Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Neighbor from a neighboring state

By Will Bublitz

A young man from Utah is now the general manager of the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Limon.
Holden Hopla became the local hotel’s general manager at the end of February. The 26-year-old moved here from his hometown of Vernal, Utah to take over the job.

“This is my first time as a general manager,” Holden said. “Before I came here, I’d worked as the front desk manager for the Holiday Inn Express in Vernal. Being offered this position was quite a shock because it was not what I was expecting.”

Despite the challenge, Holden said he has adapted and is enjoying his new position. The three-story, 68-room Holiday Inn Express in Limon is owned and operated by Mars Hospitality, a Parker, Colo.-based company that has hotels in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin.

“As the general manager, I do anything that needs to be done here at the Holiday Inn Express,” he said. “I supervise housekeeping, front desk, building maintenance, the training of the staff, as well as taking care of all the administrative work such as paying the bills. I also handle customer complaints which thankfully have been very few in Limon. I do a little bit of everything including to help make beds this morning.”

Holden said his job is made so much easier because of the hard work and dedication of the hotel’s 25-member staff.

Although he had worked for the same franchise in  Utah, Holden said the Holiday Inn Express in Limon is quite different.

“In Vernal, a lot of our rooms were filled on a long-term basis with oil field workers,” he said. “There weren’t a lot of walk-ins, but here in Limon it’s completely different. Often I can leave for the day with 30 rooms still empty, but return the next morning to find that all of them are filled overnight with guests coming off Interstate 70. It took me awhile to get used to that.”

To take the general manager’s position in Limon, Holden had to leave Vernal where he was born and raised. His parents and brother still live there.

“Vernal is located right next to Dinosaur National Monument that straddles the Colorado-Utah border, so I grew up in dinosaur land,” he said. “In fact, the name of the hotel where I worked at was called the Holiday Inn Express & Suite Vernal - Dinosaurland.”

After graduating from Uintah High School in Vernal, Holden moved to Provo, Utah to attend Steven Henager College to study computer science. Moving back home to Vernal in 2008, he took a job with the Holiday Inn Express.

“My first job was working as the night auditor from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” he said. “I did that for a year before moving to the a.m. shift at the front desk. I also worked in laundry and housekeeping. I was the Assistant Executive Housekeeper for awhile. I eventually worked in every department except maintenance. Finally, I was named Front Desk Manager and worked at it for six months before I was offered this job. I really love working in hospitality.”

Holden admitted that moving to Eastern Colorado was a bit of an adventure.

“I had to get out a map to find where Limon was.,” he said. “This is the farthest east that I’ve ever been. But after I got here, I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone here is so nice. The restaurants in Limon are great. And I love my little Holiday Inn Express.”

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