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Many hotels not high on legalized pot

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But Cliff House in Morrison welcomes all stoners

By Deb Hurley Brobst

When it comes to legalized marijuana in Colorado, one area lodging establishment considers it a blessing, while another considers it a curse. For several others, it’s not an issue at all.

The Cliff House Lodge in Morrison still bans tobacco smoking in its cottages, but there’s no problem for marijuana smokers. In contrast, the Comfort Suites at El Rancho doesn’t allow smoking of any kind in its rooms, and it’s fining a fair number of violators since smoking recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado on Jan. 1.

Bears Inn in Marshdale and the Brook Forest Inn and Highland Haven in Evergreen said they have had no requests from patrons to be allowed to smoke marijuana, so it’s not an issue.

A booming business

Angela Bernhardt, who along with her husband, Daniel, operates the Cliff House Lodge, said the marijuana smell can be aired out of rooms relatively quickly because the smoke doesn’t linger. Tobacco, she said, is another story: It takes forever to air out.

She said the lodge’s leniency on smoking pot has brought a lot of publicity and more business. In fact, the lodge’s gross income so far this month outstrips its January 2013 gross income.

“This has worked out fabulously for me,” Bernhardt said. “We’re looking forward to this year. It’s a booming business.”

The Cliff House Lodge is one of a few lodging establishments in downtown Morrison, and its proximity to Red Rocks Amphitheatre makes it a prime location for marijuana smokers, she said.

Bernhardt said that if business continues to increase, she would consider creating a club in the basement.

“I would consider it,” she said. “A lot of things will be changing. We will see how it all works out.”

A negative change

“We have been having a lot of problems, as we knew that we would,” Comfort Suites general manager Kathy Krysiak said of patrons bringing marijuana into their rooms. “We’re all in for a bit of a battle with this. We have zero tolerance for pot smoking and zero tolerance for people smoking cigarettes in our rooms.”

Those who smoke pot in their rooms are subject to a $150 fine for cleaning, and she says the hotel has been fining one to two customers a day, even more at the beginning of January.

“The pot smells so strong these days even without smoking it; they may just bring it in, and you can’t differentiate if they’ve been smoking or just had it there,” she said.

She said hotels will struggle with marijuana smokers because they’re coming from out of state to buy the product, so they are staying in hotels. The Comfort Suites is a family-oriented hotel, and she’s concerned about keeping it that way.

Her advice for pot smokers who stay at her hotel: “If you have to smoke pot, take a walk or do it in your car.”

Contact Deb Hurley Brobst at deb@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1041. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.