New ownership transforming historic Buffalo Lodge into 'bicycle resort'
As plans by the new ownership of the historic Buffalo Lodge move forward, that image might not be so far-fetched.
The business' Guest Directory describes a past in which the U.S. President - who came to this area multiple times - may have stayed at the lodge.
In the present, new owner/manager Torie Giffin speaks enthusiastically about the venerable, four-acre, 47-unit motel's future as a “bicycle resort.”
The location is 2 El Paso Blvd., just east of the Manitou Springs city limits, next to a horse-riding stables and downhill from the Garden of the Gods. The property includes a long motor court, a swimming pool, a gazebo and plenty of open areas.
“We want to restore the lodge to its original glory days,” said Giffin, who took over management in June. This work includes upgrading the property and remodeling units. But the big emphasis is on cycling - a long-time avocation of hers.
During the previous six years, as the marketing lead for the Garden of the Gods Road Chick-Fil-A restaurant,
Giffin is already developing the Buffalo Lodge's new identity, holding a “bike-and-blues” barbeque in early October, organizing a “Chasing Santa” 15K ride this Dec. 3, promoting the lodge to the growing trend of bicycle tourism and brainstorming ways to make it a go-to site year-round.
For motel guests, bikes are available for kids to ride around the property; people can also rent e-bikes (which have electric motors if pedaling gets too hard). And, guests can join scheduled rides to and from the lodge Tuesdays and Saturdays.
According to Giffin, she first became aware of the Buffalo Lodge a decade ago when her bicycle got a flat tire as she rode by. About a year ago, the idea came to her for a “hotel that would cater to cyclists.” So she approached the Buffalo's
She's been pursuing the dream ever since. For the purchase, she gained the support of her family - husband Nathan; daughter Delanie, 15; sons Levi, 12, and Daniel, 9; and her mother Nancy, who became a part owner. Other investors are “good friends and fellow cyclists Ken and Kris Hubbard,” Giffin said.
However, she freely admits, buying the lodge didn't leave very deep pockets to fund facility upgrades. Renovations are “inching along, one room at a time,” she said, with the third nearing readiness this fall. Giffin is exploring fundraising options, including crowd-funding.
In the meantime, there is at least an income stream, because the lodge is operational - offering units of various sizes, including kitchenettes - and Giffin reported that she was nearly sold out during the summer.
As for Teddy Roosevelt and the Buffalo Lodge, shrouds of mystery persist. The Guest Directory states that the story of his visits "has been told and repeated many times." Unfortunately, the story lacks photos, letters or other proof. Regarding the Buffalo, Giffin's research has found real-estate documents saying that it opened in 1931, while a library source says 1929. But she's also come across a "rumor that it started as a hunting lodge in 1919." The latter date would be just early enough for Roosevelt, who passed on that same year. So... maybe?
In any event, based on the bespectacled president's vigorous life - including big-game hunting, bringing fugitives to justice, leading a charge in the Spanish-American War and exploring branches of the Amazon River - who could doubt that if he were here today, he wouldn't say “bully” to a Buffalo Lodge bicycle ride?
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