Perhaps it’s the lure of the surrounding alpine mountainside. Or maybe it’s the unspoiled beauty of the area’s desert canyons or the eclectic urban environments, and charming small Western-style towns. Whatever it is, the attraction to Colorado for meetings and events is real.
Colorado has a splendor and peacefulness all its own. Along with the beauty of nature’s handiwork, Colorado has its fair share of lovely historic hotels and state-of-the-art event spaces that make it easy to spread out for socially distant meetings or events — be it for a weekend or an entire week.
Commvault, a New Jersey-based data management company held their annual conference, Commvault GO, at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center before the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, which hosted more than 2,000 people, had a Colorado/mountain theme as well.
As Janyce Harper, Commvault’s senior director, customer marketing, who organizes GO each year, explains, Commvault is a publicly traded provider of data management solutions. Commvault GO is the industry’s premier data software conference. Attendees of the three-day event included Commvault employees, customers, partners and industry influencers. “Commvault was looking for a large hotel and convention center to bring our community together in an all-in-one environment,” Harper says. “Gaylord’s setup, welcoming staff and eco-conscious approach offered the perfect match for the community spirit we strive to bring to GO. We have a long-term agreement with the Gaylord family, and trusted that the quality experience we enjoyed at other Gaylord properties would carry over to this property, and the team did not disappoint.”
The focal point of the conference is GO Village, where attendees come together to collaborate with the Commvault ecosystem, including many of the company’s partners and development experts. They can also see live demos, attend breakout sessions, participate in hands-on labs, and explore fun activities and other programming. “Each day of the conference opens with keynotes, which are attended by nearly all event participants,” Harper says. “The main ballroom at the Gaylord Rockies provided an excellent space for this. It fit everyone comfortably, and featured a stage with professional lighting and A/V equipment that enabled us to put on a real show for attendees.”
There were also dozens of rooms used for additional sessions, media briefings and employee activity. The venue had enough hotel rooms to comfortably house all attendees, and a number of restaurants and shops on-site provided attendees with all amenities so that they did not need to leave. Commvault also made use of the venue’s recreational spaces. “On the first full day of the event, we held a welcome barbecue on an outdoor patio at the Gaylord Rockies with an excellent view of the mountains,” Harper says. “On the final night, a party was held in the Grand Lodge, ringed by the venue’s restaurants and styled with Colorado memorabilia.”
The theme of the conference was “More Than Ready,” which fit perfectly with the adventurous, mountain-climbing ethos for which Colorado is known. While the ‘Colorado’ theme was already unique, Commvault planned many other amenities and activities that went above and beyond technology conference hallmarks. The show floor featured a rock-climbing wall to tie into the Colorado mountain theme, and there were also fun activities such as a custom T-shirt printing station and a space for cuddling with “data therapy” rescue puppies. To expose attendees to the fresh air and healthy lifestyle that Colorado exemplifies, the conference offered morning yoga and a 5K fun run for attendees. On the last night, a party was held to close out Commvault GO, featuring music, a lot of food and drinks and carnival-style games.
Offering 500,000 sf of flexible meeting space with a wide range of unique networking venues, Gaylord Rockies offers everything meeting and event planners need to make a memorable event for all. “Many of the attendees of our event live in the New York tri-state area or the San Francisco Bay area. Colorado is relatively equidistant from these two markets, and an easy direct flight from both,” Harper says. “The Gaylord Rockies is a 15-minute drive from the airport, making travel even easier. Most large technology conferences like Commvault GO are held in Las Vegas, which can be a hassle to navigate and feel redundant to attendees, making it hard to differentiate one conference from the next. Hosting an event in Colorado provides attendees with an interesting and differentiated experience. Colorado is rapidly trying to position itself as a state that is a hub for technology and business, so government and event officials will be eager to help and possibly even provide special deals.”
