Improvements to Denver's Colorado Convention Center, the new Hyatt convention hotel, and a bigger budget for marketing the city helped make 2006 a record year for metro-area meetings. As a result of this — and the choice of Denver to play host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention — the downtown hotel market is in the midst of a major building boom. The catalyst was when the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Denver took the lead in raising room rates, making Denver feasible for several luxury hotels that are now under construction and prompting existing properties to spiff up. With a Four Seasons rising at Arapahoe and 14th Street; a $75 million rehab of the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel into the Ritz-Carlton, Denver; and an upgrade to the already luxurious Magnolia Hotel, the Queen City of the Plains is taking on first-class finery, so meeting planners are going to need heavy negotiating skills unless their groups are willing to pay top dollar.
North along the Front Range, developer McWhinney Enterprises in March unveiled plans for Grand Station at Centerra, a million-square-foot, mixed-use development near Fort Collins in Loveland. Grand Station will include three hotels; retail, restaurant, and entertainment space; office and medical space; and 160 residences. The project is expected to open in fall 2009.
In the mountains, Aspen, Snowmass, and Vail are building, but so are Telluride and Durango. Aspen Groups, a new arm of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, is trying to ease the town's challenge of being perceived as an over-glamorized playground for the rich and famous by making planners and attendees feel welcome with services that include arranging bulk air, lodging, lift tickets, ground transportation, meeting space, and activities. In Vail, the free-standing conference center, long discussed, is off the table due to local opposition. Meanwhile, in Telluride, Capella Hotels and Resorts has been selected to operate a luxury hotel and residential property in Mountain Village. Capella Telluride will consist of 100 rooms and 48 residential units. Amenities will include a spa, pool, fitness center, ice skating rink, restaurants, and entertainment and retail facilities, with construction scheduled for completion in the fourth quarter of 2008.
Ask the CVB
Colorado Tourism Office
Aspen Chamber Resort Association (and Aspen Groups)
Total Hotel Tax: 9.6%
Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
Total Hotel Tax: 14.85%
Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau
Total Hotel Tax: 15.9%
The Breckenridge (Colorado) Golf Clubhouse (seasonally, the Breckenridge Nordic Center) has a restaurant and two function rooms that are ideal for cocktails and dinner following a golfor a warm-up after cross-country skiing at a winter meeting. It can seat up to 150 people. The newest Breckenridge 9 holes, the 2001 Elk Course, completes the Jack Nicklaus 27-hole layout with awesome terrain and level challenges. (970) 453-9104
Founded in 1936, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is a privately funded, nonprofit art museum, performing arts theater, and arts education center. A multimillion-dollar building initiative that has renovated and expanded the main building opened to the public in August. Indoor and outdoor event space can accommodate 10 to 400 people. (719) 477-4363; email@example.com
One of Denver's most popular places to hold a party is Wynkoop Brewing Company. Denver's original brewpub is housed in an 1899 building with hardwood floors and tin ceilings and serves up not just brew, but steaks, spaghetti, and other Western grub. Function rooms can seat 20 in a private pool hall or 300 upstairs. (303) 297-9999; www.wynkoop.com/banquets.html
Denver and the Front Range
The Curtis Hotel debuted in January in downtown Denver with 336 rooms and 19,000-square-feet of meeting space.
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver is expected to open this fall in the Denver Place Tower with 202 guest rooms and suites and 13,000 square feet of meeting space.
Four Seasons Hotel and Residences in Denver will have 230 hotel rooms, 102 private residences, and 16,000 square feet of meeting space. The $300 million project should be done by the end of 2009.
The 240-room Courtyard by Marriott Denver Cherry Creek opened in March. Its five meeting rooms have 6,000 square feet of space.
In a $15 million renovation at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, eight miles south of downtown, the Rocky Mountain Event Center is being redesigned into a multi-use hall with a state-of-the-art sound system. The health club, public spaces, and the restaurants are also being upgraded. The city's Denver Light Rail recently opened a station adjacent to the property, providing direct access to downtown Denver.
The Wyndham Colorado Springs was rebranded as Colorado Springs Marriott this past spring, following a renovation of all 309 guest rooms and its 23,000 square feet of meeting space.
The 98-room Aspen Meadows Resort completed its expansion in March. The biggest addition is the 22,000-square-foot Doerr-Hosier Conference Center, providing seating for 400 people. All guest rooms have been upgraded.
The Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa in Telluride's Mountain Village is spending $60 million to convert its 174 guest rooms into a condominium hotel with 140 studios and one- and two- bedroom suites. The conversion will be complete by December.
Lumière, a $25 million condo hotel, is set to open in Telluride in early 2008.
Construction began this spring on the $200 million Rosewood Telluride Resort. The ski-in-ski-out property will feature 75 resort guest rooms and 65 residences, and a spa and fitness center.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square is scheduled to open in December with 36 guest rooms, 50 lock-off condo guest accommodations, 70 residences and penthouses, and a spa. There will also be a conference center with a ballroom, meeting rooms, and pre-function space.
The 62-room Tivoli Lodge at Vail reopened this past November after a two-year rebuilding process. It has conference space for up to 55 people.
Vail Plaza Hotel & Club is set to open this summer with 100 guest rooms, 38 condo units, the Sorrento Spa, and 7,000 square feet of meeting space in its conference center, which will be able to accommodate up to 350 people. The resort is a $150 million redevelopment of the former Vail Village Inn.
The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, with ski-in, ski-out access, has recently finished a $20 million renovation.
The Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa has completed a $2.5 million renovation of its 8,300-square-foot grand ballroom and pre-function area. The project also included technical upgrades, such as a new state-of-the-art sound system in the ballroom.