New owner spruces up Evergreen Lodge
• Flat-screen TVs everywhere.
• New bedding and art in guest rooms.
• Upgrades to the Altitude bar/restaurant.
• Upgraded wi-fi throughout the hotel.
VAIL — When Peter Knobel took over the Evergreen Lodge last year, he knew there was a lot of work to do on the old hotel. Now, though, the place is as modern as a 1970s-vintage hotel can be.
The first thing to go were the TVs. In an era when flat screens are ubiquitous, there wasn’t one to be found in the Evergreen, from the guest rooms to the Altitude bar and restaurant. The bedding was old, as was the art on the walls. All that has changed during the past few months. The Wi-Fi has been upgraded, and even the light bulbs in the rooms and public areas have been upgraded to energy-efficient LED bulbs. For longtime visitors, the effect is familiar, yet better.
Even Altitude has changed its feel somewhat, with standard-height tables replacing the old barstool-height tables, making the place more comfortable for families with kids. Of course, with 20-some new flat screen TVs, it remains a good place to share a pitcher while watching a game.
“You don’t have to go out for a meal if you don’t want to. You can just stay here,” said Craig Cohn, who manages Knobel’s business in Vail.
Cohn said that while the Evergreen stands alone in its price point on the south side of Interstate 70 in Vail, the property still needed to provide good value for guests.
“We’re not rebuilding, but modernizing,” Cohn said.
That modernization had to come while maintaining the Evergreen’s niche in Vail. And, in fact, there’s nothing like the old hotel, which is an easy walk to either Vail Village or Lionshead, but is priced far below the newer lodges in the neighborhood.
Knobel said he hopes the refreshed Evergreen can be part of something he calls Vail’s “town center.” That area, between Vail Village and Lionshead, is home to the town hall, a soon-to-be-revamped medical center, the Four Seasons hotel and more. It’s an area Knobel believes has a lot of untapped potential. And, at least for the foreseeable future, the Evergreen will be part of it. That’s why the upgrades came quickly.
Evergreen general manager Brian Butts said one of the first steps came with the bedding — all of which is now brilliant white. The new bedding brightens up the rooms, Butts said, and also helps assure guests the place is clean — it’s hard to fake white.
“We went to the same level of bedding you see in the Four Seasons and The Sebastian,” Knobel said.
With the upgrades ranging from the top floor to the parking garage, Knobel said one thing hasn’t changed — the hotel’s approach to value.
For those who want to stay near the slopes and resort villages, room rates at the Evergreen are the best in Vail, Cohn said. And the property still has free parking for guests.
In addition to the interior upgrades, the new owners have improved the landscaping outside and repaired the hotel’s swimming pool/hot tub areas.
The idea of the Evergreen is to make Vail more accessible to more people, especially in the summers and for special events, Cohn said.
“We’re the affordable hotel for people holding weddings at the Four Seasons,” Cohn said. “Not everyone can afford to stay at the Four Seasons. We fill an important niche.”
The hotel has also upgraded its own group space, since it’s also an affordable place for groups that come for events such as the America Cup fly-fishing championships.
While the Evergreen will remain in its current state for the foreseeable future, the fact remains that the old hotel sits on roughly 2.6 acres of increasingly valuable real estate. Knobel doesn’t like to talk about future plans for the property and says he really doesn’t have any at the moment.
Until those plans firm up, Evergreen has become a nicer place to stay, near the heart of everything going on in Vail.