The 40-foot giant blue bear peering in the windows of the expanded Colorado Convention Center is attesting to its success. As “chief sidewalk superintendent,” the sculpture has watched all the plans come together to become the convention center envisioned from the start.
Nearly a year after its reopening, the center was meeting or exceeding expectations in almost all operations, according to Richard Scharf, Denver Metro CVB president and CEO. Ten months after it opened, the center had 20 conventions booked for 2011.
Across the street, the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Denver, which opened this past December, has proven to be a stimulus for the Denver-area hotel market, and is as successful as the center itself. Even before it opened, the convention hotel had booked $100 million in business through 2013, with most of it arriving from 2006 through 2010. General Manager John Schafer says his hotel raises the bar for Denver hotels. The Adam's Mark, still the metro area's largest, has spent millions on upgrades so that it won't be outshone. The Hyatt Regency has also sparked the development of some top luxury hotels, such as the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, that Denver has not attracted in the past (see Facilities Update).
But this all comes at a price. The Hyatt has helped push up Denver hotel rates, which had averaged under $150 a night. The new hotel's rack rate is roughly $200, and Denver's lodging tax has increased by 1 percent to 14.85 percent.
The Denver Art Museum will launch its expanded complex with a grand opening October 7. The 146,000-square-foot addition includes a 285-seat auditorium.
In Utah, more than 600 inches of snow blessed the state with its third consecutive record-setting winter season. Mountain resorts are adding activities to emphasize their summer and fall seasons.
People are finding that mountain communities such as Park City, Deer Valley, Sundance, Snowbird, and Mineral Basin have more than snow sports. These resort areas offer golf, mountain biking, ATV tours, and summer concerts, not to mention new thrill rides, “zipline” rides, and scenic lifts coming on line.
The Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City debuted a $58 million expansion in August, enlarging the facility by 40 percent. The Salt Palace now offers 515,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space and 164,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom and 66 meeting rooms.
A Four Seasons Denver hotel and condos is a step closer to reality in downtown. As proposed, it will include 140 private residences on upper floors and 230 hotel rooms and suites. Construction started this summer, with an opening now planned for mid-2008.
The Broadmoor Event Center Complex in Colorado Springs reopened in fall 2005. Broadmoor Hall is a renovated 60,000-square-foot facility. The area of International Center is 20,000 square feet, and Colorado Hall is 18,000 square feet. Planners can also choose from 58 rooms seating from 20 to 1,300 people.
Midnight Rose Hotel & Casino in Cripple Creek has converted 50 of its hotel rooms into meeting space for conventions, and 80 guest rooms will be built in a new adjacent building.
In Vail, developers broke ground last December on the Four Seasons Resort and Residences, the hotel chain's first venture into Colorado, soon to be joined by a Denver Four Seasons near the Colorado Convention Center. The $200 million Vail project, anticipated to open in June 2008, will have 120 hotel rooms, 16 private residences, and 19 fractional units, as well as more than 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa completed a $2 million renovation of its conference center in 2002. There are 22 dedicated conference rooms, suites, and ballrooms providing 50,000 square feet of meeting space, and two heated, seasonal pavilions.
Scheduled to open in December, the Vail Plaza Hotel and Club, in Vail's pedestrian village, will offer 100 rooms and 38 suites and penthouses. In addition to two gourmet restaurants, a bar, a spa and fitness center, and an outdoor heated pool, the club will have a conference center that can accommodate groups of up to 350.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek kicked off a $25 million-plus renovation in April to upgrade lobby and meeting rooms, add air conditioning, overhaul the spa, and build 15 shared-ownership residences.
John Q. Hammons has announced plans to break ground next March on a 10-story, 320-room Renaissance hotel in Colorado Springs, scheduled to open in spring 2009 with 80,000 square feet of meeting space.
In June, Copper Mountain Resort Conference Center opened 18,000 square feet of meeting space in Copper Pavilion to add to its overall 68,000 square feet of conference space.
