By Beth Buehler
Sometimes people think that tradeshows can only be held in cities, but in Colorado that is a tale just as tall as the Rocky Mountains that serve as a backdrop for much of the state. Here are some examples of where groups can host expos and meetings as well as deliver amazing experiences in destinations like Estes Park, Black Hawk, Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Snowmass and Telluride.
National Park, Casino and Hot Springs Backdrops
There are several outstanding mountain towns in Colorado that don’t have ski resorts but instead have their very own set of special features such as hot springs in Glenwood Springs, Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park and casinos in Black Hawk.
The iconic Hotel Colorado, opened 125 years ago, is Glenwood Springs’ full-service conference hotel with 127 guest rooms and suites and more than 9,000 square feet of meeting space, from intimate rooms to grand ballrooms.
The fairly new Estes Park Event Center features a two-story Grand Lobby, and just beyond are large picture windows with views of the 28,000-square-foot Multi-Purpose Event Hall below that can be used for tradeshows and any large gathering like car shows, concerts or sporting events. An added bonus is 1,000 square feet of meeting space on the second floor and a 19,000-square-foot pavilion and covered patio just steps away.
Ridgeline Hotel Estes Park and the Estes Park Conference Center provide additional options for tradeshow space locally, with the center featuring approximately 20,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space, with 12 meeting rooms including the 8,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and 3,600-square-foot Junior Ballroom. The Stanley Hotel meanwhile is a historic beauty with 13,000 square feet of indoor options and another 14,000 square feet of outdoor space. The largest venue at the hotel is 5,200 square feet, and a concert hall and pavilion add attractive possibilities.
Only 35 miles west of Denver in the small mountain town of Black Hawk, Ameristar Casino Resort Spa has 536 guestrooms and suites and 15,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor event space, including the 5,000-square-foot Summit Ballroom. A rooftop pool and five dining and entertainment venues provide plenty of fun after the work is done.
Ski Town Flair
Located at the base of Peak 9 at Breckenridge’s ski area, Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center has more than 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space spread across 26 rooms, with the larger of two ballrooms measuring 7,200 square feet. Accommodations range from hotel rooms to three-bedroom condominiums and specialty suites.
Like Beaver Run, Copper Mountain Resort can serve groups of up to 1,000. The 16,000-square-foot Copper Conference Center and adjacent 6,900-square-foot Jack’s Banquet Hall provide a range of options for tradeshows, all slopeside.
Crested Butte Mountain Resort features Mountaineer Square Conference Center at the ski area base and is located within The Lodge at Mountaineer Square that also features various sizes of condominiums to book. The center can host groups of up to 400 with more than 9,000 square feet of meeting space, including the 5,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and pre-function space that doubles as an art gallery. Elevation Hotel and Spa has an ideal slopeside location at CBMR along with a sizable outdoor patio and 21,000 square feet of event and meeting facilities indoors, which includes a 4,400-square-foot ballroom.
A comparable option farther north in Steamboat Springs is The Steamboat Grand, with more than 17,000 square feet of indoor function space conveniently located on one floor. The 5,500-square-foot ballroom works as exhibit space and can be divided into three sections for breakout sessions. The hotel offers an additional 10,000 square feet of outdoor space perfect for social events after business is done.
In Aspen, head straight to The St. Regis Aspen Resort for tradeshow hosting options within the 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor venues that includes 14 meeting spaces.
Vail and Beaver Creek have an abundance of hotels with conference/tradeshow space. Hotel Talisa Vail, formerly the Vail Cascade, recently reopened after a major multimillion-dollar renovation and has the most meeting space locally with more than 40,000 square feet. The property features 19 meeting spaces, the largest being just over 6,000 square feet.
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort has an impressive 21,000 square feet of meeting space spread across 21 rooms, including the 8,300-square-foot Grand Ballroom. Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail and The Sebastian – Vail both have 8,500 square feet of function space that includes ballrooms and smaller meeting space options. The Sonnenalp Hotel, nestled next to Gore Creek, has 127 guest rooms and suites and is slightly smaller with approximately 6,500 square feet of meeting space, which includes the 4,300-square-foot Grand Bavaria room.
In the Beaver Creek area, the slopeside Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa features more than 25,000 square feet of event space, including a 20,000-square-foot conference center with easy access to all sorts of outdoor pursuits just outside the door. The same is true for The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch with 13,000 square feet of function space that includes the 7,100-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Ballroom, which is ideal for tradeshows and other large events. The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley is Silver LEED certified and has 7,500 square feet of event space with windows and views of the Eagle River and Beaver Creek Mountain. The property’s two ballrooms feature 4,000 and 2,800 square feet of space, and there is a large pool and deck for gatherings after the work is done.
Mountain Towns with Stand-Alone Conference Centers
Three Colorado mountain towns have stand-alone conference centers: Keystone, Snowmass and Telluride. Keystone Conference Center is the largest with more than 100,000 square feet of exhibit, event and meeting space. With three ballrooms and 50 meeting rooms, Keystone can host groups of up to 2,000 attendees.
In 1985, the Town of Snowmass Village opened Snowmass Convention Center, which was acquired and renovated by the new owners of The Westin Snowmass Resort and Wildwood Snowmass in 2011. The center features 18,000 square feet, including a ballroom just shy of 11,000 square feet, and there is an additional 5,000 square feet of meeting space in The Westin. Nearby is Viceroy Snowmass with 9,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including the 5,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom with an adjoining terrace.
Telluride Conference Center has an equally handy location in the center of Mountain Village, a short gondola ride from town and with easy access to several lodging properties situated at the ski area. Mountain Village Ballroom is available for tradeshows or any event and is part of 20,000 square feet of space complemented by nearly 4,000 square feet of space at the nearby Madeline Hotel and Residences, including a 3,300-square-foot ballroom.
For any tradeshow, the key is finding the right space for your group’s needs. Colorado delivers choices galore; the tricky part will be picking just one!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.