COLORADO Travel Guide
Exterior of Denver's Union Station, location of the Crawford Hotel
If the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center has the most beautiful lobby in Denver, then the one at the brand new Crawford Hotel has the best buzz. Maybe that's because it's not really a lobby at all. Located in the freshly renovated Union Station in downtown Denver, the hotel sits above the main train terminal, home to ten bars and restaurants. If you're looking for a place to escape the vibe of the city, the Crawford Hotel is not the place to do it. As the newest refurbishment project in the city, Union Station has embraced the spotlight since opening in late July.
Dominating the scene in the "lobby" is the Terminal Bar, which, while having its own dedicated space, pours out into the terminal and offers about 40 Colorado beers on tap. Two shuffleboard courts sit in the middle of the main room, and a walk-up window allows easy access for those who prefer to have a drink in the common space and watch the coming and goings of the station. The rest of the restaurants and bars are located outside of the main room, designated by signs reminiscent of old-school train schedule boards, similar to the one below that marks the location of the Crawford's concierge desk.
Signs reminiscent of old-school train schedule boards hang on the walls of the terminal
One of the most unique things about the Crawford is that you can "go out" without really "going out." Sure, lots of hotels have restaurants in their lobbies, but most of the time, you feel like you're having dinner in a hotel. Because there is so much going on at the Crawford - and the fact that there's really no lobby - a guest instantly forgets they are in a hotel upon exiting their room. Eatery options range from small coffee shops to local favorites: Stoic & Genuine for seafood and raw bar, the Kitchen Next Door for farm-to-table fare, and Snooze, Denver's infamous "A.M. Eatery," known for its pancakes and Benedicts.
Monte Carlo Suite with King Bed
The Mile High City will have four new hotels opening this year, including the exciting Crawford Hotel in Union Station, so it's easy to see how an "older" property like the Hotel Monaco Denver could get lost in the crowd. And not just amongst competitors, but amongst its own brand as well. A few months ago, we learned that Kimpton will open its second property in the city next year.
But all hope is not lost. The 189-room boutique hotel was renovated back in December of 2010, and during our stay last week, we did not see any signs of aging. During happy hour, between the daily wine hour in the lobby and the crowd at the in-house restaurant Panzano, it was very obvious that the Monaco still has plenty of gas in the tank.
After touring the room options at the Monaco as part of our Best Room to Book series, our recommendation is the Monte Carlo Suite. Starting at $299/night during the summer, the upgrade will typically cost about $50-$80 more than a standard room. For that price, you get 125 more feet of space, which is mostly in the form of a separate sitting area with a pull out couch.
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It doesn't get much more Rocky Mountain than fly fishing for trout, andThe Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has launched an on-property fishing school to prove it to guests.
The fly fishing package corresponds with the opening of a new lakeside lodge on the Broadmoor's East Golf Course, which is decked out Adirondack style with Native American and fly-fishing memorabilia. The classes are offered year round on the docks surrounding the lodge and can be catered to any skill level on the art of fly-tying, casting, and approach. All the equipment is supplied, but if you're thinking about catching your own dinner, keep in mind the classes are catch and release.
At the end of May, we gave you an inside look at the inner-workings of hotel booking sites, specifically rate-parity laws that dictate the different prices that can be offered to the consumer through various booking mediums, such as hotel websites and competing booking engines.
A startup out of Denver, Hotel Engine, is the latest discount hotel booking site to pop up on the Interwebs, and, of course, claims to have the lowest prices, as do many others. But according to founder Elia Wallen, Hotel Engine actually has a case to the claim thanks to its use of a simple strategy that allows it to get around the rate-parity issue amongst its competition: Free memberships.
Wallen told the Denver Post that rate-parity laws that hinder competing public sites working with the same hotel do not apply to membership-based sites, and thus, those who take a few minutes to sign up will be greeted with friendly prices. Registration is free, but that simple step of requiring visitors to sign up before getting a price quote means it is not held accountable the way Expedia and others are by law.
Kicking off what is set to be a big summer for new hotels in downtown Denver, the Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center, or as we prefer, the Ren Den, officially opened its doors late last month in the former Colorado Bank Building at 17th and Champa.
We knew to expect a sense of grandness given the pre-opening reports that the hotel would keep the major columns, vaults, and historical features of the building intact, but when we walked in for the first time last week, it was immediately clear that the hotel had done much more than simply overtake a historic building. No, this was something much more epic. This was the lobby that the local Denver press is referring to as the most beautiful room in city.
Despite being immediately impressed by how vast the room is and feeling small beneath its towering ceiling, it's all in the details at the Renaissance. Overhead, the Bank's original murals still hang, and the former safe, just off the lobby with the 62,000-pound door always propped open, has been converted into a meeting room. A drink at the lobby bar is an absolute must to take it all in, and be sure to take a walk downstairs, one floor below the lobby, to check out several other old vaults. Check out the photo gallery below to get a sense of the experience.
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If you live in the area or plan to pass through Denver next week, the JW Marriott Cherry Creek is going to be the temporary home for an exclusive showing of Impressionist & Modern paintings, American art, 19th Century European art, and luxury timepieces on April 22rd through 24th.