Wesley Guzman, vice president at E5 Events, a company that focuses on corporate events, large-scale conventions, conferences and incentive trips throughout Colorado, says that from a general perspective, the best thing about planning meetings and events in Colorado is that the state really doesn’t have a ‘slow’ or ‘off’ time. “The state offers plenty of activity and scenery in both the summer and winter,” Guzman says. “An incentive trip for employees or clients can enjoy all the splendor of the mountains in the summer with hiking and biking and, of course, all of the world class winter activities that Colorado offers. For large-scale conferences, we also have Denver, which has positioned itself as a convention destination. With the Colorado Convention Center, Colorado is able to host large city-wide conventions. Not many locations can host a large-scale convention with the intimacy of the Rocky Mountains just a stone’s throw away. We have both urban and mountain environments for all attendees and guests.”
One of Guzman’s favorite activities that E5 Events orchestrated was a wolf educator at Lynn Britt Cabin in Snowmass, Colorado. “We had an expert wolf educator lead the guests in a 30-minute background on wolves in the wild and behavior patterns, and how wolves impact the surrounding environment. Then, Spirit — a real wolf — made an appearance and all the guests were able to interact, take photos with and pet Spirit. We created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for each guest.”
Guzman recommends meeting planners research all of Colorado when planning an event. From each of the four corners, Colorado offers amazing event locations and activities. We have a thriving, contemporary city environment in Denver, the beauty of the Rocky Mountains with world-class destinations, such as Vail and Aspen, and the ranches and open space of the eastern plains,” Guzman says. “Colorado proves it has something for everyone.”
For Brianna Schachtel, former corporate events manager at USA Today Network, the Ritz-Carlton, Denver proved to be the ideal locale in Colorado for which to host an incentive trip for the company’s top salespeople before the pandemic. “We were looking for a spacious, modern hotel with nice amenities and meeting spaces,” Schachtel says. “We loved the location of The Ritz-Carlton, Denver because it was walking distance to the 16th Street Mall, and it had great amenities on-site, such as the spa and fitness center, restaurant/bar, business center, coffee bar, etc. The rooms were great, and the staff was very accommodating. We like staying at Ritz-Carlton properties because of the level of service and this stay was no different.”
USA Today Network offered attendees treatments at the hotel spa along with a welcome reception out on the terrace. A last-minute addition on one of the days included a happy hour at the hotel bar before an evening activity off-site. “There is so much to do in Colorado year-round,” Schachtel says. “We loved staying in Denver specifically because of its proximity to a major airport and it is not a long drive to some great outdoor activities. There is also a fabulous nightlife in Denver with the 16th Street Mall area and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Our event was in September, and the weather was fantastic. We did not have any rain, and were even able to host an evening reception outside, which was a nice change from a traditional ballroom.”
Because it can be many attendees’ first time ever in Colorado, Schachtel encourages offering some excursions for guests to enjoy. USA Today Network worked with a destination management company that helped put together some nice daytime activities for the group, such as guided jeep tours through the Pikes Peak region, scenic ATV tours and guided hikes to Boulder, Colorado.
Patricia Zutman, meeting planner of All Four Seasons Events in Golden, Colorado has hosted several corporate events — from intimate private parties to large corporate functions and nonprofit galas. “We have all four seasons here in the state, and you can get from downtown Denver up into the mountains pretty easily,” Zutman says. “In addition, the state offers a variety of ventures. Whether you want a secluded mountain escape, a rustic barn, historic building or a swanky downtown high-rise, we have them all.”
One of Zutman’s favorite event locales is The Buffalo Rose event venue in downtown Golden. This venue combines authentic Western American history with the convenience of a major metropolitan location. The unique collection of new, and historic, buildings features several interconnected indoor and outdoor options for private events, making it the ideal venue for parties ranging from as few as 10 to as many as 600 attendees. “Regardless of the Colorado town you’re hosting your event in, I would recommend checking out local breweries, and the Chamber of Commerce to see what events are happening during your event, as well as other local attractions,” Zutman says.
Colorado’s larger cities, including Denver and Boulder, offer many options for events. The Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center is one block from the 16th Street Mall, and within walking distance to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. With Rocky Mountain views aplenty, Hyatt Regency Center is a prime downtown location, offering up to 30,000 sf of event space.
