Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 76: Baldpate’s Artwork – Key to the Past and Future

Artistic marketing, as we are so often told, is “key” to business success. We know from the earliest days, Baldpate used seven keys as a logo, and while the look has varied over the years, the key is always in there somewhere.

It is fun discovering some of the old stationery, cards and advertising that captured the evolution of our marketing.  Tag lines have gone from “Best cook in captivity,” to “Where Hospitality is King,” to “Like a mountain lodge of your own where you can go and do just as you please,” to “Enchanting travelers for over 100 years.”

Don’t know about you, but love our newest sketch of the main lodge, graciously given to us in 2007 by our guest, Nebraska artist, William Schlaebitz.

Artistic Christmas cards and letters were a great way to stay in touch with guests during the off season, both for the Maces and later for us. I recall going to the post office (since we do not have onsite mail delivery, we still have a PO Box) in early December one year, when the postmaster made a point to tell me of a loyal local guest who wanted to make certain Baldpate had her new address so as not to miss our Christmas card! Now our holiday greetings, specials and news updates are sent via emailed Keynotes newsletter

Historic Baldpate Inn Christmas cards

Perhaps its sort of sad to lose the staying power of printed brochures, but with the popularity of the internet, cost, and today’s means of instant information sharing, printed brochures have mostly gone the way of the past.

Baldpate Inn brochures

Chances are that generations to come won’t be learning about the past by sorting thru boxes of paper memorabilia, what do you think?

Written by Lois Smith

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 75: Summer in The Keys

Summer in the Keys, celebrating Summer Solstice, was one of our first promotions. As much as we love the traditional look of our dining room, sometimes it is just fun to change it up a bit, do a special focus and get a new t-shirt! 

If you ask a college student about summer, beer is going to enter the conversation somewhere! Since we serve Fat Tire and had a former employee working with New Belgium brewery (and especially appreciate their sustainability efforts), Fat Tire Friday was a natural fit for our promo celebrating summer.

Over the years we have had to stay even more creative depending on the actual day Summer Solstice falls. We have enjoyed such clever options as Travel Tuesday, Wine Spritzer Wednesday, Touring Thursday, Flipflop Friday, Sunglasses Saturday, and Sunday Sundae.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t smile to see a mini umbrella on their piece of pie?  Or a grass skirt on a bathtub?

So around Wednesday June 21, 2017, think of celebrating Summer in the Keys with us!

Written by Lois Smith

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 74: Baldpate Wood Saw (Arbor Day)

One of the most unique projects accomplished by our preservation partners, the American History Savers, was the salvage and restoration of The Baldpate Inn's antique wood saw. This was a special labor of love project headed by Steve Robb.  

The archive team first discovered the saw near the old garbage dump, half buried along with some old ovens & stoves and set out to discover its story. 

Diligent research identified Baldpate’s original wood saw as a 1921 Sattley hit and miss engine. It was a 7-1/2 horse power engine that was purchased from Montgomery Ward. It was built as a saw platform with a 30-inch saw blade.

This saw was used by the Mace family in the construction of the Baldpate buildings as they built each by hand from hand-hewed timber cut from the property.

Restored in 2010 for display by the American History Savers, our saw was moved to its current location near the Homestead

So although we no longer use this historic saw, having five massive fireplaces in just the main lodges as well as five more in the cabins and homestead creates a demand to keep up with firewood.

Over the years we have learned that to be good stewards of the forest, a balance is required between cutting for our use, our wildfire mitigation work - most recently last fall by our friends at Summit Forestry, and maintaining the right blend of trees for our local wildlife.

The aspen and variety of pine trees surrounding The Baldpate Inn have always been part of what makes it so special, and we are pleased to wish you all a very happy Arbor Day today.  

Written by Lois Smith

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Day 73: Prom at Baldpate? At least twice!

My staff always rolls their eyes when I share “Life Lessons from Lois” ~ like unless you want glitter forever, don’t have Prom at your house. In 1995, for my son MacKenzie’s junior year, we agreed to host the Estes Park High School Prom at the Inn. Now put aside the fact that we don’t normally open until the end of May, an April prom is a challenge on several counts, the weather being a huge one!  That year, we had lots of late snow and so just getting into the building was a challenge. I remember hooking a hose to the hot water tanks to help melt the three foot stack of snow and ice blocking the drive thru under the porch!

