Rushed Travelers, Meet Otis

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The thing about traveling, especially when you do it as much as I do, is you tend to get so revved up about your actual destination and in such a hurry you sometimes miss out on things that should slow you down. That sort of “stop to smell the roses” deal everyone talks of.

After spending a glorious two weeks in Aspen, Colorado (one of my favorite cities on this planet), I jumped in a car with some friends and headed to Boulder. Unbeknownst to us, the trip that should have taken about 3 hours by car took an uncontrollable SEVEN hours. S-E-V-E-N.

Five people crammed into one little lime green Ford Focus stuck on I-70 east in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Luckily the scenic mountains were a gorgeous view to take in, which only eased the pain of traffic slightly.

Needless to say, by the time I arrived at my final destination, Hotel Boulderado, nestled in the heart of Boulder, I was ready to check into my room, throw my bag down and head to the bar for a glass of Chandon, which has become my traveling ritual over the last year or so. But there was a bit of a glitch, or at least what I thought was at the time: OTIS.

Hotel BoulderadoAlmost every hotel has at least one unique characteristic – something worth noting and sometimes worth writing about. “Otis” has been a part of the historic Boulderado Hotel since 1906 – three years before the hotel even opened its doors. Otis is the antique elevator that sits in the lobby and requires an attendant to take you from floor to floor, turning the lever either left or right making it go up or down. The other unique feature about Otis is that you cannot “recall” him once he’s gone from the lobby. Even if a guest knew how to maneuver Otis to his particular floor, someone has to drive Otis back, or else he just sits there. After each trip, the attendant returns Otis to his home on the lobby level to await his next guest.

It is rumored the Otis inside the Boulderado is the oldest still-operating Otis this side of the Mississippi River. It’s a mainstay in the hotel and the hotel goes to great lengths to ensure the livelihood of the antique charm so many guests have come to know and love. Many Otis’ have been retired because the parts and labor to restore such an old piece of machinery are expensive and difficult to maintain, but the brains behind the Boulderado realize the charisma the small vestibule brings to the building.

Over the years, Otis has carried some famous guests including Ethel Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Robert Frost (!!), Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Helen Keller.

I can personally vouch that if it weren’t for Otis, I probably would have rushed through my days in Boulder without really taking a moment to enjoy everything around me – the kind of stuff vacations are made of. Although the stairs were easily accessible for most of my trips to and from my suite on the fourth floor, Otis sat as a reminder to relax and take deep breaths each and everyday, and not to forget that life is meant to be enjoyed, not simply rushed through.

Be sure to follow @BoulderadoOtis and all his adventures on Twitter. Click here to read more about the history of the Boulderado. | 2115 Thirteenth Street, Boulder, CO 80302 | 303.442.4344

Jayme Lamm is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Houston focusing on travel writing and is in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side.