Nearby, the Grand Hyatt Denver offers more than 52,000 sf of venue space. Located in the heart of downtown Denver, this hotel offers easy access to the 16th Street Mall, Coors Field and Mile High Stadium.
Whether a winter escape to experience Colorado’s winter activities is perfect for a corporate group, or a summer conference provides a chance to explore the state’s many golf courses, Colorado truly has something for everyone. The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs is celebrated as a preeminent golf resort — providing the opportunity for meeting planners to customize the golf experience for attendees. Situated in the Cheyenne Mountains, The Broadmoor offers a wealth of convention and meeting amenities for golfers and non-golfers alike. From menu planning with a chef to stair climbing at Seven Falls, to falconry, to a farm to table picnic, there are memorable activities aplenty.
With the recent addition of the 125,000-sf Bartolin Hall to the existing Broadmoor Hall, International Center and Colorado Hall, The Broadmoor now offers the Convention Center at The Broadmoor, which boasts more than 200,000 sf of flexible, prime exhibit space. The new space can service large conferences and trade shows. The exhibit hall will exclusively be available to multi-purpose exhibits and events held in conjunction with The Broadmoor for multi-day conferences. With the Italian Renaissance-style Bartolin Hall, the combined square footage of the entire center will be more than 300,000 sf. The facility also provide 32 breakout rooms, providing additional areas to hold smaller sessions.
Attendees looking to take advantage of the outdoors can enjoy The Broadmoor’s Wilderness Experiences, which totals 5,000 acres within the Pikes Peak region. There are also two championship golf courses, tennis, pickleball, horseback riding and even zip lining over the resort’s Seven Falls area.
Another memorable retreat experience is the Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Teeming with meeting venues aplenty, this resort has been offering world-class amenities for meetings and events for more than 30 years. In addition to several smaller spaces, the resort’s Cheyenne Courtyard is framed by gardens and offers 5,600 sf of space for receptions with attendees from 80 to 200 guests. For indoor soirees, the 3,200-sf Remington Room features floor-to-ceiling windows, offering up to 170 guests panoramic views of the beautiful surrounding area. The resort’s Centennial Ballroom is the largest space, with 4,600 sf of event space and 2,000 sf of pre-function atrium space. And the team-building options available there include activities such as Build a Beehive, Glow Golf, Iron Chef, Margarita Madness, Mountain Olympics, Cupcake Wars and a Chili Cookoff.
In addition to Colorado Springs, Aspen and Denver, Colorado’s Vail Valley also offers an array of meeting options. For instance, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, located at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, is the ideal location for ski aficionados thanks to its ski-in/ski-out location. In addition to being adjacent to the ski school — a perfect starting point for ski novices in a corporate group — the resort is also home to snowmobiling, snowshoeing, fly fishing, river rafting and 4×4 rides.
The venue’s state-of-the-art conference center boasts classic lodge décor and floor-to ceiling windows that frame the adjacent mountains — making the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa an ideal spot to host inspiring events. What’s more, the resort offers more than 20,000 sf of flexible indoor and outdoor function space.
Aspen’s charisma is hard to ignore. Delightful restaurants and charming shops — all adjacent to the region’s picturesque mountains — make the cozy town a relaxation-seeker’s Nirvana. In the heart of Aspen is the much-celebrated Hotel Jerome. Opened in 1889 at the height of the town’s silver boom, Hotel Jerome has proven to be an ideal space for corporate retreats, client meetings or smaller company events. Its outdoor and indoor spaces exude contemporary luxury, and historic heritage, allowing meeting planners to host memorable and unique events.
While the Hotel Jerome offers a grand ballroom, which can host 400 to 500 people for receptions, the hotel’s Antler Bar is a favorite among guests, thanks in part to its vintage rugs, rustic décor and mounted antler heads. In addition, the hotel’s Wheeler Room features a stunning antique hardwood dining table, while the Dunaway boasts floor-to-ceiling windows. Hotel Jerome offers a wealth of outdoor adventure excursions, including back-country adventures and alpine explorations — offering team-building options aplenty. C&IT