Rocky Mountains, blue skies, and western friendliness are practically a Colorado promise. Planners can also count on an appealing mix of luxury resorts and rustic ranches, modern cities and quaint mountain getaways from this diverse and well-loved state. Recently, the area has seen exciting new developments--particularly in the booming Mile-High City of Denver--that make it even more enticing for meetings. It's no wonder that for six years running--as long as Medical Meetings' Physician Preferences in CME Survey has been in existence--Colorado has finished in the top ten among states preferred as destinations for medical conferences.

Visitors to bustling Denver, where the population has grown 350,000 in the past five years, enjoy a renaissance of new entertainment and recreational options. The $100 million Denver Pavilions retail and entertainment complex, with a two-square-block open-air design, debuted in November in the heart of downtown. This fall will see the grand opening of the Pepsi Center, a $160 million sports facility, the latest addition to what residents proudly call the "Number One Sports City in America." In addition to approximately 20,000 seats for the NHL Colorado Avalanche, NBA Denver Nuggets, concerts, and other special events, the Pepsi Center will offer 95 luxury suites on two levels with business services such as modems, computers, fax machines, audiovisual equipment, and videoconferencing. The Center is within walking distance of downtown hotels and restaurants.

If you still need to blow off some steam, notoriously fun-loving Denver is home to the only theme park in America located in a downtown urban area: Six Flags Elitch Gardens, which combines thrill rides with formal flower gardens, lakes, and lagoons. The park added $30 million in new rides over the past two years and continues to see improvements in 1999.

Denver's newest attraction, Colorado's Ocean Journey, opened in May on the north side of the Platte River across from Elitch Gardens. The $93 million project will be the only aquarium in the Rocky Mountain states. It shows water and aquatic life in all its forms, from the seas of the world to the ocean's headwaters in the Colorado mountains.

And outside Denver, meetings continue to be exceedingly popular in the picturesque resort towns of Aspen, Vail, Keystone, Breckenridge, and Telluride, the latter of which premiered a new conference center in June.

Aspen hotel news * At the base of Aspen Mountain, The Gant is a 123-condominium resort that includes a recently expanded conference center, complete with more than 5,000 square feet of indoor and 3,516 square feet of outdoor function space.

important info Aspen Chamber Resort Association

(970) 925-1940. (800) 26-ASPEN

Fax: (970) 920-1173

www.aspen.com

Total Hotel Tax: 8.2%

Boulder hotel news * The new centrally located Boulder Marriott has 155 rooms, 3,600 square feet of meeting space, banquet and catering services, and a private concierge level.

important info Boulder CVB

(303) 442-2911, (800) 444-0447

Fax: (303) 938-8837

http://visitor.boulder.co.us

Total Hotel Tax: 12.96%

Breckenridge/Keystone hotel news * The 208-room Great Divide Lodge (formerly The Breckenridge Hilton) is undergoing a $4 million refurbishment. The Lodge features 14,000 square feet of versatile meeting and event space for up to 400 reception-style, as well as break-out rooms for smaller groups of 10 to 30.

* Last July, Vail Resorts purchased The Village at Breckenridge Resort for $24 million, including the 60-room Village Hotel, the 71-room Breckenridge Mountain Lodge, and two management companies renting 30,000-plus square feet of convention and meeting space. The property is the only one linking the town's Main Street with the resort's famous skiing.

* The 152-room Keystone Lodge completed a $4.6 million renovation in June 1998, which included a redesign of its loft suites and in-room technology advancements such as dual-line telephones and data ports.

important info Summit County Chamber of Commerce

(Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper Mountain)

(970) 668-2051, (800) 530-3099

Fax: (970) 668-1515

www.summitchamber.org

Total Hotel Tax: 10.4%

Colorado Springs hotel news * The Broadmoor Hotel, a 3,000-acre property with 700 rooms and suites plus 115,000 square feet of meeting space, completed a $10.4 million renovation over the winter. This includes extensive guest room refurbishments, the creation of larger hospitality suites, and improvements to the Spa and Fitness Center and Penrose Room restaurant and lounge. The Broadmoor is the longest holder of the Mobil Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards.

* In March, the new 154-room Hilton Garden Inn opened, the 25th Hilton Garden Inn hotel to open. It has 1,800 square feet of meeting space, and a 24-hour business center.

important info Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau

(719) 635-7506; 877-745-377

Fax: (719) 635-4968

www.coloradosprings-travel.com

Total Hotel Tax: 8%

Denver hotel news Hotel development continues to surge in Denver, which now boasts 5,286 rooms downtown and a total of 23,711 rooms in the metro area.

* Hotel Monaco opened downtown in October, offering a luxury hotel with 189 guest rooms, including 32 suites. Built in the completely renovated historic 1918 Railway Exchange Building and the 1934 art moderne Title Building, the four-star hotel has a dramatic main lobby distinguished by a multitiered, 23-foot-high, hand-painted ceiling. The hotel features 3,800 square feet of conference/banquet facilities and two fully equipped board rooms for 15 people each.

