How To Keep Your Small Town Hotel Charm While Going High-Tech: A Case Study

wyman hotel

Nestled in the mountains of the San Juan Skyway, at 9,318 feet above sea level—in the “Wild West”, 600-inhabitant town of Silverton, Colorado—The Wyman Hotel is not the first place you might expect to find a super-high-end technology.

Yet, this 15-bedroom hideaway combines natural beauty with what its owners, couple Shane Fuhrman and Haley Morgan, call “the comforts and amenities of an urban boutique hotel”.

Blush pink and sumptuous teal velvet furnishings last seen on your favorite Instagram account combine with a streamlined Operto hotel operating model to create a cozy jewel of a hotel—with a warm family atmosphere, small team, happy guests, and relaxed owners.

01_A cozy bed with a view outside at The Wyman


Fuhrman and Morgan never aspired to run a huge hotel firm. They have instead focused on providing the best, most modern, and relaxing experience possible for their guests—while also ensuring that they too have time to live the fulfilling life they dreamed of when they first arrived in Silverton.

Here’s how they did it.

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A small-town hotel doesn’t need to be antiquated

Combining chic design and rich historical charm with discreet and intuitive technology, this hotel offers inspirational proof that contactless hotel technology doesn’t have to mean soulless. 

It shows that slick, modern operations can absolutely work alongside a cozy, small-town family vibe.

Beyond the contactless and keyless check-in process, The Wyman also offers four Tesla charging stations, along with fiber-optic Wi-Fi and Bluetooth speakers to borrow.

“People are somewhat surprised to see this level of technology in a location as remote and antiquated as this town,” says Fuhrman. “You know, it's very old [Wild] West. 

“They even still have the saloon buildings and stuff. So for someone to walk into a connected building is pretty cool. And they often comment on it.”

02_The Wyman communal space


This hotel check-in automation technology blends seamlessly with the hotel’s old-town, “retreat” vibe, and its high-end spec combines easily with low-tech, traditional options such as books, cards, and board games (also available to borrow).

There is also separate sporting gear storage for all that heavy outdoor kit, and a rustic but beautiful patio with seating and mountain surroundings, to ensure that the high-end technology never takes the focus away from the hotel’s stunning Alpine Loop views.

The Wyman’s story: from its beginnings to today

Unlike some hoteliers, Morgan and Fuhrman don’t come from a traditional hospitality background. 

Instead, they came to The Wyman because of their own love of travel. They first saw the building—which dates back to 1902—back when it was just a humble mountain B&B.

Fuhrman explains that before buying the place, he had visited the town as a tourist, thanks to its location as a great base for extreme sports such as heliskiing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and even a 100-mile ultra run—which Furhman describes as “very hardcore”.

And then, he explains, “we started falling in love with Silverton and thought that this was an interesting super-remote destination. There are no streetlights, there's one paved road—but there's fiber-optic internet here, despite it being very rugged. It’s a really cool, unique spot.”

From humble travel to hotel technology

Wyman Dinner Party


But how did the couple make the transition from traveler to hotelier?

It was this perspective as frequent travelers that allowed the couple to bring their innovative vision to an otherwise small town.

Furhman says: “We thought it was an interesting opportunity to be ahead of the curve, in places that typically lag behind. 

“We moved out here to do due diligence on different properties, and the owners of The Wyman, who were running it as a B&B, reached out to us and said that they'd be interested in selling to us. And we were fortunate to be able to put together a group to buy it pretty quickly.”

Designed for digital

The couple snapped up the opportunity and embarked on a serious two-year renovation project, with Morgan doing all the design herself. After months of updates, the hotel opened its doors in May 2019 and has been busy ever since.

But getting ahead of the curve using tech wasn’t always such a streamlined experience, as Fuhrman explains, and getting the right hardware in place took some work.

He says: “The lock system we had on 12 of our rooms [before we switched to Operto] was pretty annoying to use, and we didn’t feel that [our previous operator] was helping us,” he says. “That was one friction that we experienced.

“But when we started working with Operto, we brought four more rooms online, which now use a different lock, with tactile keypads, and they’ve been great. People have a much easier time with them.” 

Shane Fuhrman

The Wyman Hotel Owner

Why keyless works best for The Wyman and its guests

A better guest experience

Designed with “artists, creatives, and adventurers” in mind, The Wyman now offers all the perks of a cowboy country haven—other local activities include mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, and skiing—without sacrificing modernity and style. 

It now provides a truly streamlined experience for its forward-thinking, modern, adventure-loving guests.

This includes ensuring that guests have a good experience from start to finish, including being able to check in whenever they like, and limiting opportunities for friction and needless in-person interaction.

