The walls in the front lobby are lined with books, artifacts and a cozy fireplace. Three floors above, visitors dine and play table games at Grand Junction’s only outdoor rooftop restaurant.

The Grand Valley’s newest hotel, Hotel Maverick, finally made its grand unveiling June 18, after its opening was delayed from the start of May because of the coronavirus pandemic. The four-story teaching boutique hotel is located on Colorado Mesa University’s campus and has 60 rooms.

The hotel will not only provide visitors a more upscale option in the region than they’ve had before, but it will also provide a boost to Colorado Mesa students.

“One of the most important concepts of it is that it’s incorporated with the university,” said Gareth Brown, corporate director of operations for Charlestowne Hotels, the corporate entity operating the hotel. “The university has a growing and expanding hospitality program. We’re really looking at this as being a teaching hotel, too, so a number of the students in the hospitality program at CMU are able to come work here and earn internship credits for the time they spend here … Everybody, from a management perspective down to our associates, are involved or have been involved in one way or another with the university.”

In addition to employing CMU interns as well as CMU students in full-time roles, the hotel’s top-floor restaurant, Devil’s Kitchen, will provide opportunities for Western Colorado Community College culinary students starting in the fall.

The restaurant, which serves “Colorado-inspired cuisine,” is managed in-house, but it’s also its own entity separated from the hotel.

“We don’t use a third-party company or anything to manage the restaurant,” Brown said. “But we’re operating it like it’s its own independent stand-alone restaurant. We didn’t want people to think of it as a hotel restaurant because there’s kind of a not-always-great stigma with that. We wanted it to be seen as its own restaurant and provide a really unique experience as it relates to the dining. Phenomenal views and a more upscale quality and presence than what is offered in other areas in Grand Junction.”

Devil’s Kitchen is open for lunch every day from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. The restaurant reopens for dinner from 5-9 p.m. from Sunday-Thursday and stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The bar remains open until an hour after the restaurant closes.

Brown praised other hotels in the city, but mentioned that many of them are part of larger national chains. Hotel Maverick, which was conceived near the beginning of the 2010s and began construction Oct. 4, 2018, like Devil’s Kitchen, provides a different experience with a different feeling.

Additionally, since the hotel is associated with the university, guests can access the school’s facilities, such as the Hamilton Recreation Center and the El Pomar Natatorium swim facility.

The primary challenge in opening the hotel has been doing so in the midst of a global pandemic. Management and staff have been taking precautions.

“There are some new-normal things we’re having to face,” Brown said. “The way we’re cleaning rooms has always been good, but it has to be better. We’re in a situation where we’re limiting some of the services we’re providing simply to minimize exposure and potential for contact. Obviously, our staff are wearing face masks. We’re making sure we have more personal protection equipment for our staff when they are cleaning rooms ... We also are questioning staff members when they come in every day, doing temperature checks, making sure everybody’s within what the local ordinances and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are saying.”