Stanley Ghost Stories Shine with Authenticity

ESTES PARK, Colo. – In spite of its Georgian architecture and stately beauty, The Stanley Hotel is unarguably best known for being haunted. It’s not just rumors or vague campfire-like stories that have cultivated its reputation - though the fact that Stephen King was so spooked after his visit he penned The Shining lends it some credence. Countless guests have attested to eerie occurrences that cannot be discounted – lights turning on and off, doors opening and closing, laughter, footsteps, shadows, drafts and unexplainable chills have cemented The Stanley’s stature as one of the most haunted hotels in America.

Longtime staff can attest to at least four spirits that regularly roam the hotel’s corridors, halls and rooms. Lucy, Paul, Eddie, and Elizabeth, none of whose mischievously playful personalities made the final cut in King’s lore, may be eternal guests of the hotel. In essence though, they seem to just be dedicated, die-hard employees and travelers seeking respite.

Elizabeth Wilson was the chief housekeeper who, during an early summer storm in 1911, was injured in an explosion as she was lighting the acetylene lanterns in room 217. She survived with broken ankles, but to this day takes special care of room 217’s guests, possibly even King, who stayed there just days before the near-deserted Stanley closed for the winter. King is said to have encountered a young child during his stay, though there were no children visiting at that time. Guests have reported items moved, luggage unpacked, and lights being turned on and off.

The Concert Hall also is a hot spot of paranormal activity. Paul worked at The Stanley from 1995-2005 and died of a heart attack while en route from the hotel to the hospital after suffering chest pains. Known as a jack-of –all-trades, one of Paul’s responsibilities was to enforce the hotel’s 11 p.m. curfew. It’s not uncommon to hear a faint and ominous “get out” in the after hours, though it’s unclear if he’d be so bold as to shush hotel founder Flora Stanley, who can often be heard playing the piano, some seven decades after her demise. A construction worker sanding the floor just a few years ago believes Paul was brazen enough to physically nudge him to the door after feeling two arms pull him back. Paul is also known to flicker the flashlights of touring groups.

Lucy also wanders the Concert Hall, tampering with lights and lifting spirits. She’s been known to actively communicate with and answer questions from staff and parapsychologists via flashlights, but her story and pre-death connection to The Stanley remain unclear. It is surmised she was a runaway or homeless woman who found refuge there. Whatever her history, employees insist Lucy’s presence and distant melodious humming lightens the energy and mood wherever she lingers.

The same cannot be said for Eddie, who initially presented himself with a foul odor, earning him the nickname “Stinky Man.” Apparently offended by the moniker, Eddie switched tactics and began exuding a more pleasant smell. His presence, however, seems to cause discomfort, possibly due to a life of hardship, according to visiting psychics and mediums. He has since lightened up, but remains the resident prankster and apparently a ladies’ man, often suspected of stroking the hair and kissing their cheeks of female guests. Eddie began visiting The Stanley just a few years ago and has no known connection to the property. It is wondered if Lucy and Eddie are simply a new demographic of guests, and raises the question of travel in the afterlife.

A myriad of phenomena, not necessarily attributed to the aforementioned usual suspects, has been reported throughout the property. The sounds of partygoers, bygone celebrations, and children laughing (particularly on the fourth floor where children and nannies once stayed), can often be heard. The hotel’s preternatural afterlife is often palpable and has attracted professional skeptics and paranormal investigators alike. The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Syfy’s Ghost Hunters are just two of many teams to investigate the occurrences. Most claim to have heard voices and thumping and saw strange lights, shadows and orbs. Ghost Hunter’s lead investigator Jason Hawes had a glass on his nightstand shatter not long after the closet door opened and closed.

A handful of the incidents can be attributed to breezes, piping or ventilation systems. It’s also been suggested that a high concentration of quartz, limestone and magnetite beneath the hotel affects either the property’s energy or gravitational forces, and/or is conducive to residual haunting or captured energy.

Skeptics of The Stanley abound, but they are far outnumbered by resolute guests and staff who stand by their experiences. And explainable or not, hotel management has long embraced its other-worldly connections, going so far as to employ paranormal investigator Lisa Nyhart, who leads monthly ghost hunts.

“We have more nights with activity than without,” Nyhart said. “It’s a Disneyland for spirits.” Perhaps affirming that even the dead are in need of a vacation.

Famous for its old world charm, The Stanley Hotel boasts spectacular views in every direction and is less than six miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. Multi-million dollar renovations have restored this 155-guestroom hotel to its original grandeur. The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a member of Historic Hotels of America and is only an hour away from Denver, making it an ideal destination for a Colorado getaway.

The Stanley Hotel is managed by Grand Heritage Hotel Group. Founded in 1989 by John Cullen, Grand Heritage Hotel Group is one of the nation’s premier owner-operators of independent luxury hotels and resorts. Its properties are sought-after destinations that offer consistent luxury, quality and exceptional surroundings. Several Grand Heritage properties enjoy prestigious distinction as designated Historic Hotels of America. The company prides itself on the vision and strategic expertise of its leadership. Highly innovative and experienced professionals collectively boast more than 50 years of hands-on experience in all aspects of the hotel and hospitality business and are recognized for imaginative and entrepreneurial style. Grand Heritage owns and operates hotels in North America. It also operates Grand Heritage Hotels International Brand, which has a number of properties in Europe, The Middle East, India and North Africa. For more information, please visit