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Carl Schmidt

The Capitol Hill Mansion was built in 1891 of ruby sandstone quarried from the Colorado Springs area.

One of many mansions built on the small hill behind the Colorado State Capitol, it is just one block from the Molly Brown House, which was made famous in a Broadway musical and hit movie. The mansion first became a bed and breakfast in 1994. Carl Schmidt purchased it in 2001 and made extensive renovations to the 8-room, 8,742 square foot property. The Richardson Romanesque style mansion is on the state and national register of historic places and has earned the highest award given by the American Bed & Breakfast Association.

MANY PEOPLE DREAM OF OWNING A BED & BREAKFAST AND GETTING TO LIVE IN A MANSION, BUT WHAT'S IT REALLY LIKE?
I get up every morning at 4:30 a.m. and start preparing breakfast, fresh fruit platter, homemade pastries, and the morning entrees. It gets the aromas going through the house. The guests tell me they can smell the bacon. I am in the kitchen every morning, seven days a week. The guests start coming down early for coffee, some come in the kitchen and join me, because they feel at home and they feel welcome.

We have breakfast from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., then there's check-out and check-in, getting the housekeeping going as well as cleanup. The mansion requires a lot of maintenance, so every afternoon I have a different project to work on around the house. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. we have a wine social in the parlor, featuring samples of local Colorado wines. It allows us the opportunity to get to know the guests who are staying with us at the Capitol Hill Mansion Bed & Breakfast.

THAT DOESN'T LEAVE A LOT OF TIME?
No, I am married to this business. It ties me down. I do my own marketing and tax work, and all the writing for the website. I only have eight rooms, so I have to be cost effective. But I love it. I have really found my niche. I enjoy meeting people from all over the world. There's always interaction with people. I love cooking, and having my daughter Bailey work with me. She handles reservations, check-ins, and she is also in the process of becoming a sous chef. It's great! We are two peas in the pod. And the best thing about owning a B&B is, you're always home. There's no commute, no traffic, and you live in a building out of a fairy tale.

DO YOU EVER GET A VACATION?
I do. I went to Texas recently and worked two days doing arena crew and chute work at a rodeo. You work your butt off, but it was fun and clears your mind. It's a hobby of mine.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THIS BUSINESS?
I was a CPA by trade and I had a lot of clients in the hospitality industry in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I also owned a motel and RV resort on Mustang Island. I was skiing a lot in Breckenridge and loved the Rocky Mountains. I always had in the back of my mind a dream to own a B&B and I had been searching nationwide when I saw this house in Denver and just fell in love with it.

WHY DO YOU THINK TOURISM MATTERS? WHAT DOES TOURISM ADD TO DENVER?
Denver wouldn't be where it is today if it wasn't for tourism. If you didn't have all the tourism, you wouldn't have the 16th Street Mall. You wouldn't be able to support the Denver Performing Arts Complex or Cherry Creek Shopping Center or the sports teams. My guests come for all those things. Some of my guests are in town for business, but many of them are tourists who come for a game or a play or to shop. They love Denver because you get a flavor of the West, and people love to see the "real" West. Tourists love that they can park at the mansion and walk to a lively downtown.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE ENTERING THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
You have to have the personality to do it. You have to enjoy dealing with people. I suggest that people start by volunteering to work at hotels and B&Bs to see if they like it. I've worked for many years with students from the Art Institute of Colorado, both with interns and students that we hire. It gives me a chance to learn something as well as teach them something. I've learned techniques, like cutting fruit, from some of the culinary students, and they're able to learn from me about running a hotel and my recipes.

What sets apart our B&B from everyone else is the food. People say to me, "We love the property, but we're coming back for your food." Come spring, we'll be doing a brunch out in the gardens from 10-2 on the weekends, and we always do lunch and brunch by reservations, or private dinners in-room for the "Mile High" price of $52.80. You have to work this business. You constantly have to come up with new ideas. But I love it. And I've met some of the greatest people in the world owning and operating this business.