Spas are hot across the nation, and the resorts of the Rocky Mountains are taking advantage of the trend. The older resorts of the area grew from spas. Geothermal springs created naturally heated pools, water rushing up through mineralized rock created mineral springs, and water bubbling up from limestone aquifers as carbonated water was thought to be medicinal. From Colorado Springs to Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs, and Park City, resorts sprang up. In the past 10 years, modern spas have opened across the nation, but those most true to the old health spas are still found in mountain hotels, fed by mountain springs.
Denver's 1892 Brown Palace Hotel is tossing out most of its retail outlets to construct a $2 million spa, set to open at the end of this year.
New behemoths on Colorado's Front Range — the Colorado Convention Center expansion and Hyatt Convention Center Hotel (to open this December) — are attracting new hotels, restaurants, retail, and attractions.
Coming down the pike are enough facilities to give downtown Denver about 7,200 rooms by 2007, a 35 percent increase over 2004. In addition to the Hyatt, high-end facilities include a 120-room, 50-story Four Seasons hotel-condo project. A Hampton Inn is planned for 18th and Sherman streets in the former Columbine Building, and a new Residence Inn by Marriott will open at the corner of 18th and Champa.
In Vail, efforts to start on the conference center authorized by voters in November 2002 hit snags. Some critics say the roof design looks like a mushroom. And some town council members feel parking and lodging are already overcrowded in ski season, and a facility that could be used only for the other half of the year is unwise.
Salt Palace Convention Center has laid out a $52 million plan to enlarge the facility by 40 percent by mid-August 2006. Expansion plans call for an additional 145,000 square feet of exhibit space and more than 72,000 square feet of new meeting room space. When completed, the Palace will offer 515,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 125,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 45,000-square-foot ballroom.
Big Sky Resort in Montana broke ground this summer on Village Center One, which will add to the current pedestrian plaza and expand the retail and dining options at Big Sky. Scheduled to open winter 2006-2007, the four-story building, located just north of the Snowcrest Lodge, will also offer 49 entertainment suites, which will include conference/dining table, fireplace, workstation, entertainment kitchenette, and high-speed Internet access. Additional expanded luxury suites in the tower ends of the building will accommodate larger groups.
The latest Dolce conference resort, Zermatt Resort & Spa in Midway, is set to open in early 2006. The property will include Hotel der Baer, with 226 rooms, and the Chateau Hotel Villas, with 126 apartments. The Matterhorn Conference Centre will have 64,000 square feet of meeting space. A spa and nine-hole golf course will be part of the layout.
Park City's five-diamond, 170-room Stein Eriksen Lodge opened its Glitretind Restaurant and wine cellar and completed a two-year refurbishment.
Snowbird Resort and Conference Center has expanded its meeting space. It now has 500 guest rooms and 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
In Boulder, the St. Julien Hotel opened in March with 201 rooms and suites, 23,000 square feet of meeting space, and a 10,000-square-foot spa.
The 1,100-room, $286 million Hyatt Denver Convention Center Hotel should open in December with ballrooms of 30,000 and 15,000 square feet.
St. Regis Resort Aspen completed a $37 million project, adding the 15,000-square-foot Remede Spa, the first resort spa in Aspen. The St. Regis Aspen has 179 guest rooms, including 20 new suites.
Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs is undergoing a $43 million, 70,000-square-foot expansion of convention space, set to open in October. The addition will bring total meeting space to about 184,000 square feet.
Copper Mountain's meeting facility, Village Square, with 3,500 square feet of space, had a major facelift and reopened as the Pine Meeting Rooms at Village Square.
Breckenridge Lodging & Hospitality offers more than 45,000 square feet of meeting space in three properties: The Village at Breckenridge Hotel and Resort, Great Divide Lodge, and Mountain Thunder lodge. Groups of up to 600 can be accommodated.
ASK THE CVB
Aspen Chamber Resort Association
Total Hotel Tax: 11.5%
Colorado Springs CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 11%
Denver Metro CVB
(800) 480-2010; www.denver.org
Total Hotel Tax: 13%
Snowmass Village Resort Association
(800) 598-2006; Fax: (970) 923-5466
Total Hotel Tax: 15.5%
Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Assoc.
Total Hotel Tax: 14.4%
Telluride & Mountain Village CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 10.5% in Telluride and 11.5% in Mountain Village
Vail Valley Tourism & Conv. Bureau
(800) 775-8245; www.vailalways.com
Total Hotel Tax: 15.3%
Big Sky Chamber of Commerce
(800) 945-4111, (406) 995-3000
Salt Lake City CVB
(801) 521-2822; www.visitsaltlake.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11.35%
Park City CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 10.25%
(801) 534-1779; www.skiutah.com
Salt Lake City's Temple Square, founded in 1847, is the city's central block. All addresses are numbered from this point outward so that visitors can tell how close to the square they are by the numbering on businesses and homes.
Denver, beginning in 2006, will have a spate of hotel rooms opening downtown, and the Metro Denver CVB predicts there will be higher vacancies and lower room rates for at least a few years afterward. Now, don't all jump at once or you'll negate the advantage.
Mountain meeting schedules often start early and split the day into two work sessions interrupted by play time, with no lingering over meals. The typical day:
7:30 a.m. Breakfast
8 a.m. Working session with coffee break
11:30 a.m. Lunch
11:45 a.m. Mountain activities in winter or summer
4:30 p.m. Group relaxation/cocktails in lodge
6 p.m. Dinner
7-9 p.m. General session or second work session — followed by social activities for those with energy left.
When it opened in December 2004, the expanded Colorado Convention Center almost doubled its complement of rentable space, from 293,000 to 584,000 square feet of continuous exhibit space on one level; 100,000 square feet of meeting space on one level; two ballrooms; and a 5,000-seat amphitheater. The $268 million expansion's goal is to attract more conventions, not necessarily bigger ones. Of course, huge citywides are more than welcome in Denver, and the center can accommodate groups of 8,000 to 10,000. But the intent was to make it possible to hold more simultaneous conventions. The expansion makes it possible for setup and tear-down to go on almost invisibly behind the scenes while another convention is in-house. One hotel owner projects that by 2009, the number of Denver room nights sparked by the convention center will triple to 97,177 from the current 31,650.
Chalet Day Johns is an 8,100-square-foot private home with eight bedrooms and nine baths that has just been purchased by Utah's Alta Resort. There are two living rooms and a large dining room for meetings of 25 to 50 people. Chef service is optional. (801) 742-2097; email@example.com
Zach's Cabin, in Beaver Creek's Bachelor Gulch, offers views of Colorado's Gore Range, vaulted ceilings, and a large stone fireplace. During the summer, Zach's Cabin is available for groups as large as 100 in the main dining room and 50 in Gunder's dining room downstairs. (970) 845-6575; http://beavercreek.snow.com/info/winter/rst.din.zachs.asp
Colorado is home to more than 80 brew pubs. The Rock Bottom Brewery on Denver's 16th Street Mall serves up local beers in one of the area's largest indoor/outdoor cafes. Jazz ensembles perform on Wednesday and Friday nights. Rock Bottom provides private space for up to 200 people, as well as several semi-private areas. Groups can rent the entire pub, which seats 350. (303) 534-7616; www.rockbottom.com