It promises to be a pretty impressive exhibit, featuring more than 15 pieces that include paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Moran, Camille Pissarro, and Norman Rockwell, plus sculptures by Edgar Degas and Henry Moore.
Put on in a partnership with Christie’s Fine Art, the collection is making a stop in Denver on its way to be auctioned off in New York City later this year. Believe it or not, the painting shown below by Thomas Moran, entitled "The Grand Canyon of the Colorado," was painted in 1904 and is expected to sell for $8 million. $8 million!
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Colorado takes its hot springs culture pretty seriously. They come in all shapes and sizes, and you can find them all over the Rocky Mountains. Some are family friendly, and some are clothing optional, as our bro Jaunted experienced.
At the tail end of the ski season, we took a swing down to Pagosa Springs in South Colorado. The area is known for getting the most snow in the state, and we made our home at the Springs Resort in the center of town. The 79-room hotel gives guests 24-hour access to 23 pools that have been built along the San Juan River which runs through the town.
There is always a risk that such development can lead to feelings of phoniness, but the Springs Resort did a good job of creating a spa-like atmosphere while retaining the scenic, natural beauty of the setting. You can see the river from almost every pool, and separate adult and family sections accommodate all. A soak in the natural sulfur water does a body good, and if you want to take it to the next level, you can get a spa treatment that incorporates the rich mineral water.
After celebrating its 50th birthday last year, The Lodge at Vail will give guests a present of their own in the form of significant renovations that will start in August and be completed in time for next winter.
Recent renovations remodeled the hotel's International Wing in 2008 and the pool in 2013, and now the remaining 56 rooms will be revamped entirely, including interior finishes, furnishings, soft goods, lighting, and the installation of air conditioning. The corridors, main stairways, and lobby will also get facelifts, the latter receiving new furnishings, textiles, paint, artwork, and lighting "designed to maintain the authentic character and cozy ambiance for which the boutique hotel is known."
The entire property will remain open during the renovations, but it is definitely something to keep in mind should you be looking to visit Colorado this fall. All improvements should be done sometime in December, so you should be safe in booking a January stay. We'll let you know if there are any major delays, and we look forward to checking out the property ourselves and passing on our thoughts once it is completed. Above are the renderings of what to expect.
The neon sign outside the Rochester Hotel in Durango, Colo. was definitely an interesting first impression, and even moreso of an eyebrow raiser when we saw it again upon checkout.
The Rochester was built in 1892 and is one of the oldest hotels in Durango. Once a 33-room boarding house, the current owners remodeled it into 15 king and double queen rooms. The original antiques and woodwork are still found in the hallways and rooms, but the hotel has adopted a Western movie theme based on films that were shot in the area. Think framed movie posters, film histories, and photographs in the hallways.
Despite the images that movie posters and out-of-place neon signs bring to mind, the hotel was incredibly genuine, feeling more like a B&B than anything else. It essentially was at the end of the day, with a free made-to-order breakfast included in the rate, and a little housekeeping trick that did a really good job of making us feel like we were a guest at someone's house rather than customers at a hotel: After it was made up, they left the doors of all the unoccupied rooms open.
It's been no secret that Denver, a city once considered a "cattle town," is growing up right in front of our eyes. With six hotels in the pipeline for the next two years, it is an incredible increase considering the city's relatively small downtown. We look forward to watching the progress it makes in the coming years, and wish each of the hotels luck in serving their role. Here's an updated list with details and opening dates:
1. The Crawford Hotel:Much of downtown's growth is revolving around Union Station, which is being completely redeveloped in anticipation of the launch of the airport line in 2016. The Crawford Hotel, set to open July 12th with 112 rooms, will be the only hotel to rest within its walls. It should be pretty impressive and we can't wait to get a glimpse of its railcar-themed rooms.
For tourists coming into the Mile High City looking to take advantage of its newly legalized recreational marijuana laws, a roadblock quickly reveals itself.
By law, pot can only be smoked in the privacy of your own residence. Not in public, not in bars, not in your car. So, if you're a tourist and you go buy pot legally, where exactly is the most obvious place to smoke it? That's right -- your hotel room.
But, according to a source who spoke to HotelChatter on the case of anonymity, most brand-name hotels are terrified of being portrayed as pot-friendly. Many impose a fine on guests who are caught smoking pot in their rooms, similar to the cleaning fee associated with cigarette smoking.
Although it doesn't feel like it to us (this contributor is currently in Mexico!), ski season is officially in full swing in the States, with snow falling across the country and temperatures down below freezing in mountain towns out west. While the initial shock of the winter season takes some time to embrace, we know you're excited to hit the slopes.
With the calender now on December, ski deals and packages are really beginning to flood out. Hotels offer a variety of options, including ski and stay deals, discounts on rentals, and packages for both beginners and adrenaline seekers, and we'll dish on the best ones later this week so you can get to booking your trip for 2014.
We see many offers that allow you to save money, but we get most excited about hotels that provide unique perks and experiences for their guests. For example, we're digging Breckenridge Ski Resort's “First Tracks Fridays” program that begins this Friday (Dec 13th), which allows guests staying at any of the mountain's official lodging properties to get on-mountain access one hour before the resort opens to the public every Friday morning throughout the season.