Then of course since we needed an inside dance floor, we removed all the tables from the dining rooms (have no clue where we actually put them) and decorating commenced. It was quite the transformation!  Evidently it went well, according to this Mountaineer story

An extra special guest to the 1995 Prom was our Estes Park Mayor at the time, Bernie Dannel and his wife. What a fun discovery had been made, that 55 years prior, his 1940 Estes Park High School Prom (then called Junior Senior Banquet) had been held at Baldpate Inn!
1940 Invitation

I especially love the invite, with time for “shagging” after the dinner and program. The class roll lists read like an Estes Park who’s who from days gone by.

Don’t you wish I’d asked Mayor Dannel if he had a copy of his speech, “Reflections of The Deep?”

So actually I guess I don’t really know, was the glitter you occasionally notice on the Baldpate’s Dining Room floor from 1995 or 1940?

Written by Lois Smith

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 72: Fire & Flood

Baldpate has been blessed so many times. You have already learned about our Flood Disaster in 2013, but did you know it wasn’t the first time a flood threatened our area?

According to this Estes Park Trail news story, back in 1951 Lily Lake flooded. Although destroying Highway 7 just at our entrance, it thankfully passed by Baldpate’s buildings without damages.

No doubt the Fire Tower on Twin Sisters Mountain built in 1914 served its safety duty over many years, spotting wildland fires before they became a danger. While no longer there, we appreciate having Rocky Mountain National Park as a monitoring neighbor today.

In Baldpate’s history, we know of two fires which could have been significant but were not. During the 1980s update of the Main Lodge, there was a small fire in the Library, which was evidenced by burned out flooring that we found when redoing shelving in the library.

With wildfires in our area during 2012, Baldpate had been on evacuation alert. During the fall of 2014, just a year after our big flood, we experienced for ourselves the trauma of an unexpected fire. Thankfully our emergency experiences had taught us the value of prayer and calm in the face of emergency.

Just at our night shift change, our very observant hotel manager, Andy, noted a lot unexplained smoke in our Sun Porch Dining Room. Investigation brought us to our basement, with the awful realization that the entire crawlspace was filled with smoke so dense you couldn’t even begin to see. There must be fire somewhere!  

The 911 call was made and our staff sprang into action, waking our guests quickly and getting them safely out of the building (thankfully a cool but not freezing fall evening).

Mackenzie happened to be working in Estes Park at Scots Fest so he was the second phone call and arrived sooner than he should have, to turn off our propane and begin the search for the source of the smoke.  

Our Allenspark Fire Dept arrived shortly, along with Estes Park Emergency Medical Team and Larimer County Sheriff support. These teams spent hours searching to finally discover the illusive smoldering embers under a water boiler. They were thoughtful and caring toward each of our displaced guests and staff. 

To this day our most heartfelt thanks goes to these men and women who serve with such compassion and professionalism, all hours day or night!

Appreciative recognition must also go to our special B&B guests that night who patiently adapted to our emergency situation with extreme graciousness. “Adventures to add to our diaries,” they positively responded! 

While hard to imagine that night, or even in the months to follow of vast paperwork details of getting insurance help, the long term blessing is that today, the water boiler is replaced and the flooring upgraded to concrete. All this makes us safer than ever before.

Written by Lois Smith

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 71: Christmas in July at The Baldpate Inn

What is more fun than decorating for Christmas? Since we are closed during the winter, we didn’t want to miss out, hence Christmas in July! Noting this 1922 news story, our recent promo is not a new idea.

Our dining promotions have always been sort of a marketing idea, but intended as fun for the staff as well. An initial aspect of our Christmas in July celebration was our behind the scenes staff competition (who can sell the most gift shop items). When our cooks commented that they really couldn’t compete, we brainstormed how to get them involved.  Competition for specially decorated Christmas cookies for our B&B guests' nightly snacks was the first plan.

Somewhere along the way we decided on an even better idea ~ Gingerbread Houses!  With a cook or manager heading each team, the competition took on a whole new level.  Not to be left out, we decided our guests could be the judges to join in the fun. (Our resident Santa seemed perhaps a little biased!)

Our cooks are responsible for the basic shape, then only imagination is the limit! 

