to sell the property. It's complicated- but should we let the Town leaders make this decision for us? Maybe not, you see, because Mr Cullen has an elaborate system of old fashioned hospitality and food and pomp and circumstance that are too hard to resist for even the Mayor of Estes Park!

Here's a little story that a local resident shared after they visited the famous Stanley Hotel in October, as a regular old, tour fee paying customer- the proverbial 'fly on the wall':

"I took the tour of the Stanley Hotel and grounds yesterday, and one of the stops and the guide's talk just soured my stomach. We were at the top of, I think, the main staircase, where there are portraits and photographs of all the Stanley owners over the years.

The tourguide asked which was the photo of the current owner. When no one guessed the correct one, she said he is John Cullen, and he does not want his picture here. None of the men who owned the Stanley ever made a profit (although she had previously made the point that for F.O. Stanley, it was just a guesthouse for his rich East Coast friends, and not intended to be profitable).

She called all these men knuckleheads and said that Mr. Cullen had no intention of being lumped together with these knuckleheads. That personal arrogance and disregard for the heritage of Estes Park and those who contributed in lots of ways about sums up Mr. Cullen's apparent attitude. And seems not so different from our current Town administration.

We sat by the fireplace into the early evening, and I saw the Mayor and his wife come in dressed to the nines in evening wear, and lots of people I didn't know, and don't think I'd ever seen, except they were obviously wealthy.

About an hour later Town Administrator Frank Lancaster and his wife arrived. It looked like someone was getting an award, but I couldn't pick up on what was happening. But the affiliations no doubt cultivated between Mayor, Town Manager and Cullen are not to the benefit of the live-ability of the Town of Estes Park for most of its population.

As an aside, I just saw that Mary's Lake Lodge is listed on the Stanley website as one of the Grand Heritage holdings. That just caps off my whole feeling of disgust."

Of course, this could be an important night of recognition for some non profit community group or leader that has has given their life to improving Estes Park. How many of these events have taken place under Mr Cullens generous eye? Many, from the youngest kids to the oldest retirees- which is great. The problem may lie in the expectation by Mr Cullen that he be treated differently than the rest of us when he wants something, and that just happened. The Town Board suspended all other projects to fast track John Cullens variance request at the December Town Board meeting.

You might want to see how this plays out, residents of Estes Park. Those Board Members are working for you up in front of the crowd- lets see if they act like it?

May we offer a prediction? Next weeks meeting won't matter, if it even happens. Mr Cullen already has what he wants - his accommodation building is being built. The wellness center may never be built, even though the Hospital joined up with Cullen and captured the hearts of the Estes Park community when they sold 'it's all about wellness', and the voters bought it (it was never about the wellness center, folks). Now, it's up to the Trustees to protect the intent and interests of the voters, residents and visitors and make the best out of a (another) mess that they have gotten all of us into.

SHARE YOUR OPINION with the Town Trustees from our Contact Us page, or attend the SPECIAL MEETING called for Tuesday December 15th and 5:00pm (FIVE PM) at Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave. Everyone that would like to talk will have 3 minutes to share their opinion.

UPDATE 12/12/15

The Town announced yesterday that "the applicant has requested a continuation" and they have canceled the special meeting regarding The Stanley request for a variance scheduled for 12/15. Notably, the Town Planning Commission rejected the application on December 9th in a 4-1 vote.

Are you interested in contributing articles about The Stanley projects now underway? This is an important topic of conversation for the Estes Park community that is not being objectively reported on in local or regional media (in our never humble opinion). Please Contact Us at with a piece that you'd like to contribute. We're also interested in someone to manage this page of our site, which will include accepting and formatting contributions for publication here.