By Beth Buehler
When attending a meeting, my preference is to not be holed up in the same venue for two or three days. If I am traveling in from out of town and don’t get to experience the destination at least some, it’s disappointing. While grouping all food and beverage, meeting space and lodging in one place is tempting due to ease and sometimes the need to meet food and beverage minimums, don’t miss the opportunity to mix it up and send home happy attendees.
Unique Off-Site Venues
Downtown Denver hotels have easy access to noteworthy places like Elitch Gardens, Sports Authority Field at Mile High and the top floors of the D & F Clock Tower. The Broadmoor purchased, restored and recently reopened the amazing Seven Falls, complete with Restaurant 1858. This longtime local attraction in Colorado Springs was damaged by floods in 2013.
In downtown Grand Junction, the historic Avalon Theatre underwent a recent $9.65 million renovation, including the addition of a rooftop terrace.
Tapping the Playful Side
After sitting all day, it is fun to have an ice time on the rinks located right at the base areas of Telluride and Beaver Creek ski areas. The private karaoke rooms, all the games, the atmosphere and punch make Punch Bowl Social in Denver (soon with a second location in the control tower at the former Stapleton Airport) a great option for groups. Take advantage of the festive and rowdy atmospheres at Broncos, Avalanche, Nuggets and other professional sporting events.
Ways to Make Transportation Fun
Anytime transportation can be made fun with options like a stretch limousine, pedicabs in downtown Denver, a boat ride across a lake, a chairlift or gondola ride to a mountaintop picnic, or a sleigh ride dinner via horses or a snowcat, go for it!
Utilize Outdoor Options
Colorado offers up 300 days of sunshine, so it’s a shame not to utilize that gift from Mother Nature as well as the many potential meeting venues, including patios and other outdoor spaces such as amphitheatres and concert tents. A back-up plan or a tent are always recommended, but the outdoor events I’ve been to at the top of Ten Peaks or Uley’s Cabin at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and in Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland are among the most memorable.
Farms, Barns & Ranches
While there are guest ranches that can host all parts of a meeting, it’s also possible to experience the West on a ranch for just one evening or afternoon and be based elsewhere. Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa has classic barns for gathering in Tabernash near Winter Park, and The Barn at Raccoon Creek in Littleton was recently introduced as a new and picturesque space for groups. Delta County on the Western Slope has numerous farms that host farm-to-table dinners.
It’s easy to stay inside of the box at your meeting base camp, but the benefits of stepping outside to off-site locations and activities typically wins enthusiastic fans among meeting attendees.
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.