Leadville couple to hold essay contest to give away inn

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We don’t know how much a famous writer earns per word for a great novel, but some perceptive author stands to make a tidy $3,966.66 per word if theirs is selected as the winning essay in the Great Leadville Ice Palace caper.

For a $230 entry fee and a 150-word treatise about why you would like to own and operate a bed and breakfast inn, you could be the owner of Leadville’s historic Ice Palace Bed and Breakfast. Leadville is a former mining town that has the distinction of being the highest (in elevation, at 10,152 feet) incorporated city in the continental United States.

Inn owners, Giles and Kami Kolakowski, opened the inn eight years ago, lovingly filling it with antiques; the stained glass work of Kami is also a prominent decorating highlight. Now they want to relocate their young family closer to kin. The couple has three children, a four-year-old son, and twin 21-month-old daughters.

However, they are not getting out of the inn business. Wherever they relocate, they plan to own another bed and breakfast.

“Over the years many guests have told us their dream was to run a B&B,” said Kami Kolakowski. “We know what it was like to struggle to start a business. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone could walk into an existing Colorado bed and breakfast, reservations in place, no mortgage, and a national reputation?”

Sold outright, the inn could command $595,000, or the above mentioned figure of nearly $4,000 per word. There has been interest from outright buyers, but the down payment requirements are prohibitive for most, said Giles.

The Ice Palace got its name from an 1896 structure. About 5,000 tons of ice were used in its construction. The five-acre building housed a riding stable, a grand ballroom for dancing, and a large ice rink. The Ice Palace was built to bolster Leadville’s sagging economy, but Chinook winds melted the ice and soon the building became a footnote in Leadville’s colorful history.

However, some of the lumber used in the original Ice Palace was rescued and used to build the home the Kolakowskis later turned into a bed and breakfast inn.

In addition to scoring the historic inn, the winner will live in the town once home to the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. The infamous Doc Holliday once haunted Leadville’s streets. Meyer Guggenheim and David May of the May Clothing Company lived in Leadville, as did Horace and ‘Baby Doe’ Tabor. The city was once so wealthy it paved the street in front of the opera house with silver bricks before a visit by Ulysses S. Grant.

A two and one-half hour drive from Colorado Springs, Leadville today is a tourist destination and gateway to Copper Mountain, a prime skiing area. Vail is less than an hour away, and hiking, snowmobiling, white-water rafting and innumerable other outdoor activities are virtually out the back door.

“The inn has great financials,” Giles said. “So, write something nice and you may just win the Palace of Ice.”

Here are the contest details: It runs through December 31, 2002, with an option to extend it 120 days if the minimum 2,500 entries are not received. An independent panel will choose the winner, and the Kolakowskis are attempting to get Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa as ‘Dream Judges.’ They are also contacting Oprah Winfrey and David Letterman.

This year the inn was voted to have the best mountain view in North America, and was recently voted the “Inn with the Most Historical Charm” in a national contest.

If you would like a virtual tour of the Ice Palace Inn, go to its website at www.icepalaceinn.com.