Steamboat Springs Hahn’s Peak Inn owner Jeff Dolan only needed one word to sum up the biggest adjustment to life in North Routt County.
“Oxygen,” Dolan said earlier this month, sitting in the office of the inn he’s opened with Betty Happel and general manager Mike Gillotti on Routt County Road 129, across the parking lot from Hahn’s Peak Cafe.
The trio of Baltimore-area transplants opened the inn June 29 after searching the Web for bed and breakfasts while back East.
They deciding to take the plunge with the rustic-style building near Steamboat Lake.
“We wanted to do this for a while, then all of a sudden it became a reality,” Happel said.
The inn offers eight rooms, each for $150 a night, along with a hot tub, large common room and wraparound porch on the second floor that offers views of the lake.
Dolan said they’ll soon start serving breakfasts and lunches in a 40-seat dining area and plan to apply for a liquor license.
Despite the altitude adjustment, Dolan is no stranger to Colorado. He said he lived in Aspen in the 1970s and used to live in Glenwood Springs, as well, during a period of several moves from Colorado to the East Coast and back.
Dolan said he’s owned restaurants in the Baltimore area.
Gillotti said the two men are longtime veterans of the hospitality industry.
“Between the two of us, we’ve got 60 years of hotel and restaurant experience,” Gillotti said.
But the experience of North Routt is entirely new.
“We’re used to the mall, the city life,” Happel said. “We’re not used to the country life.”
Happel said the move has meant leaving family and friends on the East Coast — and a great deal of cleaning. Dolan said the inn opened briefly in 2007 but has essentially been closed since 2004, meaning it took some elbow grease to get it up and running.
A water sample test through the Routt County Environmental Health Department a week ago came back negative. The sample indicated the inn’s water system is good to go after the long closure.
Happel said they’ve met some of the staff at Steamboat Lake Outfitters and next door at Hahn’s Peak Cafe.
“People are really, really friendly,” Happel said.
Gillotti said he hopes the inn can become part of a North Routt community of businesses with a common goal.
“The more people we get up here, the better off we’re going to be,” Gillotti said.