By Beth Buehler
Black Hawk is the casino gaming capital of Colorado with 17 casinos. But wipe the thought of Las Vegas out of your mind as this small but mighty town is all about rich mining history that dates back to 1859, a beautiful mountain setting, and loads of great outdoor activities in addition to the fun and games. Sound like a place to consider for meetings and events? You bet!
The casinos vary from small to fairly large and are unique in that the settings range from historic buildings to sleek new venues that have a fair amount of meeting and event space. In total, there is more than 200,000 square feet of gaming action, 30 restaurants and 1,000 hotel rooms in Black Hawk, with 500 additional guest rooms coming on line in the very near future.
The intimate size of the town and all of the amenities make it an appealing place for groups to gather and gamble when a day of meetings in Black Hawk wrap up. For those who aren’t into gaming, there are high-end spas, lots of hiking and biking options, and ski areas like Loveland, Keystone, Breckenridge, Eldora and Echo Mountain not too far away. A day trip into Denver to visit a variety of attractions, go on food and beverage tours, and watch professional sports teams in action is easily doable since Black Hawk is approximately 35 miles west of Denver, making it easy to access Denver International Airport as well. There is even a Casino Shuttle that runs between Black Hawk and several Front Range locations, including downtown Denver.
Upon arrival in Black Hawk, walk from one end of town (Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk) to the other (Black Hawk Station) in under 30 minutes or take the free shuttle, which runs every 20 minutes. If you need more fresh air or your group is the outdoorsy type, explore Golden Gate Canyon State Park northwest of Golden, where there are 42 miles of hiking and 27 miles of biking trails.
Two of the casino resorts best-suited for groups are Ameristar Casino Resort Spa and Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk. Monarch is currently expanding to feature 516 guest rooms (including 106 suites), four brand new restaurants, 5,100 square feet of meeting space, and amenities such as a rooftop pool and world-class spa. Of special interest to groups are two 2,100-square-foot hospitality suites and two penthouse suites for VIPs. Once the project is completed in 2020, Monarch Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk will nearly double the casino space and add a 23-story hotel tower with loads of features previously not available at the property.
Ameristar Casino Resort Spa Black Hawk features 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, including the 5,000-square-foot Summit Ballroom. With 536 well-appointed guestrooms, including 64 luxury suites, fairly large groups can be accommodated and are sure to embrace the five dining and entertainment venues, rooftop pool and full-service Ara Spa.
For more than a century, people have been traveling to Black Hawk in search of entertainment, luck and prosperity (but it wasn’t usually for a conference!). By most accounts, Black Hawk took its name from an early stamp mill (a type of mill used to break ore) that was named for the famous Indian chief. By 1868, this little town by the Clear Creek River was known as the “City of Mills,” as tons of ore were processed at the water-powered stamp mills, prompting the Colorado Central Railway to extended its line to Black Hawk in 1872. Imagine a city filled with hard-working miners, gaming halls, saloons and brothels.
Today, Gilpin History Museum contains about 18,000 artifacts from the area’s gold mining history. One of the most unusual items is a church pew that converts into a pool table! I’m pretty sure there is other interesting trivia that could be used during networking sessions or receptions.
If you’re looking for something different for your group, Black Hawk is an option worthy of consideration.
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events, and enjoys exploring Colorado.