WHERE TO: COLORADO SPRINGS
MEET - Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
This cultural center offers a number of unusual indoor and outdoor meeting spaces, accommodating up to 400 attendees. This will be the "Year of Georgia O'Keeffe" at the center, with events related to the artist and an expansive exhibit of her works this summer.
STAY - The Broadmoor
This resort sits on the southern edge of the Rockies, offering 54 holes of championship golf, six tennis courts, and indoor and outdoor pools, as well as 185,000 square feet of meeting space. It recently completed a $160 million renovation, adding new meeting options like Cloud Camp, a western-themed space with a panoramic view atop Cheyenne Mountain.
PLAY - The Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, this registered National Natural Landmark offers a vast area for hiking, biking, rock climbing, or learning about the local geology and history of the region. This May it will be unveiling a newly renovated center.
With a number of new properties open or soon to launch, Colorado offers no shortage of venues for meeting groups. But wherever planners opt to hold their event, they will want to set aside some time for attendees to enjoy the natural surroundings.
When it comes to a destination that maximizes Colorado's natural beauty, Vail remains one of the state's biggest draws. The boutique Sebastian-Vail -- A Timbers Resort is the newest hotel in Vail Village; and with 8,500 square feet of conference and event facilities, it also boasts the most meeting space. Venues include the 3,800-square-foot Ariel Ballroom and the 360-square-foot Magellan Boardroom as well as a luxury spa and restaurant Leonora. Last December it completed a reconfiguration of all 84 guest rooms, adding one- and two-bedroom executive suites and incorporating contemporary and abstract art for a "mountain chic" look.
Black Creek Group, based in Denver, held its annual investor meeting at the Sebastian-Vail. The property's proximity to the mountain made it easy to balance time in the boardroom with time on the slopes. "We wanted somewhere that people could relax and have a good time -- to meet for three quarters of the day, but have time for fun," says Carrie Keplinger, senior executive assistant of principal and co-founder of Black Creek Group. The "fun" side of the meeting included a ski day, an evening bowling event, and dinner at the popular Vail restaurant, Larkspur.
Colorado's capital city is busier than ever. Since 2005, Denver has seen a 48 percent increase in tourism -- up to 14 million overnight visitors in 2013. The city is moving fast to further expand its meetings offerings. Last May saw the opening of the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center, built in the restored Colorado National Bank Building. The hotel incorporates many historic details from the 1915 bank -- including three vaults with 33-inch doors that now serve as private meeting rooms. Its ground-floor restaurant, Range, specializes in Western fare and Colorado specialties, with wall-sized murals by local artist Allen Tupper True.
Next month will see the opening of The Art Hotel, a 165-room boutique property located next to the Denver Art Museum. The hotel lives up to its name, with an on-property curator (who formerly curated at the Denver Art Museum), distinctive decorations in each suite, and "pop-out" windows where guests can look out at the city or Rocky Mountains.
Later this year, a Hyatt Place/Hyatt House property will be opening just two blocks from the convention center, at Glenarm Place. The 346-room (with 113 suites) dual-branded property will target both business travelers (Hyatt Place) and extended-stay guests (Hyatt House). Groups can also look forward to the new Westin Hotel, Denver International Airport. It will offer 500 rooms, 12 meeting rooms and boardrooms (totaling 10,000 square feet), along with one grand and two junior ballrooms (totaling 16,000 square feet).
ESSENTIAL Tool Box
CONVENTION CENTERS & FACILITIES
Colorado Convention Center
(584,000 sf exhibit space)
Varies by city
Pinnacle Awards Go To:
• Colorado Springs CVB
• VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau
• Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center
• Grand Hyatt Denver
• Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center
• Keystone Resort & Conference Center
• Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel
• The Broadmoor
• The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa
An hour northwest of the capital, Boulder, is seeing some major developments as well. This month will see the opening of the new Hyatt Place Boulder/Pearl Street, adding 150 new rooms and 5,000 square feet of meeting space to the city's inventory, located near the trendy Depot Square at Boulder Junction.
The Glenn Miller Ballroom at the University Memorial Center at the University of Colorado-Boulder completed a major renovation this year. Among the changes to the 9,400-square-foot space are new skylights, hardwood floors, and even a water-bottle refilling station.
Those looking to drink while they meet can consider hosting an event at the new Boulder Wine Studios -- three separate wineries next door to one another. Groups can set up a meal, tasting, or event at any one of the three, or make an afternoon of visiting all of them.
Questions or comments? Email [email protected]
This article appears in the March 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.