COLORADO Travel Guide
We’ve been pretty vocal about our growing displeasure for packages and offerings designed more to gain publicity than they are to attract and benefit guests. These, for example. And now some say the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s new “sleep ambassador” program is right up there with the best of them.
Us? We’re skeptical by nature at this point. But that’s not fair – everyone deserves their day in court. So we tracked down the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek’s Sleep Ambassador herself, Nancy Rothstein, for some pillow talk.
HC: Let’s get right to it. Your campaign with Park Hyatt Beaver Creek claims hotels are in “the business of sleep.” Do you really believe that? As world travelers, we must say, rarely do we choose a hotel based on its sleep-inducing powers. And some destinations just don’t let you sleep. Vegas, for example.
Even though the ski regions are still getting last-minute storms as we approach mid-April, we are, for the most part, done with winter. Bittersweet for us skiers, for sure, but we do believe that summer in the mountains is just as good, if not better, thanks to the wide range of activities that come along with it: Hiking, biking, climbing, camping (or glamping), and rafting, among others.
Another good thing: Aspen tends to chill out a bit. Since the masses view winter as the season in Aspen, rates become more affordable in the summer, the crowds are gone, and the service is friendlier as the so-called "pretentious level" drops exponentially (french fries are probably still $17, though).
Last week while in Aspen we stayed at the Limelight Hotel, which unfortunately often gets forgotten amongst well-known names like the luxurious Little Nell, the newly-renovated Jerome (it's beautiful, by the way), and the Snoop Lion endorsed Sky Hotel (Aspen has a great hotel scene for such a small town, don't you think?). We dug the vibe at the Limelight, as well as the included breakfast and free bikes, but it's a unique summer offering that's really got us intrigued.
The Stanley Hotel near Rocky Mountain National Park is known for being spooky, for sure, and it certainly has its place in pop culture for inspiring Stephen King's novel The Shining and making a cameo in every twentysomething male's favorite film, "Dumb and Dumber" (race you to the top!).
But did you know about the sister property right next door called the Lodge at the Stanley? It used to be a "bachelor’s building," created specifically for solo male travelers back in the day (1910), but today the 40-room boutique inn is more like a bed and breakfast than a lodge.
“I call it a luxury inn,” said chef/innkeeper Midge Knerr, who ran a bed and breakfast in Rhode Island for 30 years and was one of New York City’s first female chefs. “It exudes a bit more of mountain feel – cozier than the main building, with an artisan touch.”
If the past is any indication of what Robert Woolley is capable of, we have no doubt his latest endeavor, Woolley's Classic Suites, will find success as a new brand in the hotel industry.
It just doesn't seem like it will be with the leisure market, unfortunately.
Woolley,who invented the all-suite hotel concept in 1969 and sold what is now the Embassy Suites brand to Holiday Inn in 1984, recently broke ground on a four story, 191-room flagship property just outside of Denver in Aurora, Colorado. Although the website claims the hotel will aim to cater to both the business and leisure markets, all signs point to this property becoming more or less an airport hotel.
Scheduled to open in the spring of 2014, the location of this project has nothing to offer vacationers. The hotel is being built in an office park that houses the likes of Boeing, Best Buy, Nabisco, and Reebok, and while the marketing campaign claims it's "minutes" from downtown Denver, those familiar with Aurora have eyebrows raised. In reality, Aurora is closer to the middle of nowhere than it is to the city. Woolley's Classic Suites will be located at the beginning of Pena Blvd., the nine-mile long "driveway" to Denver International Airport.
So, why here and now?
Ok, so we know we went on a little rant about the fact that technology might be slowly killing off the traveler in all of us, but this weekend in Vail we stumbled upon a mighty helping hand at the uber-luxurious Solaris (yes, it is still ski season!)
Ski and mountain towns are serene and relaxing, but if you're anything like us, the morning can sometimes be a little manic. You're up early, dressing in layers, trying to get a coffee down and, caffeine aside, a bit anxious. What's the weather like at the top of the mountain? Did the lifts open at 8 or 8:30? Are the slopes already crowded? Did the backside get as much snow as the front? For us, all those questions were answered by the Solaris' in-room Crestron control system.
We liked how we could call for our car and contact the front desk without picking up the phone, but what really impressed us was how it aided in helping us plan our attack for the day. From this little box on the wall, you can access nine mountain cams that shed light on lift lines, snow quality, weather, and crowds. We found it useful to check just before heading out. Lots of skier traffic around Eagle's Nest or long lines at Wildwood? No problem--Blue Sky Basin it is.
Hotel Contests / Hotel Giveaways / Wedding Hotels / Colorado Hotels / Denver Hotels / Embassy Suites / → All Tags
You saw their videos and heard their stories, and now you'll get to pick out the colors (and more) of their wedding. Congratulations to Robin and Jeremiah, who won the Embassy Suites Denver's $30,000 "Win a Wedding" contest.
More than 10,000 people voted in the online contest, which was held on the hotel’s Facebook page. The couple will tie the knot in front of 100 family members and friends on Saturday, May 18, in the hotel's Crestone Ballroom. We're not going to call it a celebrity wedding, but it comes pretty close. To hear more about their story, including jumping out of an airplane on their first date, see our first post profiling the constants.
That's settled, but the fun is far from done: Voting will start next week to select all the wedding details, from the dress to the entertainment. Each week there will be something different to vote on. Invitations are on the ballot now (as of Wednesday), and the wedding dress is next up on February 27th (we imagine that will be one of the bigger debates). You can vote on the hotel's Facebook page.