As Fuhrman explains: “Keys are just antiquated. Having an aspect of a property that requires an in-person interaction with a guest is just unnecessary. 

“I remember when recently we were doing a road trip, and we had a reservation at a hotel but were running late and they were like, ‘Hey, if you don't get here by 10 o'clock, there's not going to be anyone to let you in your room’.

“We ended up having to cancel and find a different hotel, even though we got in at 10:30 pm. That just seems like a total unnecessary hassle. I don’t want to stress guests out.”

The Wyman Hotel


As a result, at The Wyman, streamlined technology means that guests that arrive at 10 pm or later intentionally get the same stress-free check-in experience as those that arrive at 1 pm.

Fuhrman also appreciates other aspects of switching to automation hotel technology, such as giving guests a simple four-digit number “that they can remember easily” in advance, without them having to download a separate phone app or have a phone connection to use it.

This relaxed approach is not to be confused with apathy. 

The Wyman puts the guest experience at the heart of everything it does, and Fuhrman and his team take great care to provide the perfect atmosphere throughout every guest stay.

He explains: “Really high-end restaurant tours talk about how you're catering to all five senses. Someone touches a door handle, they hear the sound, they smell the room, they interact with the person...all this stuff happens in a restaurant before the food or menus or taste are even talked about. 

“I like to approach hospitality in the same way. I like to think ‘How can we curate the most relaxing and satisfying experience for a guest from start to finish thinking about all of the five senses?’”

05_The Wyman pink curtains with view


Ready to adapt to challenges

This attention to detail is clearly paying off. At a time when many businesses in the hotel industry have been struggling to stay open at all, The Wyman has capitalized on its lean operating model and unique location to not just survive, but thrive.

It has now just acquired a second site, in Durango; and will be bringing 28 keyless hotel door locks online with Operto in the next few months.

Fuhrman puts the hotel’s increase in tourism down to its unique location and its technical setup.

He says: “We were able to very efficiently and effectively manage the business despite Covid because we already had a high degree of technology.

“Even before Covid, we designed it to be contact-free, and all of our doors have keypads. From  a business perspective, we rely heavily on the Operto integration, which allows us to function in a very stable way.”


The Wyman Hotel Owner

Fewer staff and cost savings

Using Operto hotel automation technology to full effect means that The Wyman has also been able to save energy and reduce staff; and keep an eye on access, security, and housekeeping from a single portal, at an easy glance.

This has enabled the team to adapt their employee costs accordingly; reducing staff numbers and outlay at quieter times, while still allowing staff more freedom even when the hotel is busy.

As Fuhrman explains: “We can control the lights, heat, and music, and access control, from our phones in real-time, as well as security cameras too.”

06_The Wyman beds with lights


In fact, The Wyman was designed to be adaptable and unique right from the start, drawing on its remote, seasonal location to use automation technology to best effect. 

This approach allowed the couple to make their margins larger, and maintain consistent revenue despite the hotel’s remote location.

Fuhrman says: “One of the things that always happened here before us is that all of the businesses closed in the spring and fall when it wasn't the height of the tourist season. It was this tautological problem: Because businesses were closed, nobody visited; and nobody visited so businesses were closed. 

“But we wanted to design the hotel to be able to flex up and flex down depending on how busy it was; and always be sustainable, even when it's slow. Our technology allows us to do that.

“Now, we can essentially run the whole building with just our cleaning staff and one manager during slow times, and staff up when it’s busy [to five staff].”

The Wyman founder’s advice to other boutique hotels

When asked what advice he would give to a hotel manager currently looking to switch to a digital hotel operation model, Fuhrman is clear. “Do it yesterday,” he says.

His only advice would be for short-term rental managers and hoteliers to ensure their digital infrastructure and network connection is on point before making the leap—a technical detail that Operto specializes in helping its partners to perfect.

He says: “That'd be the only caution I have for anybody if you’re somewhere that [issues] happen with any frequency. Otherwise, I'd say do it. It'll be the best decision you've ever made.”

07_The Wyman double bed with lights above


The Wyman: Proof that contactless doesn’t mean soulless

The Wyman is proof that technology can work brilliantly to reduce costs, drive up revenue, and impress guests—no matter the size, location, or style of your business.

While everyone else might be talking about how important it is to go contactless, Operto can actually show you how to do it and works alongside you as an equal partner in helping your hotel or short-term rental make the switch to transformational technology.

So whether your business is a tiny urban studio, a range of modern units, or an expansive mountain retreat for adventurers and creatives like The Wyman—we’ve got you covered.

As Fuhrman says: “Do it yesterday. It'll be the best decision you've made.”

Connect your operations

Want to see how contactless technology could help your hotel save time and make guests happier?