By Marsha Wilson
Nestled in southwestern Colorado and surrounded by rugged peaks, Durango is home to some of the state’s best options for groups in the areas of attractive and functional meeting and event spaces and outstanding outdoor, historic and cultural attractions.
Places to Gather
Durango is the perfect destination for corporate retreats, company team-building adventures, and meetings of less than 200 people.
There is a variety of unique meeting spaces from state-of-the-art conference rooms available at DoubleTree by Hilton on the beautiful Animas River and the historic Strater Hotel downtown. For venues unique to this beautiful gem of the Southwest, consider Powerhouse Science Center or the Durango Arts Center.
Facilities range from historic hotels downtown and slopeside venues at Purgatory Resort to intimate spaces and inspiring larger spaces, both indoors and out. La Plata County Fairgrounds, in the heart of Durango, offers 10,000 square feet in the Exhibit Hall. Purgatory’s meeting spaces are available primarily June through October. Lovely small spaces include the Pavilion at Dalton Ranch and the Grange at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot.
As home to Fort Lewis College, Durango also has a college-town feel, offering a nice selection of conference rooms and food service on campus.
Business Meets Adventure
When we say business meets adventure, we mean it! There’s so much for groups to do, see and experience in Durango with group and team-building activities during each season. It’s easy to plan a successful and memorable meeting in Durango.
For example, groups that book Soaring Tree Top Adventures have the opportunity to bond in a unique way. The adrenaline of the heart-pounding activity and the ability for participants to encourage and challenge one another while out on a course with 27 ziplines make for some of the best and most memorable team bonding. Meeting planners can add Soaring Tree Top Adventures’ all-inclusive, first-class day of adventure into their group’s itinerary and be assured that every element of the guest experience will be managed with safety, professionalism and every detail in mind.
Horse Empower offers a special team-building program for personal development and cohort learning. Team members find out more about themselves and each other as they leave the office behind and step into a whole new environment interacting with horses. Horse Empower leverages Equine Assisted Learning in their workshops that build better teams. Horses give humans great insight into the meanings and nuances of body language and teach people to identify and change behavior patterns that limit trusting relationships. Not only will communication become more robust, problem-solving skills are strengthened and productivity increased.
Downtown Durango is a National Historic District that overflows with historic hotels, award-winning restaurants, breweries, art galleries, museums and boutiques. Nearby, the rugged San Juan National Forest offers hundreds of miles of world-class mountain biking and hiking trails, rock climbing routes, and skiing options as well as fishing and boating on the Gold Medal waters of the Animas River.
Half the fun of traveling is being able to interact with the people who live, work and play in the place you’re visiting, and there’s no better way to find locals at their most relaxed than to seek out the places where they like to eat and drink. Durango restaurants come in all styles and price ranges, with eateries like Eolus with its lovely rooftop dining option, Red Snapper for great seafood and Carver Brewing Company serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. James Ranch offers the best of farm-to-table cuisine served with a beautiful sweeping view of the Animas Valley.
For fun day trips, charter a private car with an outside viewing platform on the historic 1880s Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for breathtaking views and an Old World atmosphere. Or visit archeological wonders and ancient cave dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Transportation and Helping Hands
The Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO) is the regional airport in the Four Corners area, offering daily commercial service from American Airlines and United Airlines. Direct flights to Denver, Phoenix and Dallas fly all year round, and there are seasonal summer flights to and from Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. One major bonus is you can arrive at your destination and be at a meeting or at play within half an hour. If driving, Durango is a 3.5-hour drive from Albuquerque and a 6-hour drive from Denver for example.
Planning a meeting takes a great deal of time and effort, and Visit Durango is available to help streamline the RFP process by identifying appropriate hotels and venues based on a group’s requirements to share information about all the various opportunities to integrate local experiences, food and brews.
Marsha Wilson is an experienced destination marketing sales professional who loves designing one-of-a-kind experiences to wow meeting attendees to Durango.
Photos courtesy of Durango Area Tourism Office.