Last week, my wife and I decided it was time for a last-minute weekend getaway, and we decided on Manitou Springs. We'd never been there, and its cave-and-castle kitschiness sounded like Niagara Falls mixed with oddball Colorado charm. As it would turn out, the town's lodgings would be happy to take us -- as long as we left our three-year-old at home.
Firing up Tripadvisor.com, we checked out our lodging options. Since we felt like splurging a bit, we decided against the Best Western or Comfort Inn; instead, the luxurious Cliff House at Pikes Peak looked attractive. It had towers! Like a kitschy castle! Whoopee! Unfortunately, according to the Cliff House's website, the only way they would allow us to stay with our son was if we splurged on one of their deluxe suites, even though their smaller accommodations clearly had enough room for a kid who can still fit inside a kitchen cabinet (trust me; he's tried many a time). Even if there were any of those deluxe suites available -- which there weren't -- the cost would have roughly equaled a flight to say, Hawaii. So the Cliff House was out.
Next, we checked out Manitou Springs' thriving bed and breakfasts. For a little mountain town, the place is crawling with such operations -- doilies a-plenty, stuffed French toast coming out of everybody's ears. But, as we soon found out, the Cliff House's anti-kid policy was not unique; nearly every single B&B in town refused to admit guests under the age of twelve. One place made an exception, but only if the kiddos didn't need their own sleeping arrangements. What are they supposed to do, bed down in the closet?
Then there was Blue Skies Inn, a colorful, quirky little place that allowed young ones -- but only if they signed a "Kid Contract" that was straight out of a Charles Dickens novel. Since, the contract begins, it's "a special privilege to be a child guest at a B&B," (actually, it's not; it's just part of being in a family that likes to go on vacations), minors have to agree to a list of persnickety rules, including wearing footwear at all times, tiptoeing up and down the stairs, washing their hands after eating and -- my favorite -- going to the bathroom before using the hot tub.
While most of the rules weren't necessarily outrageous, they're also common sense for any kid that's been out in public. Ever. Sorry, Blue Skies Inn, we aren't looking for lodging that's going to parent for us, just one that's going to serve us stuffed waffles.
Now, we know some bed and breakfasts don't like hosting kids, either because of size constraints or their plethora of fragile antiques or what have you. But a whole town that, aside from low-end lodgings, doesn't take kindly to minors? What's going on here? Did some sort of Children of the Corn catastrophe transpire in Manitou Springs, with legions of pint-sized hellions tearing apart doilies by the hundreds and spewing breakfast-time orange scone crumbs from their satanic little mouths?
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So what did we end up doing? Did we head off to Manitou Springs after leaving our three-year-old home alone, with nothing but a water bottle and a bag of stale Doritos for sustenance? Or did we end up hiding out all night in the fake tourist-trap cliff dwellings?
Actually, we ended doing neither. At the last minute, our son got sick with the flu and we spent the weekend cooped up in the house, playing Candy Land and watching PBS Kids.
We showed you, Manitou Springs. We showed you.
More from our Things to Do archive: "Stanley House: Estes Park home of Stanley Hotel namesake yours for $2.4 million (PHOTOS)"