Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Going Big

Colorado’s stand-alone convention and conference centers offer grand sizes and superb locations

By Beth Buehler

There aren’t many states that can say they have convention or conference centers just steps from the ski slopes and in vibrant downtown districts. Colorado’s Copper Mountain Conference Center is one of the few ski-in/ski-out conference centers in the U.S., while the newly expanded Colorado Convention Center (CCC) in Denver is located in the city’s core surrounded by 13,000 hotel rooms.

Exterior of Copper Mountain Conference Center. Feb. 13, 2024
Copper Mountain Conference Center || Courtesy of Copper Mountain

Most mountain convention and conference centers tend to be small or medium in size like Copper’s 15,500 square feet that can serve groups of up to 740, but Keystone Conference Center is the exception with 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space. The largest of meetings are still best served at CCC, which celebrated the completion of a 200,000-square-foot expansion in December. 

Colorado Meetings + Events reviewed the Centennial State’s stand-alone facilities that are not connected to lodging. Take a look and find the best fit for your group. 

CCC Expansion Revealed

Growing vertically instead of horizontally, CCC’s expansion was constructed on the existing building’s roof and includes the new 80,000-square-foot Bluebird Ballroom that can be subdivided into 19 rooms and host more than 7,500 attendees for a general session or 4,600 for a catered event. The transformative expansion also includes 35,000 square feet of pre-function concourse space and a 20,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop terrace.

Attendees at ribbon-cutting ceremony for Colorado Convention Center expansion. Feb. 13, 2024
Attendees at ribbon-cutting ceremony for Colorado Convention Center expansion || Photo by Evan Semón, courtesy of Visit Denver

Keeping in step with today’s needs, the project integrates technology improvements and seamlessly transitions to the existing 600,000 square feet of exhibit space, 105,000 square feet of meeting space, two ballrooms (one is 50,000 square feet and the other is 35,000), and the 5,000-seat Bellco Theatre.

The project team sought feedback to figure out what should be included in the expansion. “Several focus groups were convened for the explicit reason of meeting planner involvement, along with the Visit Denver Customer Advisory Board,” says Director of Sales and Services Rich Carollo. 

The first group to occupy the new space will be the National Science Teaching Association in March. Dot Foods, American Academy of Neurology, Red Hat Summit, Hanson Wade Advancing Preconstruction, and the Colorado Auto Show banquet are examples of other groups that have the new space booked, he adds.

Midsize Options

Pueblo and Grand Junction are the perfect solution for groups looking to meet in smaller cities and, like Denver, they have convention centers located in vibrant downtowns. Pueblo Convention Center and Grand Junction Convention Center, both managed by Denver-based OVG 360, have hosted the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, which attracts about 500 attendees.

Pueblo Convention Center has 47,000 square feet of event space, including a 17,500-square-foot exhibition hall and 16,000-square-foot ballroom, as well as five breakout rooms, pre-function space, and a pavilion. Pueblo’s historic Riverwalk is just steps from the venue, providing an idyllic setting for leisurely strolls during meeting breaks. Groups also have access to the PBR Sports and Fitness Center within the convention center. 

Among the notable clients that held gatherings for 600 or more attendees in 2023 were Skills USA, Colorado School Nutrition Association, and CS Wind. In addition, the Colorado Association of School Business Officials had 300 attendees on-site for a spring conference. 

The Grand Junction Convention Center accommodates groups of up to 2,670 with 24,100 square feet of meeting and event space, including an 18,500-square-foot ballroom. The VinCo Conference & Trade Show, Holistic Trade Show, Snowmaking and Slope Maintenance Conference & Trade Show, and RMLA Conference & Trade Show are examples of events coming up this year.

Meeting in the Mountains

Located in the heart of Snowmass Base Village, the newly renovated and renamed Snowmass Conference & Events Center has over 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space that encompasses nine rooms, including the 3,600-square-foot Grand Ballroom. The four adjacent conference rooms range from 525 to 1,050 square feet, and there is 1,500 square feet of pre-function space. The remodel was completed in November and includes new carpeting, artwork, furniture, doors, and more.

Keystone Conference Center has three ballrooms that range in size from 4,000 to 19,800 square feet alongside 50 meeting rooms, meaning the venue can host nearly 2,500 attendees. Keystone Conference Center is also home to a teaching kitchen where a three-year accredited culinary school is operated in partnership with Colorado Mountain College.

New electronic reader boards, carpet, and air walls have been installed, and the conference center is now partnering with Cafe Food Rescue­­—an organization that helps provide food to families in the county instead of wasting or composting the excess, says Lauren Moseley, senior national sales manager for Keystone Resort and Breckenridge Resort. “We are a beautiful, updated convention space tucked right into the mountains and have some of the largest space available outside of Denver and all the way to Salt Lake City.” 

Exterior of Telluride Convention Center. Feb. 13, 2024
Telluride Convention Center || Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

Telluride Conference Center, conveniently located in Mountain Village, can host gatherings of 50 to 500 people with 16,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a 7,000-square-foot ballroom. The conference center partners with The Peaks Resort & Hotel, which has an additional 19,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and 160 guest rooms, including condominiums.  

“The conference center overlooks Telluride, a National Historic Landmark District surrounded by the highest concentration of 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks in the United States,” says Director of Sales Amy Solomon.