Yes, we have added some basic rules over the years, to limit size and edible-ness, along with, "Don’t eat the gummi bears off your opponent’s house."

Team bonding happens for sure, but also it has been a fun culture-sharing event especially for our international staff.

Of course the winning team loves the special bragging honors!

Written by Lois Smith

Monday, April 24, 2017

Day 70: Enchanted Autumn Gold

Autumn is such a gorgeous time at Baldpate, with the aspens sparkling and often cooler weather demanding that comfy bowl of soup and some warm muffins. 

Perfect time for a food focus, so for our Enchanted Autumn Gold celebration, we decided to go all out with three days of immersion for your favorite fall flavors: Pumpkin Passion, Corn Crazy and Awesome Apple Days!

Think Apple Soup, Apple Salad, Apple Muffins, and Apple Pie, or a day with Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin muffins, Pumpkin Pie, or guest favorites of Corn chowder, Cornbread, okay no corn pie, but how about candy corn?

Naturally, our special recipe Hot Buttered Rum or some Minted Hot Chocolate are the perfect accompanying beverage for enjoying the views of this golden season or just taking the chill off as you relax by the lobby fire.

Come see us this fall!
Written by Lois Smith 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Day 69: New Recipes

Having an award-winning restaurant doesn’t mean you can just relax with your menu offerings. There are always new ideas being suggested either by guests, or food trends, or a popular new ingredient.

As the primary chef, I’ve tried hard to be unique and original. Being known as the “best of” is always fun, but it is especially nice to be “one of a kind” as well.  So when developing our menu items I’ve tried to not copy other places, especially in Estes Park, but to have our own branded items.

We have to admit as well, our menu gets a little too familiar to our staff by the end of the season (especially since we eat it twice a day every day).  We do get a laugh at the concoctions that diners and staff come up with, adding this to that from the Salad Bar or mixing soups or whatever!

Fall seems to be our most experimental season for new recipes.  We’ve had some huge winners, think Banana Butterscotch Muffins, and some long forgotten sincere losers, like Baseball Park Muffin with pickle relish and hot dogs.

You know how things sometimes just stick in your mind, well that pickle relish did, and so be on the lookout for our new 2017 Dill Pickle soup….. working on a name, but so far, family reviews are positive!

Wish I’d kept a diary of our new menu items as they were created! We started with just Beef Stew and Red Chili as our hearty soups, then my sister-in-law, Loretta, gave me the idea for our White Chili recipe. I must admit I hesitated trying it, but when we added it to our menu in 1991, customers greeted it with lots of odd looks and ridiculously silly comments, along with some rave reviews.

Being located in the mountains we often received requests for “wild game” so our Cowboy Buffalo Stew became our answer in 2005. The “wild west trail drive” flavors (simple ingredients you might find along the trail), made this an instant favorite.  Its name has a special double meaning too, as the year we perfected this recipe, several of our cooks were “Cowboys” students from Oklahoma State University.

Then there is our beloved Pumpkin Curry Soup, recipe yet unpublished, which is based on one that Jen sent me. She discovered it during her time stationed in Germany in the US military.  Several years after we added the recipe, as I was telling guests the recipe was originally from Germany, she told me the full story. The recipe wasn’t from one of our favorite little German pubs as I had thought, but she had actually found the idea on the side of a canned product she had purchased in the US Army commissary!  So much for my proud story of its German culinary ties. 

Although the “German” pumpkin one isn’t there, you can find many of our classic recipes in our famed cookbook, Collections of Baldpate

What have been your most favorite Baldpate recipes? Anything you’d like to see us add?

Written by Lois Smith

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Day 68: Earth Day Recycling at The Baldpate Inn

Unless you have been in this situation, it is sort of hard to imagine how much trash, cardboard and leftovers a business can generate.

We have striven to be earth friendly as best we can with the added challenges of being a bit remote in a mountain community.  We’ve tried some novel things, had some successes and some failures.

Even back in the 1990s we earned an EPA award for our efforts in recycling. Still now, even though the staff would say it is not their most favorite task, but we do make at least weekly trips to the Estes Park recycle center to donate our cardboard and tin cans. 

With so much ‘good’ produce scrap, (think lettuce leaves and carrot peelings)  for a couple of years, we worked with a local family contributing to their compost, but eventually it became too much for them to continue.

