If it’s “extras” you want when you visit Rocky Mountain National Park, set your GPS for The Stanley Hotel. A fabulous hotel in its own right, the stately Stanley (on the National Register of Historic Places) may give you the creeps or just the relaxing time of your life. And if you’re checking off the Top 10 Haunted Hotels in America on your must-see bucket list, The Stanley ranks right up there with the spookiest by Travel Channel, Travel and Leisure, USA Today, and TripAdvisor. Any way you look at it, a visit to The Stanley has “extra” written all over it.
After suffering from tuberculosis and being advised by his doctor to come the Estes Park area to rest during summer of 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley, co-inventor of the Stanley automobile, and his wife Flora fell in love with the area and invested in land on which they built The Stanley Hotel.
But today, the 140-room historic hotel is thought to be haunted. Kitchen staff have reported hearing voices in various ballrooms, only to enter and find them empty. Some claim they hear Flora, F. O.’s wife, playing the piano, but find no one when they enter the room. Others claim they’ve heard children running up and down the halls, giggling and laughing. (An example of children being heard but not seen, we guess!) And how would you like to return to your room with this “extra” experience — your clothes have been unpacked and put into drawers or your jewelry has been “misplaced”? (Both reported, but not verified. It’s “extra,” you see.)
Some of the creepiness stems from this story: the chief housekeeper, Ms. Elizabeth Wilson, on the night of June 25, 1911, was “shot down” while lighting the acetylene lanterns during a power outage. After a terrible explosion, she fell from what is now Room 217 to one story below, the floor of the MacGregor Room. Some accounts relate that those who stay in Room 217 often have “extra” experiences in the form of additional housekeeping services — wanted or unwanted, we suppose. (See above!)
But just a casual roaming of this historic property is a delight. From the lobby with its original wood trim and casual, intimate seating areas . . .
to the displays of vintage Stanley automobiles in pristine condition. All exude luxury, history, nostalgia.
Stephen King found time to partake of the charms of The Stanley — a visit that inspired the writing of his novel, The Shining in which The Stanley became the “Overlook Hotel.” Later, the ABC mini-series, The Shining, was filmed on location.
But other ventures have used The Stanley as a backdrop, too. Featured on Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters, The Stanley has been showcased often as one of the most haunted hotels in America. But it also became the site of lighter and funnier fare– like the movie Dumb and Dumber (1994) — when the hotel was known as “Hotel Danbury.”
It’s the “hauntedness” that draws people in. They want to see the rooms, imagine the piano playing unattended, and walk through shadowy halls where housekeepers roam delivering little “extras” folks have heard about. And why not? Real or otherwise, the “hauntedness” is what we travel to see.
However, if you’re looking for an “extra” experience in any form — creepy tours or luxury relaxation — check out The Stanley Hotel. What’s creepy for some might be “just another special vacation” in Colorado for you! And us? Why, of course, we could stay there. Of course we could. All night, possibly. Just not in Room 217!
For more information:
The Stanley Hotel: 333 Wonder View Avenue, Estes Park, Colorado; 1-800-976-1377; www.stanleyhotel.com
Tours at The Stanley Hotel: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/tours/night-ghost-tours
Wikipedia: The Stanley Hotel: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stanley_Hotel