Denver seems to have gone from sleepy western town to boomtown. In November it broke ground on the $160 million Pepsi Center, a basketball and hockey arena that will seat 19,300, and--along with Denver's baseball stadium, Coors Field--will undoubtedly draw even more sports fans into the city. The Pepsi Center is on course for opening for the 1999 to 2000 sports season.
Meanwhile, a $100 million project, the Denver Pavilions, is under construction on the 16th Street Mall. Set to open in November, the two-block-long dining, shopping, and entertainment project will include three nightclubs, a Virgin Records Mega Store, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, a Hard Rock Cafe, and a Nike Town among its crowd-pleasers.
In May 1999, Colorado's Ocean Journey, a $93 million aquarium, will open on the north side of the Platte River across from Elitch Gardens, the downtown Denver amusement park that last year added $25 million in new rides. And after a 24-year development project, the South Platte itself has gone from eyesore to major recreational magnet, providing kayaking and rafting opportunities on its waters, biking on its shores, and a series of 11 new riverside parks. Commons Park, the newest, is a 30-acre green space now under construction, with the first phase scheduled for completion in mid-1999.
Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region annually draws more than four million visitors and has 8,500 hotel and motel rooms. Popular excursions include the Garden of the Gods park and the 14,110-foot Pikes Peak; the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo; and the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
The mountain resorts in Colorado are renowned for their skiing, but now snowshoeing, snowboarding, dog sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, hot-air ballooning, and sleigh rides are coming on strong as winter activities for groups as well. And the Rockies resorts offer even more recreational options in summer than in winter. In Snowmass Village, there's white-water rafting, golf, tennis, fly fishing, jeeping, mountain biking, ballooning, and horseback riding. The Aspen/Snowmass area boasts its Aspen Music Festival, while Vail/Beaver Creek and Telluride hold summer events ranging from Vail's International Dance Festival to Telluride's film festival.
Colorado's newest conference facility will be opening in July 1999 in Mountain Village, two miles from Telluride. The 22,000-square-foot Telluride Conference Center will have 11,000 square feet of public space and seat 520 people banquet-style and 550 theater-style. There will be no lodging on site, but the center staff will coordinate housing with the approximately 850 lodging units in the area. Mountain Village is linked by road to Telluride (a seven-mile drive), and the community has the only gondola public transportation system in the country, operating 16 hours a day.
Hotel News Aspen/Snowmass * The Gant, a 123-condominium unit resort, completed a conference center expansion early this year. The $1 million project included the addition of an 886-square-foot boardroom, 256 square feet of prefunction space, a 500-square-foot exercise facility, and enlargement of the outdoor terrace. The facility now comprises 5,052 square feet of indoor and 3,516 square feet of outdoor function space.
* The former Ritz-Carlton, Aspen has been acquired by ITT Sheraton and renamed the St. Regis Aspen. The 257-room hotel has 25,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 9,274-square-foot ballroom, eight meeting rooms, and two boardrooms.
* The Little Nell, a ski-in/ski-out resort at the base of Aspen Mountain, has 92 guest accommodations, including nine suites and seven executive suites. It can serve from 10 to 250 people for meetings.
* The Hotel Jerome has been named a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. The Victorian hotel, built in 1889, is in the heart of downtown Aspen and features 93 rooms and suites.
* The Snowmass Village Conference Center complex offers 34,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and dining for up to 1,000 people. It is adjacent to the slopes at Snowmass, with 2,500 skiable acres. There are 35 meeting rooms ranging from 400 to 4,500 square feet in throughout Snowmass Village, totaling an additional 37,000 square feet. The Village can accommodate meetings for up to 2,000 people.
Breckenridge * The Village at Breckenridge, A Wyndham Resort, offers 18 meeting rooms that total more than 30,000 square feet of conference space. The resort is two hours west of Denver International Airport. There are 347 guest rooms ranging from hotel rooms to three-bedroom condominiums.
* The Lodge & Spa at Breckenridge will remain open during renovations, scheduled for completion early next year. The $8 million project will add 35 new guest suites to the existing 45. Meeting facilities will also be upgraded, and the ballroom enlarged. The spa will be refurbished, and a new outdoor heated pool and sundeck added. The resort now offers private airport transportation.
