Same views, new attitude, amenities at Vega Lodge
COLLBRAN — The sweeping views afforded by the floor-to-ceiling windows at Vega Lodge remain the same: The sun glinting off the aspens interspersed among the pine trees, the occasional moose lumbering through the meadow, the fishermen dipping their lines into Vega Reservoir in hopes of snaring a rainbow trout.
Just about everything else at this 50-plus-year-old lodge, though, has changed.
Gone are the buffalo, wild boar, armadillo and other wildlife stuffed and mounted on the walls, the worn carpet, the outdated furnishings. The 4,500-square-foot lodge has received a top-to-bottom makeover, thanks to new owners Glenn and Pat Stoll, recent retirees who often found themselves wishing someone would buy the lodge while recreating in the area the last few years, only to decide to take the plunge themselves.
The Stolls purchased the lodge in December, opened it in March and will host a barbecue Memorial Day weekend and live music Saturday and Sunday. Previously shuttered from November through May, the lodge is now open year-round.
“Our kids are like, ‘What are you doing? What are you thinking? You’re supposed to be retired,’ ” Pat said.
What they Stolls were thinking was that visitors to the north side of Grand Mesa could use a place where they could get a good meal and camp, snowmobile, four-wheel, ride horses or just relax at 8,000 feet.
The couple moved to Collbran from Iowa in 2006 after Glenn sold his commodities trading business. They owned property in Cimarron, near Gunnison, and planned to build a log home there but shifted their attention to Vega Lodge, which had been for sale for three years.
Faithful patrons of the A-frame perched on the hill north of the reservoir may not recognize it now. Having undergone five months’ worth of construction, it bears little resemblance to its former self.
The Stolls installed new plumbing, electrical and heating systems. The kitchen, bathrooms and offices are remodeled, and there are new double-pane windows and flooring throughout the lodge. The dining room is highlighted by a new bar chiseled from beetle-kill pine. Once the late-spring snow melts, diners will be able to sip a glass of Palisade wine on an outdoor patio. The lodge soon will feature a convenience store, a gift shop selling T-shirts and hats, and a bait and tackle shop.
All 12 on-site cabins are undergoing their own refurbishing. Several should be completed by Memorial Day, with the balance to be finished by the Fourth of July.
The Stolls hired Dave Shedletsky, a Denver chef, to invigorate the lodge’s culinary lineup. The result is a menu featuring items like elk medallions, prime rib, salmon and ribeye steak sandwiches.
The lodge is developing a growing following of Plateau Valley residents who don’t want to make the hour drive into the Grand Valley for dinner. Pat likes Chef Dave’s food so much she’s stopped cooking.
“I wanted someplace good to eat, and I had to buy a restaurant and hire a chef,” Pat said.
In addition to beefing up the menu, the Stolls will expand activities at the lodge. They plan to build a horse corral and rent all-terrain vehicles and boats. A full-service recreational vehicle campground also is available. A couple of summer weddings are already booked.
“We were thinking, ‘This might be fun,’ ” Glenn said of owning a mountain lodge. “And it has been.”