Attention to detail helped snag honor for Mining Exchange

RICH LADEN Updated: March 1, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: March 1, 2013

Perry Sanders Jr. is a high-profile attorney, not a hotel developer, although he’s dabbled in a few building renovations.

But when he launched an ambitious, multi-million dollar transformation of the downtown Mining Exchange Building into a boutique hotel, Sanders knew exactly what he wanted.

Borrowing ideas he had gleaned from hotels he visited around the world, Sanders set out to create an upscale Colorado Springs hotel that would rival existing, top-drawer properties with its amenities, ambiance and service.

The hotel’s 117 rooms and suites, for example, have 12-foot ceilings. Solid-core privacy doors create a separate sleeping area in each room so that late risers aren’t awakened by housekeepers vacuuming the hallway. Granite-topped desks are functional and decorative. Recording studio-quality walls keep noise from bouncing from one room to another.

In addition, the hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space, the Springs Orleans Restaurant, a lobby bar and a private courtyard.

“It’s a fabulously appointed hotel,” Sanders says proudly.

That attention to detail, along with other amenities and features, paid off in a big way.

Open since May, The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Grand Hotel recently was named a four-diamond winner by AAA, a rare feat for new properties, the travel service says.

The Mining Exchange joined The Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs and The Cliff House at Pikes Peak in Manitou Springs as four-diamond winners for 2013.

“To achieve it right away means this property just opened with everything we were looking for,” AAA Colorado spokeswoman Wave Dreher said.

The rating drew an approving nod from Broadmoor hotel president and CEO Steve Bartolin in Colorado Springs; The Broadmoor has been a five-diamond winner for all 37 years that AAA has conducted its ratings.

“That’s good for the community,” Bartolin said. “I was really pleased to see that. They did a nice job putting that hotel together.”

Dreher said AAA can’t discuss how or why specific properties receive their ratings. In general, she said, AAA has one inspector who oversees hotel and restaurant properties in Colorado.

That man or woman — AAA attempts to keep their identities a secret — shows up announced at properties that apply for inspection, she said.

To obtain a four-diamond rating, Dreher said properties must pass numerous tests — from the quality of soaps and shampoos in a room, to having the appropriate thread count in bedding, to whether window coverings adequately darken a room, to the quality of drinking glasses. Wi-fi and other amenities are expected; quality room service is a must; and personnel are expected to be friendly and helpful.

“It’s not just the front-desk person,” Dreher said, “it’s also the person you’ve passed in the hall that greets you by name.”

The Mining Exchange hotel, at 8 S. Nevada Ave., was created by gutting and renovating the Mining Exchange Building, which was opened in 1901 by mining baron Winfield Scott Stratton. The building originally housed the Colorado Springs Mining Exchange, a stock market where mining corporations shares were traded.

The building eventually became home to offices on its upper floors and retail uses — such as a bank — on the ground floor.

The Louisiana-born Sanders became familiar with Colorado Springs when he represented clients in property damage lawsuits against local employer Schlage Lock several years ago. His other clients have included the family of slain Los Angeles rapper Notorious B.I.G. and, more recently, Michael Jackson’s mother in legal matters following the singer’s death.

Sanders and an original partner bought the Mining Exchange Building in 2006; they also had converted the downtown Trestle Building in office condominiums. Sanders was later joined in the Mining Exchange project by other partners, but now is the building’s majority owner.

His original idea was to renovate the building into office condos and ground-floor retail, but he later proposed a high-end, boutique hotel. Sanders’ project included renovating the next-door Independence and Freeman Telegraph buildings on Pikes Peak Avenue — which house some of the hotel rooms — and the old Colorado Springs Utilities building just across an alley on Nevada.

Sanders said he’s now spent nearly $34 million on the renovation, including “several million dollars plus” of his own money.

Upcoming projects include the Gold Room, a 300-plus seat entertainment complex in the old Utilities building that will accommodate everything from conferences, to the taping of television programs, to comedy events; it’s scheduled to open in late May or early summer, Sanders said.

A 4,000-square-foot room for members of the private Mining Exchange Club will be attached to the Gold Room.

A spa will open in mid-summer in hotel’s basement. Office space, for use by guests, club members and the public, is also planned to open in mid-summer in the utilities building; a sky bridge that would connect the hotel to the utilities building remains on the drawing board.

Having a full-service, boutique hotel in the heart of downtown is a major plus for the area and helps the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau market the entire Pikes Peak region and its properties, said Chelsy Murphy, the CVB’s communications director.

“To have them get that four-diamond recognition out the gate is very exciting and something we certainly can push even more to meeting planners, conventions and leisure travelers,” Murphy said.

“We’re always selling the destination. We’re always selling all of our lodging properties. But a lot of people come to us and say, ‘what four- or five-diamond properties do you have?’ This just adds to the list.”

Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228 Twitter @richladen
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