The St Julien in Boulder is no doubt a luxurious property (it's one of only two hotels in town to offer a spa), but we remember it for its outstanding location and killer views of the iconic Flatirons - one of the most recognizable rock formations on the front range of the Rockies in Colorado.
When gold was discovered in the mountains near Boulder in 1859, the town became a supply center for the new mining communities that began to pop up. A train ran from the center of town up into Boulder Canyon for almost forty years until 1919, and today the St Julien sits on the site of that old rail yard on Walnut Street between 9th and 10th. The Flatirons are located nearby in Chautauqua Park, and yes, you can hike up, in, and around the triangular rock faces.
The hotel is a block south of the restaurants and bars of Pearl Street and a five-minute walk from its four-block pedestrian mall. We found the entire experience to be welcoming on our visit last summer. We liked the accessibility to both the outdoors and the nightlife that came along with the comfortable accommodations. Check out the photo gallery below, and request a room (from $259 per night) on the south side with a balcony to take in the Flatiron views.
Hotel Contests / Hotel Giveaways / Wedding Hotels / Colorado Hotels / Denver Hotels / Embassy Suites / → All Tags
You'll be able to vote on every detail down to the dress, but first you must decide which couple deserves to walk down the aisle in style. The contestants' videos are out, and the voting is in full effect! Now it's time for you to weigh in and decide their fate!
Robin and Jeremiah had a family member sing a song about them which, we must say, is so bad it's... bad (you'll see at the end). Jennifer and Chad literally put all their cards on the (poker) table (above) to convince us to vote for them.
Hotel News / Hotel Giveaways / Wedding Hotels / Colorado Hotels / Denver Hotels / Embassy Suites / → All Tags
Even though we've taken shots to the ribs of reality shows in the past, there's something about the Denver Embassy Suites wedding giveaway that has us intrigued.
The fact that the hotel is giving away a $30,000 wedding is impressive to begin with, but when you factor in the complete concept -- that you can decide the details of the wedding itself -- the whole thing begins to get bizarre in a "can't wait to see how this plays out" sort of way.
Three finalists/couples have already been chosen by the hotel and will be revealed tomorrow on its Facebook page, at which point it will be up to voters to decide who will walk down the aisle (for free). You'll be able to see photos and video of the contestants upon which you can base your decision, and the winning couple will be announced on Valentine's Day. From there, the attention will turn to the planning phase.
Colorado Hotels / Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Westin Hotels / Kimpton Hotels / Aspen Hotels / Snowmass Hotels / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
The Westin Snowmass has been open for almost a month now, and we must say, she's looking good. The hotel's position on the mountain makes it the most convenient ski-in/ski-out at Snowmass, as it's located just above the main lift. Plus, the free ski valet, slope-side hot tubs, and adjacent village give the place a resort feel. There is even hope that this new 254-room Westin will draw more nightlife to Snowmass mountain, but as of now, it's still considered the quiet part of town.
Aspen proper is where the partying happens, and Kimpton's Sky Hotel is right in the thick of it, with its steamy pool scene and locally renowned 39 Degrees Lounge (just ask Snoop Dogg, err, Snoop Lion, who has stayed at Sky). The hotel underwent renovations last spring, redesigning guest rooms to reflect "a retro vibe of a 70s ski lodge."
Read on to see photos from both of these great properties.
The Outlook Lodge in Green Mountain Falls just outside of Colorado Springs is set for its grand opening tomorrow, positioning itself as a "true retreat" for the outdoorsy. It's somewhat of a rental property/hotel hybrid type of approach. Rooms, for example, are cleaned every other day and there's no front desk or on-site staff. The key is left for pickup in an old-fashioned mailbox along with the contact information for a "local host" - a resident of Green Mountain Falls - should you need some advice about where to eat or what to do.
Owner Christian Keesee thinks the concept will become popular with high profile businesspersons and celebrities looking to drop off the map for a few days (we'll keep an eye on that), but there's more to this story than a one-foot-in one-foot-out approach. Turns out, Keesee is somewhat of a celebrity in his own right. He is a noted art collector, and his pieces aren't from your local garage sale. One of his exhibits, Cloud City, is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Hotel Rebrandings / Autograph Collection / Marriott Hotels / Denver Hotels / Historic Hotels / → All Tags
It's the 120th anniversary of Denver's Brown Palace Hotel and Spa. To celebrate the hotel’s opening in 1892, this fixture in the city's downtown area since 1892, has joined Marriott’s Autograph Collection as we mentioned it would last month. This collection of luxury hotels includes New York’s Algonquin Hotel, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas and Turnberry Isle in Miami. The properties in the Autograph Collection are located in major cities, and each has its own distinctive style and ambiance, so they're a far cry from typical cookie-cutter hotels.
So, what does this union between Marriott and the Brown Palace mean for you? For one, the hotel’s inclusion allows guests to use Marriott Reward system points for stays at the Brown Palace.
To make it even sweeter, Marriott is offering 1,000 reward bonus points to guests who book a stay at the Brown Palace between September 12th and December 5th 2012. There are some restrictions, and details are online at Marriott. The hotel will, of course, benefit from Marriott’s marketing machine, too, though Brown Palace will continue to be operated by Quorum Hotels & Resorts, which has run the hotel since 1987.
Rooms rates begin at $400 per night.
[Photo: Marriott International]