A Room on the River: A Buena Vista Boutique Hotel

There are many reasons to visit Buena Vista, the little high-valley town situated midway between Salida and Leadville at the foot of the Continental Divide. Most involve outdoor pursuits of the adventurous sort. There are nearby fourteeners to summit, Class I-V rapids to raft and gold-medal waters to fish. So when the stylish Surf Chateau opened at South Main, a New Urbanist-style community adjacent to a world-class whitewater park on the Arkansas River, it became not just the area’s first boutique hotel, but also a stylish new draw to the historic town.

Self-proclaimed “design geeks,” South Main co-founder (and former pro kayaker) Jed Selby and his wife Kennley obsessed over every detail of the 20-room hotel, from its river
-rock archways to its sparkling chandeliers.

“We got enamored with this idea of French chateaux, particularly those in rural parts of France,” Jed Selby says of the inspiration for the hotel’s simple stone construction. Lest the building look out of place, or, worse, “like Disneyland,” Selby and his team took great pains to incorporate local Victorian-era design details, from roof pitches to window proportions, as well as local materials—most notably, granite river rocks sourced on site.

The Surf Chateau offers two distinct room styles: Ten cottage rooms face a central courtyard and have a beachy vibe inspired by the hotel’s riverfront setting. “Simple, clean and bright was our thought,” Selby says of their white tongue-and-groove walls and ceilings, rattan chairs and crisp linens. Ten chateau rooms artfully blend rustic details (reclaimed wood collar beams and cast-iron gas stoves) with elegant touches (19th-century-inspired canopy beds, clawfoot tubs, antique mirrors and plaster moldings).

“We love detail, but we also agree with the French belief that there is beauty in restraint,” Selby says. “We want guests to love this place even more on the third day because they didn’t notice all the details on day one.” 


Guest rooms at the Surf Chateau offer one or two queen-size beds or single king-size beds. Selby’s favorite, the Riverfront King/Twin Suite, has a cozy daybed nook with trundle in addition to its king-size bed. Nightly room rates range from the low $100s during the low season (spring and late fall) to the mid $200s in the high (summer) season. South Main’s onsite Adventure Hub can outfit guests for outdoor adventures big and small, from river-rafting excursions and stand-up paddleboard lessons to tennis racquet rentals. surfchateau.com

Categories: Mountain Travel