Opened in May, Zermatt Resort is already IACC-accredited. It has 226 guest rooms in Hotel de Baer and 26 condo-style villas. Its Mountain Rose Spa includes a fitness center, swim-through indoor/outdoor pool, and alpine-style treatments. Matterhorn Conference Center has 28,000 square feet of meeting space in 24 rooms and an exhibition center with drive-in access, sport-court flooring, and ceilings high enough for Shaq to sink a 3-pointer — or for a multistory exhibit. Both CMP and a la carte pricing are available.
Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City plans a $7 million renovation to expand the Glitretind restaurant and Troll Hallen lounge as well as add a grand staircase in the main lobby. In spring 2007, four new junior suites will open.
Ask the CVB
Aspen Chamber Resort Association
Total Hotel Tax: 11.5%
Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau
Total Hotel Tax: 11%
Denver Metro CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 14.85%
Telluride & Mountain Village CVB
(888) 605.2578, (970) 728-3041
Total Hotel Tax: 10.5% in Telluride and 11.5% in Mountain Village
Vail Valley Tourism and Convention Bureau
(800) 338-2315, (970) 476-1000
Total Hotel Tax: 15.3%
Salt Lake City CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 11.35%
Park City CVB
Total Hotel Tax: 10.25%
Taking flatlanders to the mountains? Mountain hotels and conference space with in-room humidifiers help the folks from the East Coast, South, and Midwest acclimate to the thin, dry air of the Rockies, which means they'll be more productive.
The new Denver Hyatt's guest room rates are having an elevator effect on the rates of other chain hotels and are bringing in some very high-end properties, but there are existing hotels downtown or under construction in Denver with lower rates. The Residence Inn at 18th and Champa streets opened in January, and a Hilton Garden Inn is on its way right next to the convention center.
Some potential attendees might demand that your group honor a boycott of Kanab, Utah, the hotel-filled gateway to Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks as well as to houseboat trips and other group events on Lake Powell. After Kanab's City Council passed a resolution favoring the “natural family,” consisting of “a working husband, a stay-at-home wife, and a full quiver of children,” offended groups announced a travel boycott that has been endorsed and publicized nationwide by syndicated travel guru Arthur Frommer.
How about exclusive use of a luxury ghost town? All of Dunton Hot Springs Resort's guest cabins are 19th-century log buildings. The old saloon and dance hall, Pony Express stop, dining room, and library provide meeting rooms for up to 35 people. The resort, hot springs, waterfalls, fly-fishing, exploring the canyons for Anasazi ruins, and even the technological meeting paraphernalia can be all yours. It's about an hour's drive from Telluride in southwestern Colorado. (970) 882-4800; www.duntonhotsprings.com 
Hotel Columbia, a 31-room boutique hotel at the foot of Telluride's gondola, houses the Cosmopolitan Restaurant and Tasting Cellar, where three dining rooms and a variety of food options allow groups to tailor their banquets. In the Tasting Cellar, 12 to 40 people can have a tasting event. The Patio holds up to 22 people. The fine-dining Cosmopolitan Restaurant holds up to 75. (970) 728-1292; www.cosmotelluride.com 
McCune Mansion in Salt Lake City, a block from the Utah capital, was built by a mining magnate's family and restored in 2001. Twenty-one rooms display ornate marble, millwork, crystal shipped in 1901 from Europe, and elaborate painted ceilings. The first-floor foyer, drawing and sitting rooms, and gallery can accommodate up to 200 people for a reception or dinner. Second-floor living spaces function as meeting rooms and a boardroom with Internet capability. Third-floor gilded ballrooms, an English hunting room, and a turret room offer a magical ambience for parties and special events. (801) 531-8866; www.mccunemansion.com 
Ogden, Utah, offers some unusual activities for meeting and incentive groups. Most U.S. attendees see curling only in the Winter Olympic Games and have never tried it. Ogden's curling experts can teach the finer points of the game at the Ice Sheet, home of the 2002 Games competition. (866) 867-8824; www.ogdencvb.org