By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
Disneyland Paris has chosen iconic themes for each of its hotels to transport European travelers from their everyday lives to new and interesting American worlds.
There are six such themed hotels ranging from Disney Hotel New York to Disney Hotel Santa Fe.
Among the six iconic themes is one that surprised Visit Cheyenne President and CEO Domenic Bravo.
It’s called Disney Hotel Cheyenne, a Wild-West themed hotel that has Wyoming written all over it.
But calling it a hotel seems a gross understatement. It’s an immersive themed experience all its own built around an entire Old West town. Various buildings house rooms, while others are home to shops and restaurants.
The town’s bank is historically accurate outside, but inside is a Starbucks.
Bravo was part of a Wyoming contingent invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Paris hotel.
Bravo told Cowboy State Daily he discovered the hotel in 2020 when he was researching ties between Laramie County and Cheyenne to other places in the world.
“I reached out to Disney then, of course, but the pandemic happened,” he said. “So, I reached out again earlier this year just to say, ‘Hey, I wonder if there’s some type of a partnership, because it’s kind of cool that you folks built a hotel based on our community.’”
Best Of All Worlds
Disney invited a contingent of Wyomingites to celebrate the hotel’s 30th anniversary in November.
“People in France love the West,” Bravo said. “It was such a cool thing to see their folks dressed up as cowgirls and cowboys, kind of like the Old West.”
The themed hotel brings the Wild West and Americana to European travelers, but with a uniquely Wyoming flair.
“In the main, kind of like, outdoor area is the U.S. flag, the French flag and then, right in the middle, is the Wyoming flag. So, it was pretty amazing, pretty surreal.”
The carpet meanwhile, is Wyoming’s trademark bucking Steamboat, Bravo said.
And the various saloons offer saddles to sit on for those wanting to “belly up” to the bar.
The restaurant is a French fusion of barbecue and French cuisine, all with a giant, covered wagons theme.
Even on a slow day, that restaurant serves 2,000 breakfasts a day, Bravo said.
“It is very popular,” he said. “We were all shocked. It was surreal to pull up and see the giant sign that said, you know, ‘Hotel Cheyenne,’ and being from the community, we took photos next to that.
“Having the flag and everything there was a surreal experience.”
Cheyenne’s Sister City
Along with visiting the Hotel Cheyenne in Paris, Bravo’s group also dropped in on sister city Lourdes.
“That is our sister city from the 1980s,” Bravo said. “So there was a proclamation, a resolution from the city council here in the 1980s, because Lourdes held the first Pyrenees National Rodeo in their community.”
A contingent of Wyomingites familiar with Frontier Days traveled to the community at the time to help Lourdes develop the event.
“A lot of the conversations we were having is the similarities they’re currently dealing with that match ours,” Bravo said. “They’re looking at trying to do some additional expansion, like we’re doing through our tourism master plan, so creating events during the winter and doing some stuff with outdoor recreation.”
Bravo said both groups expressed a desire to visit Cheyenne to learn more about their French-American ties.
“I know for sure that staff from the Hotel Cheyenne, we’re going to make plans, probably even this year, for a few of them (to visit),” he said.
Wyoming Gifts For All
Bravo and his group took bandanas and stickers with Cheyenne, Wyoming, logos, as well as buckles set inside a shadow box for both Hotel Cheyenne and the mayor of Lourdes.
It was a great moment for building an international relationship, Bravo said, adding it’s something he hopes helps take the Cowboy State mystique global.
“Folks come to visit from all over the world at their namesake of this hotel,” Bravo said. “All the staff now have information about the community that they represent when they’re there.”
Bravo’s group met with about 200 members of the Hotel Cheyenne staff, which he said was a great opportunity to tell them more about the community they’re representing to European travelers.
Paris Comes To Cheyenne
Whether the international exchange will lead to future events or more cultural exchanges is something Bravo isn’t sure about, but Cheyenne already has some French culture with things like Paris West, a restaurant that describes itself as Western cuisine featuring a French twist.
“It’s kind of fun to see that we already have some things like that going on,” Bravo said.
One thing he hopes for is that it ultimately leads to more visitation in Cheyenne from Europeans interested in learning more about what the Cowboy State and Cheyenne have to offer.
“It’s kind of amazing that we’re in the same line as New York or Santa Fe,” Bravo said.
It was also thrilling to see Cheyenne listed as a destination city in a European venue.
“We know we’re a destination just because of all the folks who come to see us,” Bravo said. “But to be able to have it on an international basis, being listed as one of the primary things that folks want to come see, I think is awesome.”