* Beaver Run Resort and Conference Center offers more than 500 accommodations ranging from hotel rooms to four-bedroom condominiums. It is located at the base of Peak nine at the Breckenridge Ski Area.
Colorado Springs * The Broadmoor Hotel, a 3,000-acre property, has 700 rooms, including 93 suites, and 115,000 square feet of meeting space. In May, it installed a new irrigation system for its East and West Courses, and completed a new driving range behind the 18th hole on the East Course with five target greens, 10,000 square feet of putting greens, 35,000 square feet of tee space, and a pitching green with two bunkers.
* An $8 million expansion and renovation program was completed this June at Cheyenne Mountain Conference Resort. It encompassed all guest rooms and meeting space, and included the construction of the new Quail Creek Lodge, with 40 guest rooms and three meeting rooms, each offering 400 to 800 square feet of space. The Centennial Ballroom was expanded to 4,100 square feet. The resort now has more than 40,000 square feet of meeting space.
Denver * The Adam's Mark Denver, three blocks from the convention center, opened a major expansion last August, increasing its guest-room count from 744 to 1,225. Convention facilities include 125,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit, and banquet space. The hotel now has three ballrooms.
* The 450-room Hyatt Regency Tech Center has completed a renovation, providing all guest rooms work stations with built-in modem ports and power strips, ergonomic chairs, and enhanced lighting. The ballroom was also renovated.
* The Hyatt Regency Denver has 41,000 square feet of meeting space and 511 newly renovated guest rooms.
* The Inverness Hotel & Golf Club last year completed a $3.5 million refurbishing, which included the hotel's 60,000-square-foot conference center.
* Hotel Monaco will open downtown in October with 189 luxury guest rooms, including 32 suites. Built in the 1918 Railway Exchange Building and the 1934 art moderne Title Building, the hotel will feature 3,800 square feet of conference/banquet space and two boardrooms for 15 people each.
* The Westin Westminster has broken ground for a 365-room hotel to open in February 2000 with a 50,000-square-foot conference center. It will be joined to a shopping and entertainment complex with a world-class ice skating rink and 20 movie theaters, and will be affiliated with Legacy Ridge Golf Course.
* A full-service, 200-room Marriott is under construction at Denver International Airport.
Durango * For small conferences and corporate retreats, Tall Timber offers one-and two-bedroom guest units. All are two-story accommodations with living room, fireplace, and wet bar. Tennis, hiking, white-water rafting, and fishing are at hand. There is an exercise room, a Finnish sauna, and a hot spa. Private helicopter tours are available. The resort can be reached aboard the vintage, narrow-gauge train from Durango, or via helicopter. The resort is six miles from the nearest road.
Estes Park * The Stanley Hotel & Conference Center offers 138 rooms and can accommodate groups of up to 300 people in its 18,000 square feet of meeting space. The resort completed a renovation of all guest and meeting rooms last fall. It is located near the town of Estes Park.
* Estes Park Conference Center has 30,000 square feet of meeting space an hour and a half from Denver International Airport.
Keystone * The self-contained Keystone Resort and Conference Center can accommodate up to 1,800 people for conferences. The $10 million, 32,500-square-foot conference center was completed in 1989 and includes a 16,000-square-foot ballroom, a 4,000-square-foot junior ballroom, breakout rooms, and banquet facilities. The additional 45,000 square feet of meeting space ranges from the Inn at Keystone, ideal for smaller groups, to the $6 million Outpost day lodge atop North Peak.
Silver Creek * The Inn at Silver Creek opened a new full-service restaurant and bar last year. Less than 80 miles from Denver, Silver Creek can accommodate up to 350 people for meetings.
Telluride * The Peaks Resort & Spa offers 8,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, including four meeting rooms and a large ballroom. The smallest room can accommodate from 50 to 75 people. The ballroom can fit 250 for a reception. There are 174 guest rooms and 28 suites. Ski-in/ski-out access to 1,050 acres of ski terrain is a highlight. The 42,000-square-foot Spa at The Peaks has 44 treatment rooms and an indoor climbing wall, and it just launched the "Next Level Spa" program, with a separate enclave of 16 guest rooms offering 24-hour spa access, and a spa concierge.