* The 116-room Teatro, a Wyndham Grand Heritage Hotel located in a landmark downtown building, offers a fax, copier, scanner, and printer in every guest room. The hotel has two meeting rooms for up to 88 people.

* The 1,225-room Adam's Mark Hotel is adjacent to the new Denver Pavilions, which includes a Hard Rock Cafe, a Virgin Records megastore, a Barnes & Noble superstore, and a Wolfgang Puck Cafe, as well as a 15-screen movie theater and some 30 other shops. Three blocks from the convention center, the hotel has three ballrooms--one measuring 30,000 square feet--and 125,000 square feet of meeting, exhibit, and banquet space.

* Doubletree Hotels--with five locations throughout Colorado including Denver, many with scenic views--now offers a free welcome reception for groups booking 50 room nights by September 7, 1999.

* The 181-room Marriott Courtyard hotel opened downtown in April 1998. Built in the historic Joslin's building on the 16th Street Mall, the property has an atrium lobby with fireplaces.

* Other downtown hotels under construction at press time include the $33 million Off Larimer Inn, which will provide 176 rooms near Larimer Square and the Denver Performing Arts Complex; and the 120-room Denver Hotel, located in the heart of LoDo (lower downtown).

* Denver Metro area hotel development includes the Westin Westminster, a 350-room hotel to open in February 2000. Featuring a 50,000-square-foot conference center, the hotel will be part of the new Westminster Downtown Center and will be attached to a shopping and entertainment complex offering a world-class ice skating rink and 20 movie theaters. The hotel will be affiliated with Legacy Ridge Golf Course.

* Nearby, the Omni Interlocken Hotel and Conference Resort opens in July. The five-star, 392-room resort on Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder will be adjacent to the 27-hole Interlocken golf course.

* Denver International Airport continues to boom as does hotel development in the DIA corridor, with a total of 3,092 rooms now available or under construction, including a full-service, 225-room Marriott. An $87 million, 526-room Westin will open in summer 2001, connected to the main terminal and offering 30,000 square feet of conference space.

important info Colorado Convention Center

(303-640-8000

After more than a year of study, a task force has concluded that the CCC should be doubled in size, from 290,000 to 580,000 square feet of exhibit space, all on one contiguous level. Recommendations include doubling the 65,000 square feet of meeting space, adding a new 20,000-square-foot ballroom to complement the existing 35,000-square-foot ballroom, and creating a 1,000-space parking garage. If approved by voters this November, construction could begin next summer, with opening slated for the winter of 2002 to 2003. A local developer plans to build a 1,000-room headquarters hotel across the street once expansion is approved.

Denver Metro CVB

(303) 892-1112, (800) 888-1990

Fax: (303) 892-1636

www.denver.org

Estes Park hotel news * The Stanley Hotel & Conference Center, a recently restored 1909 building, offers 133 rooms and can accommodate groups of up to 300 people in its 18,000 square feet of meeting space. Located in the mountains near the town of Estes Park, 78 miles northwest of Denver, the resort completed a full renovation of all guest and meeting rooms in 1997.

Telluride hotel news * The Lodge at Mountain Village, a Wyndham condominium hotel project with a log-and-stone design, opened in June with a 27,000-square-foot main lodge, 85 condominium residences, and 10 cottages. The Lodge offers valet and con-cierge services, a pool and health club, and two 1,200-square-foot meeting rooms. Guests are entitled to services and amenities at The Peaks, another Wyndham property, and shuttle service is provided.

* Nearby in the Mountain Village core, the new Inn at Lost Creek has the feel of a mountain retreat. The 32 residences feature hand-crafted furnishings, stone fireplaces, and mountain-view balconies.

important info Telluride Conference Center

888-705-7747

Opened in June adjacent to the Telluride Golf Course in the heart of Mountain Village, the 23,000-square-foot building, perched at 9,500 feet, accommodates 550 people in the main ballroom and can host up to three groups of 200 simultaneously in the smaller break-out rooms. The center has AV and projection capabilities, high-speed communication access, private office space, and full-service kitchen facilities for large banquets. On-site concierge and conference planning services are available. A free gondola service connects to Telluride.

Telluride Visitors Service

(970) 728-3041, (888) 783-0257

Fax: (970) 728-6475

www.tvs.org

Total Hotel Tax: 10.5% (Telluride), 12.36% (Village)

Vail Valley/Beaver Creek hotel news * The ski-in/ski-out Lodge at Vail, with 117 hotel rooms and condominium units, has added a new $15 million wing, including 19 guest rooms and suites and a 6,000-square-foot ballroom.

* Vail Cascade Hotel & Club offers a 26,000-square-foot conference center with 289 newly decorated guest rooms and 63 condominiums.

* The 349-room Marriott's Mountain Resort at Vail has seen more than $12 million in recent upgrades.

* At the foot of Beaver Creek Mountain, the Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek provides 295 rooms and 23,000 square feet of meeting space.

important info Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau

(970) 476-6008, (800) 525-3875

Fax: (970) 476-6008

www.visitvailvalley.com

Total Hotel Tax: 8.5%