Conveniently located only 13 miles apart, Fort Collins and Loveland have greatly expanded their capacity to host groups over the past two decades. While the communities have similar characteristics—like having downtowns that are designated Colorado Creative Districts and an impressive number of breweries—they each have their own distinct vibes.
“People like to meet in Fort Collins because it is a smaller, friendly college town that is not far from Denver,” says Marci Kurronen, sales manager for Visit Fort Collins. “It is an affordable, thriving, fun, and active community that offers many choices of restaurants, breweries, shops, arts, and entertainment and an abundance of outdoor activities in a beautiful, scenic setting.”
Hilton Fort Collins is the largest meeting hotel in the area with 256 guest rooms and 21,000 square feet of function space, with Fort Collins Marriott as a close second featuring 230 guest rooms and 13,808 square feet of meeting and event space.
In early 2022, Meeting Professionals International Rocky Mountain Chapter (MPIRMC) held its midyear board retreat and MPI After 5:00 event at Hilton Fort Collins.
“The town has a casual elegance I love and fits the vibe of a meeting geared around creativity, rebuilding, and innovation,” says Stephanie Sadri, CMP, immediate past president of MPIRMC. “The city is beautiful and has state-of-the-art facilities and a strong hospitality community. … Whether a meeting of the minds or a fun social event, you will find the right spot for your event here.”
If boutique hotels are your group’s preference, head to The Elizabeth Hotel, Autograph Collection, and Armstrong Hotel, both surrounded by the action in Fort Collins’ Old Town. The Elizabeth has 164 guest rooms and 10,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including an outdoor terrace, rooftop lounge, and music venue adjacent to Fireside Alley, which can be activated for large outdoor gatherings. At the historic 54-room Armstrong, groups can book The Library for up to 70 guests and Ace Gillett’s Lounge for up to 80.
There also is a wealth of off-site downtown venues including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Ginger & Baker, and The Exchange. Elsewhere, consider Jessup Farm Artisan Village and the numerous options at Colorado State University.
For the beer lovers on your team, there are more than 20 breweries in Fort Collins, including big names like New Belgium Brewing Co., Odell Brewing Co., and Anheuser-Busch. Many offer gathering space and tours, or planners can book Magic Bus Tours or Beer & Bike Tours to visit several in one go.
For a taste of the outdoors, check out some of the activity options on the Cache la Poudre River, visit Lory State Park, and spend time at Horsetooth Reservoir, where there is a marina for boat and stand-up paddleboard rentals.
“Loveland is ideal for groups for many reasons,” says Christine Forster, president of the local MBD Marketing & Events. “Proximity to Interstate 25, the Denver airport, and Rocky Mountain National Park are just a few. Loveland offers the perfect combination of large group event space, a variety of lodging options, and tons of activities and dining diversity.”
MBD Marketing & Events has hosted everything from large community events and fundraisers for thousands to conferences and retreats for 20 to 200.
“Loveland is filled with flexible event space for any type of event,” Forster says. “Some of our favorites include Embassy Suites’ conference center, The Ranch Events Complex, Budweiser Event Center (located at The Ranch), and Chilson Recreation Center. Just outside of Loveland is Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, which also offers great, flexible space.”
The Ranch Events Complex, situated on 240 acres, has over 375,000 square feet of meeting and event space and can host gatherings ranging from a board meeting for 10 to a music festival for thousands. In addition to the 60 acres of outdoor space, there are also multiple indoor options at the Budweiser Events Center, FNBO Exhibition Building, Larimer County Conference Center, and Thomas M. McKee 4-H, Youth & Community Building.
The adjacent Embassy Suites by Hilton Loveland Hotel Conference Center & Spa has 263 guest rooms that are frequently used in tandem with The Ranch as well as a restaurant, a spa, and more than 58,000 square feet of meeting and event space in the John Q. Hammons Conference Center.
For smaller gatherings, there are a variety of Marriott-branded hotels such as Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, and TownPlace Suites with two and three meeting rooms, and Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch for retreats and casual get-togethers with a Western twist.
Like Fort Collins, venues with an art, music, and cultural focus abound in Loveland. Rialto Theater Center opened downtown as a silent movie theater in 1920 and is now a performing arts venue with three meeting rooms. The Loveland Museum, an accredited art and history museum since 1937, opens up its Foote Gallery for events.
The 10-acre Benson Sculpture Park with more than 172 pieces of art on permanent display serves as a beautiful backdrop for any occasion, including Sculpture in the Park, the nation’s largest outdoor juried sculpture show. Chapungu Sculpture Park has 82 Zimbabwean stone sculptures and an amphitheater that is the location of Sounds at Centerra on Friday nights in July. Other outdoor venues to consider are The Foundry Plaza and Foote Lagoon Amphitheater, the latter of which offers stairstep seating for up to 300 and a central stage that is surrounded by water.
University of Northern Colorado Loveland Center at Centerra has 10 meeting rooms, Ellis Ranch Event Center offers a rustic barn-style setting, and Sweet Heart Winery & Event Center accommodates gatherings for up to 200.
Attendees who want to shop and dine in their free time can enjoy downtown and The Promenade Shops at Centerra, and those who relish being outdoors are sure to embrace the abundant lakes and miles of trails, including the 22-mile Loveland Recreation Trail.
Set northern Colorado in your sights, and explore the many options in Fort Collins and Loveland.
At a Glance
- Fort Collins: 172,000
- Loveland: 77,000
Number of Hotels
- Fort Collins: 22
- Loveland: 15
Number of Guest Rooms
- Fort Collins: 2,200
- Loveland: 1,350
Meeting & Event Space
- Fort Collins: 100,000+ square feet
- Loveland: 400,000+ square feet
- Denver International Airport;
- Northern Colorado Regional Airport, Loveland