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The Big Change-Up

By M+E Staff

A stunning amount of what’s new in Colorado.

The logical side of your brain is likely concluding that little has happened during the most challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Launches of new additions, renovations and venues have been delayed a bit in some cases, but the amount of new hotels and fresh experiences is simply astonishing.

Impressive Attractions & Venus

Denver Art Museum Introduces Reimagined Campus & New Meeting Space 

Denver Art Museum (DAM) reopened the Lanny and Sharon Martin Building (previously referred to as the North or Ponti Building) and introduced the new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center in style with a gala, housewarming party, member previews, and celebration/free admission day in October 2021. 

The seven-story Martin Building opened in 1971 and was one of the first-ever high-rise art museums. The 210,000-square-foot structure has been fully restored and renovated, including the 33,328 square feet of new gallery and public space, fulfillment of Ponti’s original vision for visitor access to seventh-floor views in the form of a rooftop terrace, and update of environmental and other systems, resulting in the completed project receiving LEED Silver certification. The transformed Martin Building showcases the museum’s collections from around the world and throughout history and places educational programming at the center of the DAM campus. 

The 50,000-square-foot Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center, crowned by an elliptical glass meeting, event and program space, visually connects the DAM campus; provides improved spaces for ticketing and guest services; offers two new dining options; and houses an art conservation and technical studies laboratory on the lower level. The second-story façade has curved structural glass panels, providing outstanding views for function spaces, including Sturm Grand Pavilion. 

DAM’s Martin Building, Sie Welcome Center, Hamilton Building and outdoor spaces like the new multi-tiered Kemper Courtyard with an amphitheater are available for corporate meetings, parties, dinners and galas. Event spaces can accommodate parties for an intimate group or up to 1,000 guests. 

Meow Wolf Denver Opens to Great Expectations

The U.S.-based arts and entertainment company Meow Wolf, with permanent exhibitions in Sante Fe and Las Vegas, officially opened the doors of its third location, Denver’s Convergence Station, on Sept. 17, 2021. More than 300 creatives (muralists, sculptors, fiber artists, technologists and more), including 110+ Colorado-based collaborating artists, have brought four floors of mind-boggling interactive space to life. 

Located near Empower Field at Mile High, Convergence Station transports guests and groups on a journey of discovery into a surreal, science-fiction epic that occurs in four anchor spaces. Wandering through, you will see a kaleidoscopic cathedral, Corinthian catacombs, lush alien habitats, and gritty cityscapes. In addition to the art, guests can experience The Perplexiplex, a live performance venue that holds up to 488. Also check out the large gift shop and HELLOFOOD, a fast-casual café with an outdoor patio. 

Footers Catering Marks 40 Years with New Location & Event Space

A second-generation Denver business, Footers Catering, moved its entire operation to Arvada in spring 2021. The 40,000-square-foot facility houses the company’s offices, kitchen, production facility and a new venue available to groups. Social Capitol features 20,000 square feet of versatile event space, a mezzanine and smaller breakout rooms.  

Footers Catering was founded in 1981 by Denver restaurateur Jimmy Lambatos. Lambatos’s son, Anthony, and his wife, April, took over the business in 2010. 

Abundance of New Mile High City Hotels

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the opening of new hotels in Denver, with one of the latest being the 264-room Hyatt Centric Downtown Denver launching in October 2021. Located at 1776 Champa St., a vibrant mural by local artist Megan Walker greets guests upon arrival in the hotel’s driveway. Moving inside, the lobby features energizing colors, natural lighting and places for guests to work, meet, eat and lounge. 

Of special interest to groups is a spacious rooftop terrace with plush seating, outdoor fireplaces, and a small plates and drinks menu. With sliding-style doors, the space flows into a pre-function area and 2,530 square feet of meeting space. The penthouse level also features a 975-square-foot hospitality suite. On the main floor, Apple Blossom is helmed by local restaurateurs Paul C. Reilly and Aileen V. Reilly and holds 68 guests in addition to a 20-seat bar and lounge area. The Apple Blossom team also oversees rooftop food and beverage, room service, catering and banquets for the hotel. 

The latest addition to the River North Art District’s (RiNo) lodging scene is Catbird, an independent hotel by Sage Hospitality Group that opened its doors in August 2021. The hotel’s 165 guest rooms feature full kitchens, while the Catbird Playroom is stocked with bikes, cameras, musical instruments and more for guests to check out. The 3,800 square feet of meeting and event space includes a 3,300-square-foot rooftop deck with fire pits, hot tubs, an amphitheater, a lawn with life-sized games and the hotel’s signature bar and restaurant, The Red Barber. Catbird Kitchen is for coffee and grab-and-go dining, and there are all sorts of other amenities such as a dog run,  fitness center, plant rental program, complimentary laundry services and package delivery lockers. 

The Rally Hotel opened in March 2021, just in time for the Colorado Rockies’ opening day and Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game. A location in the vibrant LoDo district next to Coors Field isn’t The Rally’s only geographic advantage, it’s also part of the new McGregor Square development that features restaurants, a food hall, shops, office space, residential living and a 28,000-square-foot circular plaza with a 110-foot LED screen. 

