Tally’s make a dream come true
When most people reach their 70s, they’re ready to wind down and retire, but Richard and Jean Tally feel like they’re just getting started. The Tallys, both 73, have spent the past five years making their dream of owning an agricultural-based hotel business come true.
“This was our mutual dream,” said Jean, while sipping coffee inside the Wine Country Inn in Palisade. “To bring it from concept to fruition was a lot of work.”
The design for the traditional style hotel, located just off Interstate 70 and surrounded by acres of grapevines, is the result of many trips to northern California, Italy and France. The Tallys stayed at numerous establishments, some well-known, some off the beaten path, in an effort to glean the best ideas for their own hotel.
“We were like sponges and we documented everything,” Jean said as she walked the halls of the main building, pointing out some of her favorite characteristics of the hotel. “We took the good ideas and superimposed them on the ideas that we knew worked,” she said.
The idea to build a hotel in Palisade was suggested to the Tallys 14 years ago by personal friend, Stephen Smith, owner of Grande River Vineyard, which is located on property adjacent to the hotel.
“He said we should really consider opening a hotel or motel near his winery,” Jean said. “He had a broader vision about what the wine industry could be in Palisade.”
The Tallys were relatively new to the hotel business. Richard had retired as a medical implant salesman in Houston. They were living in Vail when they began looking for investment property in Grand Junction.
“We weren’t even thinking about buying a hotel,” Richard said. However, the Quality Inn on Horizon Drive was for sale and seemed like a good deal.
“Richard has a real magic touch for turning around a business that hasn’t reached its full potential yet,” Jean said, adding it didn’t take them long to learn the hospitality industry.
But, building a new hotel in wine country wasn’t that easy.
It took over a decade for the Tallys to find land to purchase, create a final hotel design, and build the support they needed from the Palisade community.
Smith parceled his land and sold it at auction in October 2006. The Tallys were able to win the 4.7-acre piece, which already was zoned for business.
Building the hotel was “very complicated,” Richard said.
They hired a Denver architect, Jim Johnson, to take the plethora of ideas the Tallys had collected over the years and turn it into something that fit the “look” of Palisade.
“We felt very strong that whatever we did, it should fit into the style of the town,” Jean said.
Johnson created a farm-style complex with a Victorian gable and wrap-around porches. There is a main house, which includes the lobby, bar and restaurant. The adjacent L-shaped hotel rooms surround a center courtyard with a pool, gazebo and common area. Another building has suites and reception rooms.
Inside, the halls are lined with historic black-and-white photographs of Palisade provided by the Museum of Western Colorado and comfortable, traditional furniture.
“It was important to us that people get a sense of a welcoming atmosphere,” Jean said, “We want them to feel like they are visiting our home.”
The entire property is surrounded by grapevines, which are used to make the Tallysº’ own label wines: Ten Acre Farm Red and White, a Merlot and a chardonnay. The wine is produced by Grande River Winery.
There is a daily wine reception available to guests.
“We’ve had to learn all about the entire wine industry,” Richard said.
The hotel opened just as the economy started to fade, but the Tallys have been optimistic that the hotel and surrounding wineries in Palisade will make a name for themselves yet.
“I’m just a cockeyed optimist,” Jean said, “And I think it’s our patriotic duty to support the whole community, and the wine industry in particular.”
The Tallys serve on a number of community organizations to help boost tourism and support agriculture in the valley.
They have a vested interest in seeing not only their business but all of the businesses in Palisade succeed.
“This is our legacy,” Jean said. “We want our children to be able to continue what we started here.”
That is what makes the Tallys a stand-out couple in Palisade.
“For us, it’s very personal,” Jean said.