Little ol’ Monte Vista, Colorado holds a special treat for cinema lovers that passes unnoticed by most vehicles buzzing along Highway 160. But for those grown wearing under the Western sun – or on a madcap cinematic quest for nostalgia – a treasure unlike any other lies waiting at the Best Western Movie Manor.
Here, guests don’t just watch movies in their rooms… but from them.
Back in 1955, the Star Drive-In wasn’t that special in and of itself, containing a single screen and spots for 300 cars. Then in 1964, its enterprising owners saw an opportunity to capitalize on the magic of movies year round by opening an attached motel. Consisting of 14 rooms arranged in a semi-circular fashion around the screen with portrait windows facing the big show, George Kelloff Sr.’s “Movie Manor” proved a rousing success.
With arms full of fresh popcorn and other classic movie theater treats, patrons of the world’s only motor lodge-slash-cinema could return to their rooms to enjoy a film, while patrons in the lot watched on from their vehicles. A playground beneath the screens entertained children by day, while motel patrons took-in films by way of picture windows overlooking that same giant screen by night, accompanied by sound piped-in through speakers attached to FM radios. Guests regularly commented on how much they delighted in the ability to drink cold beers during the movie without danger of being busted for sneaking booze into a theater.
These days, surprisingly little has changed at the Movie Manor since the heyday of drive-ins. Still just a short walk from the rooms are the drive-in’s spaces – emptier now than they once were – and its classic snack shack. Film screenings continue to run mid-May through September, allowing patrons to check in, pull up a chair to the window, and crank the volume to whichever film happens to be playing on the vintage screen that evening.
Save for a single change in ownership, Movie Manor seems to be one of those magical places where time continues to stand still.