The Rally has two ballrooms, a boardroom, pre-function space and a large terrace overlooking the outdoor plaza, which can be booked through the hotel. The 182 accommodations range from cozy rooms to spacious suites, and the eighth floor is known as The Mile High Floor because it sits at exactly 5,280 feet above sea level. The color scheme on this floor is a nod to the mile-high row of purple seats at Coors Field. Three food and beverage concepts are part of the property, along with the Skybridge Rooftop Deck & Plunge Pool featuring incredible views. 

Emily Griffith Opportunity School, situated on 2.4 acres downtown, sat unused for years until Denver-based Stonebridge Companies created a vision to transform the historic buildings into The Slate Hotel, which plans to open in the near future under the Tapestry Collection by Hilton brand. The four-story, 135,000-square-foot property encompasses 251 guest rooms and 4,370 square feet of meeting and event space along with a signature bar and restaurant, lounge, outdoor patio, and fitness center. 

Also in the bustling LoDo district, the 216-room Thompson Denver debuts in February 2022, blending the Thompson Hotels brand’s mid-century modern and urban style with upscale mountain chalet chic. The hotel will feature Chez Maggy, a sophisticated 90-seat brasserie by celebrated chef Ludo Lefebvre (his first concept outside of Los Angeles and within a hotel) and Reynard Social, a sixth-floor sunroom bar and lounge. Groups can book the 1,032-square-foot Thompson Suite and meeting and event spaces that are centered around a two-story hearth fireplace. 

Thompson Denver also features a private dining space and bar for up to three dozen guests tucked into the mezzanine, a lobby-level café and retail space, and a 24-hour fitness center.

Opened in May 2021, Clayton Members Club & Hotel is a 63-room boutique hotel with approximately 5,000 square feet of indoor meeting and event space and convenient access to the Cherry Creek neighborhood’s wide range of shopping and dining.  However, you don’t need to leave the hotel for delicious food and beverage as there are three public culinary outlets: Five Nines, a hidden lounge with live entertainment; Of A Kind, offering elegance and the bright flavors of Mediterranean and California coastal fare; and OAK Market, an all-day eatery. Hotel guests also have access to Clayton Members Club events and amenities, including a members’ restaurant, fitness center, social spaces, co-working areas, and a rooftop restaurant and pool. 

Key Renovations & Additions

Sheraton Denver Downtown Unveils $80 Million Renovation

Sheraton Denver Downtown has long been an anchor on the 16th Street Mall and served as the largest meetings and events hotel in the city. The hotel was recently purchased and refreshed from top to bottom, including a new arrival experience, 133,000 square feet of meeting and event space, 1,236 guest rooms and 138 suites, all public spaces, and culinary and beverage experiences. The property is among the first in the country to undergo the larger brand revitalization that will ultimately transform all Sheraton hotels.

The interior design incorporates various elements and materials inspired by the beatnik movement of the early 1960s. One of the most dynamic changes is the lobby, which now serves as the hotel’s “public square.” The central pillar is 16th Street Commons Coffee Bar Bar that transitions from day to night with food and beverage options. 

A community table also anchors the Sheraton’s lobby and allows guests to work, eat and drink while soaking up the energy of the space, whereas The Studios are flexible gathering spaces that are enclosed with glass and available for collaborative working. 

The Broadmoor’s Bartolin Hall Officially Launches  

Construction of Bartolin Hall, The Broadmoor’s new exhibition space, was completed in March 2020 in time to welcome the annual Space Symposium. Instead, all official opening ceremonies and other inaugural fanfare were cancelled along with the 2020 Space Symposium. Finally, on Aug. 20, 2021, Bartolin Hall had its moment in the spotlight during an official ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration, and The Broadmoor welcomed the rescheduled 36th Space Symposium only a few days later. 

Bartolin Hall encompasses 125,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space, including 32 meeting rooms and a 93,500-square-foot exhibit hall with direct connection to the 60,000-square-foot ballroom known as Broadmoor Hall. The new addition brings the total amount of convention and exhibit space at The Broadmoor to more than 315,000 square feet. 

Peak Moments – Mountain Happenings

Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation is in the midst of a three-year, $135 million improvement program, the largest in the resort’s 58-year history. This ski season, the new lower gondola terminal is opening, as well as an entrance featuring a custom art wall and escalator. The plan also includes a newly developed après ski plaza, ice rink, restaurants, bars and a ski beach, ideal for hanging out and soaking up the sun and fun. Future initiatives include adding 650 acres of terrain and North America’s longest 10-person gondola. This will expand terrain by 20 percent, making Steamboat the second largest resort in Colorado. 

The brewery scene in Steamboat Springs also has plenty to toast about. Storm Peak Brewing Company has expanded its rooftop bar and is opening a new tasting room adjacent to the ski resort to serve up an array of house-crafted beers. Yampa Valley Brewing Company, with tap houses in Craig and Hayden, is expanding to Steamboat this summer with a tap house and tasting room that will have a large front patio. 