Vail/Beaver Creek * The ski-in/ski-out Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek is offering a hot-air balloon package and a llama trekking package this summer and fall. In ski season, the resort offers a "Ski with the Pros" program. The Hyatt has 295 guest rooms with 23,000 square feet of meeting space.
* The Vail Cascade Hotel & Club now offers on-site destination management services with one contact person and one master bill, and a list of 60 services available. The resort recently added outside tents with 4,800 square feet of area, accommodating 450 people for receptions. The tents can be heated during the fall and air conditioned in summer. The hotel has 26,000 square feet of meeting space in 23 meeting rooms. The Centennial Ballroom seats 275 people. There are 289 rooms and 28 suites.
* The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera has added 28 rooms, bringing the number of rooms to 56. Existing guest rooms and public areas were completely renovated. Last year, the Valley Course, designed by Tom Fazio, joined the Hale Irwin-designed Mountain Course. A Dave Pelz Short Course also opened in late 1997.
* The Sonnenalp Resort features two spas and its own 18-hole golf course. Its Bavaria Haus banquet and conference facility has seven new meeting rooms, patios and pool areas for receptions, and 88 suites, and can accommodate 300 people in its grand ballroom. The Swiss Haus has 57 hotel rooms and three suites.
Ward * Gold Lake Mountain Resort & Spa, west of Boulder, can accommodate up to 90 people for meetings. Lodging includes log and cedar cabins.
Getting There Aspen/Sardy Field, three miles from Aspen and eight miles from Snowmass, provides up to 280 flights per week. It is served by Aspen Mountain Air, United, Northwest and Northwest Airlink, TriSar, American, and Delta.
The $84 million Colorado Springs Airport opened in 1994, 10 miles and 20 minutes from downtown. It offers more than 100 flights daily, with nonstop flights from 30 cities.
The $4.2 billion Denver International Airport serves 110 U.S. cities with nonstop service. The airport is served by 24 carriers.
Telluride Airport is served by United/United Express and AmericaWest Express. Montrose Airport, 65 miles from Telluride is served by AmericaWest and Continental.
Tax and Money Matters Colorado levies a 7.3 percent state sales tax. In addition, guests pay an 11.8 percent room tax in Denver, two percent room tax in Colorado Springs, 8.2 percent in Aspen, and 8.5 percent in Vail.
Beth Richardson, corporate communications, Applied Insurance Research in Boston, planned a user's conference for 150 attendees this May in Colorado Springs. It was held at the Broadmoor hotel because the president of the company "had been there before and been very impressed with the property, and the friendliness of the staff."
Applied Insurance Research, an insurance consulting firm that markets software and services to the insurance and reinsurance industries to help companies assess their exposure to catastrophes, brought in experts in the field to talk about current trends in the industry and to hold training sessions for attendees, who came from the U.S., Europe, and Australia. The four-day conference included a golf(nongolfers were free to go off-property during the tournament to explore such Colorado Springs highlights as the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Garden of the Gods) and a hoe-down-themed cookout.
"Everything at the hotel was terrific," says Richardson. "Great. The conference staff was so professional, so accommodating. It was five-star service, but very friendly at the same time."
Aspen Chamber Resort Association/Aspen Central Reservations (970) 925-1940, (800) 26-ASPEN Fax: (970) 920-1173 www.aspen.com
Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau Pam Sherfesee, director of convention sales (719) 635-7506, ext. 134, (800) 888-4748, ext. 134 Fax: (719) 635-4968 www.coloradosprings-travel.com
Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Richard Scharf, sr. vp convention sales (800) 888-1990, (303) 892-1112 Fax: (303) 892-1636 www.denver.org
Summit County Chamber of Commerce (Breckenridge, Keystone, and Copper Mountain) (800) 530-3099, (970) 668-2051 Fax: (970) 668-1515 www.summitchamber.org
Snowmass Resort Association (800) 598-2006 Fax: (970) 923-5466 www.snowmassvillage.com
Telluride Visitors Service Marilyn Branch, director of guest services and group sales (970) 728-3041 (800) 525-3455, ext. 305 Fax: (970) 728-6475 www.tvs.org
Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau Renae Funke, associate director of sales vp of marketing and group sales (800) 775-8245, (970) 479-2360 Fax: (970) 479-2364 www.vail.net