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Breckenridge Beckons

There’s just something about this Colorado mountain town that keeps groups and attendees returning for more

By Beth Buehler

Downtown Breckenridge || Courtesy of Breckenridge Tourism Office

Breckenridge is a prime example of a ski town that attracts groups any time of year with its natural beauty and spirit of adventure. The town was established in 1859 during the height of the Colorado Gold Rush, and remnants of this rich heritage are still part of the community’s fabric.

Recognizing they have struck destination gold, several organizations have booked Breckenridge year after year as there’s a formula for success, partnerships are valued, and there are attendees who enjoy returning annually.

Citywide on a Scenic Mountainside

One such event is the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) Convention held every year during the last week of July, most recently a sold-out occasion July 26-28.

“I’m not sure how many years the event has been in Breckenridge due to its longevity, but it has been held there for over 30 years. This year is our 54th annual CASE Convention,” says Director of Events and Operations Carissa Hughes. “Our organization loves the location due to the multiple event venues and even more lodging options, which allow us to accommodate up to 1,500 attendees. Our attendees love the location due to the walkability of Breckenridge and the great downtown area with numerous dining options.”

In tandem with CASE’s growth as an organization over the last five years, the convention’s footprint has expanded beyond using all the meeting space and lodging at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center and DoubleTree by Hilton Breckenridge across the street. Now, the event also books Village at Breckenridge’s accommodations and meeting space.

“We do see our event growing to additional spaces and know there is event space to do so at Vail Resort’s Mountain Thunder Lodge and River Mountain Lodge. We already utilize both of those properties for lodging blocks,” Hughes says.

Hosting 1,500 in Breckenridge requires making meeting and event space at the various properties multipurpose, flipping them from day use for breakouts and workshops to night use for receptions and after-hours activities. “The CASE Convention is the closest thing Breckenridge hosts as a citywide event,” confirms Bruce Horii, director of sales and marketing for Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center.

A major benefit of hosting a convention in Breckenridge is the complimentary shuttle that allows attendees to navigate the town outside of convention hours. Another public transportation option available is the new Breck E-Bike Ride, a community bike share program that features 75 electric bikes spread across 12 designated hubs.

As of last year, CASE has provided a dedicated shuttle service so attendees can easily travel between all three venues—although many have chosen to walk.

“We can generally count on amazing weather during the summer in Breckenridge for this event, with only an occasional small shower on an afternoon every now and then. Attendees welcome the outdoor walking breaks to get from session to session,” Hughes shares.

CASE has also held smaller autumn conferences in Breckenridge, such as the annual Superintendents Conference for about 125 attendees and the Colorado Association of School Personnel Administrators Conference for approximately 100.

More Venue Options

In addition to the properties CASE booked, Main Street Station, One Ski Hill Place, Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge, and The Lodge at Breckenridge all offer lodging and function space. The Lodge at Breckenridge recently introduced 12 additional guest rooms, a new guest lounge, and a fully renovated restaurant and ballroom.

Brand new to the scene is The Carlin, a three-story concept that encompasses three businesses for one hospitality experience. Guests can choose from four upper-level luxury suites, dine at an 80-seat restaurant featuring Pacific Northwest-inspired cuisine on the main floor, and sip a beverage at Tavern Underground, a 45-seat subterranean cocktail bar.

For off-site gatherings, check out the fair-weather venues at Breckenridge Ski Resort. The on-mountain TenMile Station has huge views, a large deck, and the ability to host casual or elegant events, while The Maggie has a spacious patio overlooking Maggie Pond and is near Main Street. Both accommodate up to 200 guests.

The 750-seat Riverwalk Center, also located downtown, is an indoor performance venue with glass doors that open onto a lawn bordering the Blue River. Managed by Breckenridge Creative Arts, the Riverwalk Center hosts a diverse range of ticketed events including concerts, lectures, and performances year-round.

Ideal for Midsize Meetings

The Winter Institute of Medical Physics capitalizes on Breckenridge’s winter beauty and activities to attract a diverse group of professionals in the field. The conference was first held in Summit County in 1979 and has been at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center since 2010, most recently Feb. 25-March 1.

To accommodate 100 attendees and the institute’s agenda, meetings are held in the Breckenridge Ballroom and receptions take place in the Imperial Ballroom. “The property offers everything anyone would need to run a fantastic meeting. The slopeside location is ideal, and the array of on-site lodging options is spectacular,” says Marc Kessler, director of the Winter Institute of Physics since 2010 and a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School.

An important purpose of the gathering is providing time and opportunities for attendees to network during the day. “Informal meetups take place on the mountain, around the conference facility, and, of course, in the beautiful town of Breckenridge,” he says. “Breckenridge offers every outdoor winter activity you can imagine, and the town has great restaurants, shops, and off-mountain activities day and night.”

Breckenridge Distillery
Breckenridge Distillery || Photo by Liam Doran

Plentiful Activities

Part of Breckenridge’s appeal to groups is the wide range of free-time fun. Mush with Siberian huskies on summer or winter dog sledding tours with Good Time Adventures or try the Alpineer Challenge Course, Gold Runner Coaster, climbing wall, and other features at the ski area’s Epic Discovery Peak 8 Basecamp.

For a glimpse at history and the opportunity to try something totally new, consider hosting an event at Country Boy Mine. Travel 1,000 feet below ground into a historic gold mine, go on a monster truck sleigh tour, try extreme sledding and gold panning, and have an ax-throwing competition.

Looking for a hands-on service project? Link up with Friends of Breckenridge Trails to join in on trail workdays that take place throughout the summer. Another way to tap into community is through taking part in workshops, exhibitions, and special events happening in the Breck Create Arts District, a campus of renovated historic structures that now function as studio spaces.

Or, hire Frosted Flamingo Mobile Art Studio to bring creative projects to private events. The Frosted Flamingo also partners with Continental Divide Winery to offer a monthly Cabernet and Craft series at the world’s highest-elevation winery’s VIP Barrel Room Lounge that can seat 28 attendees.

Another option on the beverage front is Breckenridge Distillery’s new cocktail workshop that focuses on the history and creation of the spirit maker’s famous Obi-Wan Old Fashioned. Breckenridge Distillery also invites individuals and groups to book a whiskey-blending lab guided by distillers and an immersive tasting experience.

Whether it’s a sun-drenched patio for an outdoor gathering, hands-on cultural opportunities for a post-meeting distraction, or endless adventure options for team building, groups will feel right at home in Breckenridge.