Woodland Park is getting a new hotel for the first time in 20 years.
The 62-room Microtel Inn and Suites, a brand of the Wyndham hotel empire, is slated to open in fall 2018. The three-story building will be north of the Country Lodge off U.S. 24 in Woodland Park.
The project's groundbreaking on Wednesday marked a major development for the mountain community, where officials are hoping to capitalize on the steady flow of travelers passing through the Pikes Peak region as the population along the Front Range rises and the state's tourism industry booms.
"This is an exciting moment for us," said developer Mark Rabaut of Purple Mountain Hospitality, LLC, as the ceremony began. Rabaut, who also owns the Country Lodge, is partnering with his son-in-law Ted Simms for the $6 million project.
Rabaut said he's seen the number of guests staying at his hotel inch upward in past summers, with a noticeable uptick when Charis Bible College opened about two miles away. The two-year ministry training college, founded by televangelist Andrew Wommack, holds annual events that draw large crowds.
The city has seen a steady increase in tourism in recent years, said Debbie Miller, president of the Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce. More people are filtering through the visitor's center, and revenue from the city's lodging tax, a 5.7 percent tax applied to a guest's bill in addition to sales tax, has risen over the past five years. Last year, the city garnered more than $147,000 from the lodging tax, up from about $91,000 in 2012, according to the finance department.
"We know that we've got a lot of traffic going through our community. This is going to help," Woodland Park Mayor Neil Levy said at the groundbreaking. "It will give people another place to stay and enjoy everything that we have to offer."
The city's planning department estimates that about 30,000 vehicles pass through Woodland Park on U.S. 24 every day. There are currently 101 rooms available in lodges, hotels and other accommodations within the city, according to the Chamber of Commerce.
The 60-room Country Lodge, built in 1997, is the town's largest facility, followed by Eagle Fire Lodge & Cabins, which has about 25 rooms.
"We are really at a disadvantage as far as hotel space goes," said Angie Brown, a Woodland Park resident of 16 years who attended the groundbreaking.
She said she hopes the Microtel will make the city more of a "destination community."
The new hotel will be about 30,000 square feet, complete with a fitness center.
Contact Rachel Riley: 636-0108