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A night at The Curtis

Alex MillerVail, CO Colorado
Special the Daily/Ron Ruscio
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As downtown Denver continues to get more interesting and upscale, so, too, have the hotels in the area. One example is the transmogrification of the staid Executive Tower Hotel into The Curtis – a place so intent on being “fun” that it’s hard not to admire the attempt even when things fall short left and right. One thing you can’t take away from The Curtis is its great location: Right on Curtis Street just steps away from the Denver Center and the 16th Street Mall. It’s also a decent value compared to other hotels in the area. The rest, it’s probably fair to say, is still a work in progress. The pool and athletic facility are still under construction, with plans to open later this year. Two planned restaurants and a Starbucks aren’t open yet, either, although there is room service. Parking is a stunning $24 by valet or $18 DIY – and good luck finding your way out of the parking garage and through the labyrinth of elevators to the lobby. (I’d have traded any 10 pieces of pop art for a hand-lettered sign pointing the way to the front desk.)What The Curtis does have is 336 guest rooms on 16 floors, each of which is imbued with a pop culture theme. We stayed on the “Chick Flick” floor, which meant that outside the elevator there was a large cut-out of the “Charlie’s Angels” logo and a couple of movie posters on the hallway walls (“Sleepless in Seattle,” “Moonstruck,” etc.). Inside the room, though, the theme stopped cold, leaving us to wonder if the theme-ification were still in progress or if this is all there will be. (And by the way, “Charlie’s Angels” is not a chick flick.)Other floors include the “Sci-Fi,” which allows pets; the “Dun-Dunn-Dunn” 13th floor featuring the likes of Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”; and the “One Hit Wonder” floor, reminding us of the Pet Rock and the Edsel – not to mention songs we thought we’d never have to endure again.

The folks behind The Curtis (Sage Hospitality) no doubt had to make a decision on whether to make it a full-on theme park or merely a series of thematic suggestions. While I don’t know that we needed wax statues of Meg Ryan or John Cusack in the room, the sense of let-down was palpable between my wife and me: Is this it?The disappointment was even greater when the first room we checked into smelled strongly of musty carpet and whose couch reminded me of a seat lifted from an old Dodge Dart. The staff happily got us into another room which, although still possessed of a stiff chair and a thoroughly unyielding bed, was a definite olfactory improvement.Each room does have a wide, flat-screen TV and a decent lineup of channels (including Showtime). The Curtis has an extremely friendly staff who work hard, it seems, to keep the atmosphere upbeat and sort of faux-wacky. But there’s no disguising the fact that this is an older hotel with thin walls that reveal much of the goings-on. We were kept up half the night by partying 20-somethings down the hall, not to mention the ice-maker.All the fun posters and pop tchotchkes in the world can’t disguise the fact that this is a loud hotel, probably best patronized by those planning to stay on the town past 2 than guests hoping for a relaxing night in. Even so, I look forward to checking back in a year or two to see if The Curtis evolves to live up to its promise of an “experience unlike any other.”

===========If you go:The Curtis Hotel, 1405 Curtis St., Denver303-571-0300



http://www.thecurtis.comRooms: From $139/night===========


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