CWU hospitality graduate named GM of historic hotel

  • August 23, 2023
  • Rune Torgersen

The Brown Palace Hotel has occupied a revered spot in the Denver, Colorado, hotel scene since 1892, offering iconic dining options, lavishly furnished rooms, and live music to a guest list encompassing presidents, celebrities, and royalty for over 130 years.

This summer, the hotel hired Central Washington University hospitality graduate Jana Smith as its first-ever female general manager.

"I'm thrilled to now be a part of the team at The Brown Palace and am very much looking forward to preserving and returning this majestic icon to her glory," said Smith, who completed her bachelor's degree in hospitality at CWU in 1997.

"Of course, I'm focused on continued growth and financial success, but there's also a higher purpose at play with a desire to keep the historic hotel connected with the community and enhance the already spectacular traditions of the past while introducing new traditions for the future."

Since her time in Ellensburg, Smith has leveraged her degree and talent for management to rise through the ranks at a slew of the finest hotels in the country, including Seattle's Olympic Fairmont. During her time as vice president of hospitality with the Brush Creek Ranch in Saratoga, Wyoming, she contributed to the resort being named No. 1 in the U.S. by both Travel and Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler magazines.

As general manager at The Brown Palace Hotel, Smith will focus on the traditions and community that have helped The Brown Palace evolve into what it is today.

"I'm passionate about continuing to write the story and share the rich history that truly makes this hotel Denver's Grand Dame," she said.

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