It's a good hour's drive out from Cortez, into the park and up the mountain to the main visitor's center.
If your time is limited, just stay at the Lodge. You can get up early and get directly about the business of exploring this magical place.
Rooms are dated, but clean and quite adequate given the location. It appears that all the room have balconies, and views are expansive, although there is so much to explore at Mesa Verde, you probably won't have much in room daylight time to take the view in. The rooms have good Wi-Fi, but no TV (at least ours was that way) which was fine with us. June-Aug visitors might want to upgrade to AC equipped room, in early Oct, we had no need for it.
For diner your options are the Metate Room (a bit pricey, but with excellent food well worth it). Or
a bar menu which looked pretty decent too. Breakfast was decent and reasonable at the cafeteria.
The main reason to stay here is just the hand proximity to all the tours and trails in the park. Why spend 2 hours of your vacation day driving mountain roads when you just wake up and be there. Even the camping areas in the park are a fair drive from the main events.More