Despite isolated reports of snow in the Rocky Mountains in mid-June, the mountains of the West are incomparable sites for holding a summer or fall event. Abloom with wildflowers and tumbling streams and not yet crowded with skiers and spandex, the mountains are off their high-season prices and have more space to accommodate meetings and incentives.
A growing Salt Lake City downtown has led to a new proposal for a 1,000-room hotel next to the Salt Palace that could cost $300 million. Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau President Scott Beck says, “Without a convention center hotel, we're just a little bit hampered in those efforts to grow the convention business in Salt Lake.” The proposed hotel would have 1,000 guest rooms, easily the biggest hotel in the city.
City Creek Center, to open in 2012, is sited on 20 acres in the heart of Salt Lake City. When complete in 2012, it will encompass 900,000 square feet of retail space in an outdoor pedestrian shopping mall as well as 115 apartments, office space in eight buildings, and about 600 condominiums in five residential towers.
Park City has more than 25 meeting and convention properties, with 3,000 rooms, and can accommodate groups as small as 10 or as large as 700.
Denver updated its downtown hotels in a great flurry before the Democratic National Convention and buffed the city up until it shone. It still does. The 16th Street Mall was polished this past year with a $25 million renovation of the Denver Pavilions shopping area. The renovations include new, energy-efficient escalators accessed from the 16th Street Mall, signage along 16th Street, elevator upgrades, lighting, and landscaping. Improvements to the Pavilions' Glenarm Street side provide valet service and a pedestrian crosswalk.
- Aspen's Little Nell will be closed for renovations to its guest rooms and corridors beginning September 7, reopening December 1, 2009.
- The new 126-room Limelight Lodge has 1,776 square feet of event space in the Snowflake Room, a 5,000-square-foot Living Room where two-story windows overlook Aspen Mountain, Ajax Terrace, and Shadow Mountain Terrace. It also has some of the most affordable prices in town.
- Aloft Denver International Airport opened in December 2008 in Gateway Park. The $25 million property has 144 guest rooms, 1,150 square feet of meeting space, and a pool and fitness facility. Officials cut the ribbon in April 2009 on the Aloft Broomfield-Denver, a 139-room hotel. The new hotel has 7,555 square feet of meeting space and is built above Main Street retail outlets and restaurants. It is close to the Broomfield Event Center.
- Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel, Spa & Conference Center held its grand opening in mid-May, when it showed off 80,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The 263-suite hotel is next to the Budweiser Events Center.
- Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has been hard at work on a $70 million renovation of the 1,225-room Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, which has 46 meeting rooms encompassing 133,000 square feet of function space. The renovation includes the hotel's lobby and guest rooms.
- Associated Luxury Hotels International has added the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa in Denver to its membership. ALHI, which includes such other notable hotels as the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, cites the Brown's 12 luxurious meeting rooms with more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space.
- The 100-room Capella Telluride opened in February and debuted its spa in March 2009. The Idarado Ballroom and Jasper Room offer 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Opened in time for Thanksgiving 2008, Lumière is a hotel for the finest small incentive. With just 30 units of studio to four-bedroom accommodations, it has good ski-in/ski-out access, gathering space, and such first-class amenities as complimentary breakfast served in bed.
- The upscale 45-room Osprey at Beaver Creek opened in December 2008. Formerly the Inn at Beaver Creek, the hotel recently saw a $7 million transformation.
- The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek opened at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain in September 2008 with 289 guest accommodations ranging from studios to three-bedroom units. Amenities include the Spa Anjali, Avondale restaurant, and 4,000 square feet of meeting space.
- Opening in November in Park City, The St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, nestled slopeside in Deer Valley, will have 181 guest rooms and 14,500 square feet of meeting space (7,500 square feet of it outdoors and available for both winter and summer use). Also on site is a 3,300-square-foot athletic club and the 14,000-square-foot Remède Spa. If you want to bypass the private access road with views of the Wasatch Range, you can plan a grand entrance to the resort for your attendees via an Old-World-style funicular, a luxurious tram car that climbs 500 vertical feet.
- In Provo an 80,000-square-foot convention center with a ballroom that would hold up to 1,800 people has been proposed and is under study.
- After a $9 million renovation of the lobby and 515 rooms, the Salt Lake City Marriott Downtown is sitting pretty across the street from the Salt Palace Convention Center.
A citywide carbon-offset program in Aspen allows meeting planners to calculate their event's energy use at www.aspenzgreen.com/offsets.cfm and purchase Canary Tags to offset the carbon footprint. Each $20 Canary Tag represents an offset of one ton of carbon monoxide through local renewable-energy efforts.
Heading to Colorado? Frontier Airlines makes its home there and gives your attendees a bonus if they register.
Let “Katharine,” an electronic concierge, guide your meeting planning in Colorado Springs at www.visitcos.com. She's named for Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote the words to “America, the Beautiful” after a trip to the top of Pikes Peak.