Our local bear family would of course be delighted to help whenever they can. However, knowing the pitfalls of feeding wildlife, we have diligently taken their best interest to heart and spent lots of time discouraging them from investigating our bins.  At first, just having motion lighting worked. But we have really smart bears, so additional deterrents were needed. Grandpa Sam came up with the electric fence solution around our dumpsters, which is still effectively in place today. 

 This “shocking” system works great if you remember to turn it on and off, a fact that could be confirmed by more than one staff member. (Honestly, we do try to remember to warn new staff members to turn it off before they touch the dumpsters.)

Since we are so insistent about the hot, out-of-the-oven freshness of our baked goods, we needed some solutions here as well. Leftover pies and cinnamon rolls do not seem to be a problem, as the staff would happily concur. But try as we may, baking just the correct amount of muffins can be a daunting challenge. At the end of the day, our local foodbank, Crossroads Ministry, has been our saving grace for this surplus. We are happy to share and pleased to know that our lovingly-made food is going to an excellent cause. 

Written by Lois Smith

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 67: Baldpate Inn Special Guest Interview

With 100 years of history, the number of guest memories surrounding The Baldpate Inn is astronomical! 

Today, we would like to honor a special guest, Marguerite, who first started visiting the Baldpate Inn in 1945. Marguerite sat down with one of our curators, Lauren, to share her memories of this magical place in 2012. 

Each summer, Marguerite would make a special point to visit The Baldpate Inn during her stay in Estes Park. “It was a highlight to come up here! A highlight.” she warmly remembers.  
In the early years, she remembers that the road to the Baldpate was gravel, and much narrower. In portions, it was only one way with pullouts, and it took much longer to get up to the Inn from town. 

With 67 seasons of visits, what keeps her coming back? There are many reasons for her, but especially because, “The uniqueness of the Baldpate is just so charming.” 

The Key Room always held a great fascination for Marguerite and her husband. They have also enjoyed many special memories dining and lodging at the Inn. Over the years, Marguerite and her family brought many of their own guests to experience The Baldpate Inn. 

The employees of the Baldpate made a strong impression on her, always kind and enthusiastic. She’s not the first to tell us, “Baldpate is like family!”

When we asked Marguerite whether there was anything she would have like to tell us and future generations, she stated that she, "Wishes places like these would stick around, regardless of advances in technology. People need to experience things like this and technology can’t do that in the same way."

Thank you, Marguerite, for sharing your story with us! It’s been a delight knowing how much The Baldpate Inn has impacted your life! 

What Baldpate memories do you have? Please share with us, by commenting on this blog, or emailing
Written by Liz Rodgers

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day 66: Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival Guest Invitation

One of the most popular attractions in the Estes Park area is the Longs Peak Scottish Irish Highland Festival.  The festival is infused with colorful world class athletes, competing in jousting, caber-throwing, and more. It is quite a sensory experience with bagpipes and drumming, Highland and Irish dancing, as well as Folk music and Celtic rock. 

Photo credit
We have been honored over the years to have many Highland games families stay and dine with us. For some of our staff and guests it has been a unique new experience to actually witness men in kilts or the sound of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace” before breakfast. 

Now, crazy as it seems, we don’t seem to have any sort of a key to bagpipes in our Key Collection. (Have one you’d like to donate? Please do!) 

We do have several keys with Scottish and Irish connections. Our collection includes the key to the Captain’s quarters of the four-masted “Star of Scotland” sailing ship built in 1887, which was operational until it was sunk by a German U-boat in 1942.  

As well, you can find the key to the Limerick Castle Stables in Ireland. And in 2013, we were most honored to receive the Adare Castle Key, from Adare Ireland, presented to us by the Countess of Dunraven after her visit to Estes Park.

The festival this year is September 7-10, 2017. The town packs out so make your Baldpate Inn B&B Lodging reservations now, and Dining Reservations after May 1st. You’ll be able to enjoy the festivities in town and then retire to a mostly quiet retreat and excellent dining to refresh yourself.

The Baldpate Inn surrounded in fall splendor

Until then, Slàinte mhòr agus a h-uile beannachd duibh, which means, “Great health and every good blessing to you!” 

Written by Lois Smith and Liz Rodgers