What began as a COVID-19 survival tactic has become a winter mainstay for another local brew house. Gondola car and outdoor fire pit table seating are back at Mountain Tap Brewery. The business worked with a gondola restoration company in Fruita, Colorado, to obtain three gondola cars that previously shuttled skiers at Killington Ski Area in Vermont. Each gondola seats six adults and is equipped with an electric heater, twinkly lights and a Bluetooth speaker so guests can choose their own music. 

Vail & Beaver Creek

Located in Lionshead Village, Vail Mountain Marriott Resort has rebranded as The Hythe, a Luxury Collection Hotel and is completing the final phase of a $40 million renovation. A redesigned arrival and lobby and four new food and beverage concepts are part of the latest phase. The Hythe has 29,000 square feet of meeting and event space and 344 guest rooms, 22 suites and 16 residences. 

Grand Hyatt Vail has introduced several new experiences just in time for ski season, including Topgolf Swing Suites where guests can try their hand at virtual golf or other interactive games such as soccer, zombie dodgeball and hockey. Each Topgolf Swing Suite accommodates groups of up to 12 with lounge seating and food and beverage service. In addition, private rental of the Moët Imperial Yurt is available from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and includes two private fire pits, champagne sabering, a s’mores kit and a house-made charcuterie spread. The yurt can host up to 10 guests. 

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa Avon, Vail Valley unveiled more than $1.5 million in resort upgrades last summer, including a renovated lobby, expanded patio seating and dining, extensive new fitness equipment and a series of unique outdoor group exercise classes overlooking the Eagle River. 


Broken Compass Brewing Company is ushering in its first winter on Main Street with a new taproom, and Breckenridge Distillery has introduced an interactive spirits lab, allowing groups and guests to taste award-winning spirits and delve into the behind the scenes of spirit production. Participants can blend their own bottles and sample paired bites from the distillery’s restaurant. 

Here’s a new one, beer pairing with sourdough pizza and homemade cookies. This is the specialty of Tin Plate Pizza and Dynamite Cookies

Aspen & Snowmass 

Aspen Snowmass celebrates 75 years of skiing and riding this winter season and the renovation of three major hotels. 

The first property of the Limelight Hotel brand, Limelight Hotel Aspen, has undergone a six-month makeover and began welcoming guests back in November 2021. The upgrades included all 126 guestrooms and suites and public spaces such as the Limelight Lounge, conference room and lobby. Guests and groups will notice a new arrival experience, expanded seating for dining, and relocation of the lounge’s stage area to better accommodate events.  

The Westin Snowmass and Wildwood Hotel sold in December 2020 and closed in April 2021 to undergo complete renovations. The Westin reopened in December as Viewline Resort Snowmass, Autograph Collection and features fully renovated guestrooms and public spaces; a new signature restaurant, Stark’s Alpine Grill; a new bar concept; refreshed meeting space; and the expanded Lupine Spa. Situated within the same complex, Wildwood Snowmass has 1960s retro-style furnishings and an edgy color palette along with a new restaurant and bar, Last Chair.; 

Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk was unveiled in stages starting in November 2020 and is equipped with more than 10,000 square feet of function space, 516 guest rooms and suites, four restaurants, and a casino that has been expanded to 60,000 square feet. A rooftop pool and Spa Monarch also top the amenity list. 

Opened last year in Copper Mountain’s Center Village, Element 29 is a hip four-story hotel with 127 guest rooms. The property features a bar, fitness center and outdoor patio with fire pits and two hot tubs. Element 29 is only a short walk to meeting and event space, shopping, dining and outdoor adventure in the village.

The Eddy Taproom & Hotel features 49 guest rooms and various indoor and outdoor gathering spaces, including two rooftop patios, and is situated on the site of Golden’s Rocky Mountain Fire Brick Works. Amenities include Truck Eddy (the property’s food truck with BBQ and shakes), the taproom featuring a hearty mountain menu paired with craft beers on tap, and an outdoor lawn with weekly activities. The four-story property opened in June 2021. 

Trains, Slopes & Adventures

Rocky Mountaineer debuted its Rockies to the Red Rocks luxury train route in August. The route is a two-day rail journey between Denver and Moab, Utah (going either direction) with an overnight stay in Glenwood Springs. Launching the route generated a great deal of interest, prompting Rocky Mountaineer to offer 56 departure options from Aug. 15 – Nov. 19, 2021.

New this winter, Winter Park Resort is offering sunset guided skiing and snowboarding experiences. Also, the resort and Amtrak have resumed the Winter Park Express ski train service from Denver Union Station after a year hiatus.

There are two new attractions in Estes Park: the year-round Mustang Mountain Coaster with 2,000 linear feet of gravity-fueled descent and Cloud Ladder, the steepest and most vertical Via Ferrata route in the United States. Cloud Ladder, opened this past summer as part of The Alpine Jewel adventure destination, provides 625 feet of vertical climbing, suspension bridges and two headwall sections

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