Fondly known by Coloradoans as "The Butte," Crested Butte is frequently described using expressions like funky, free-spirited, colorful and off -the-beaten path. Much of the town has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974, and the foresight has paid off in a way that has kept the town ultra-charming. There also is loads of open space surrounding the community, again due to a decades-long eff ort by locals to preserve the area’s ranching heritage and keep places to play plentiful.
The town’s namesake peak, Crested Butte Mountain, towers above the community at 12,162 feet, is home to a ski resort, and is only 3 miles from Crested Butte by road or a paved recreation path. The biggest news for the area is Vail Resorts’ purchase of Triple Peaks, LLC, the parent company of Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR), in October.
Another major happening that will impact the community’s future and provide new options for groups is the expansion of the Crested Butte Center for the Arts in town. The facility is growing to 31,000 square feet with flexible seating for more than 300, multipurpose meeting spaces, classrooms, art studios, a visual arts gallery, a culinary instruction and catering kitchen, a new outdoor stage, dance studio spaces and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. The targeted completion date is June 30, 2019 for phase one and July 1, 2020 for all three phases, including the existing building and outdoor stage.
“We plan to rent all of the spaces in the new building for meetings and events for anyone who wants to use them,” says Executive Director Jenny Birnie. “The theater can be configured in many different ways, anything from raked seating with 380 seats to a flat floor for a gala celebration.”
Other venue options in town include Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum, a large covered pavilion at Rainbow Park, Big Mine Ice Arena, and space for tented events at the Town Ranch. Lodging in Crested Butte is on the smaller side with inns featuring no more than 33 rooms and two quaint bed and breakfasts.
Larger groups head to Mt. Crested, where most stay at Elevation Hotel & Spa, Lodge at Mountaineer Square and Grand Lodge for the full-service convenience and availability of meeting and event space. Mountaineer Square Conference Center accommodates groups from 20 to 500. The 9,000-squarefoot facility is operated by CBMR and is occasionally used in combination with the 21,000 square feet at Elevation and several smaller meeting rooms at Grand Lodge.
For a meal or reception, Butte 66 has indoor seating for up to 160 in the dining room and a spacious deck that overlooks the slopes. The on-mountain Ten Peaks complex includes the glass-enclosed Umbrella Bar and a large event tent and is surrounded by expansive meadows of wildflowers and 360-degree vistas. The rustic-yet-elegant Uley’s Cabin is a cozy place to savor lunch inside or après ski by the outdoor Ice Bar in the winter or take a sleigh pulled by a snowcat there for a gourmet dinner
The picturesque Mountain Wedding Garden just up the road and a nearby covered pavilion are ideal for receptions and smaller gatherings. Head another 3 miles or so to the historic mining town of Gothic, where groups can rent the relatively new billy barr community center at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL), a summer scientific research station. The event center and dining hall holds up to 196 theater-style and 128 for meals and is available to groups in September and October. In August, there are options for smaller groups of six to 30 available when activity at RMBL starts to slow down. A large tent outside the community center and smaller meeting spaces in other buildings also can be booked.
During winter months, auto manufacturers like Kia, Mercedes and Aston Martin have brought media and clients to Crested Butte for driving products on ice tracks custom built on a local ranch. Kia Motors America hosted a nearly week-long media program with 40 journalists and 12 staff to test out the Kia Stinger AWD sports sedan. Accommodations and most of the group’s meals were organized through CBMR.
“We chose Crested Butte because it had rarely been used, and it’s in an incredibly scenic location and cold enough in February and March to ensure we could build and maintain an ice-driving track. It was also less expensive than other venues with no compromise in quality of programming or service,” says Neil Dunlop, product and technology communications manager.
In addition to time spent at the ice track, the group enjoyed on-mountain activities like skiing and snowboarding and time in Crested Butte to shop, dine and sightsee. “Our group especially enjoyed the dining experience at Uley’s Cabin, including the snowcat transport,” he notes.
“Crested Butte’s incredible location and natural beauty are obvious, but it also provides a laid-back experience and top-notch service, which don’t always go hand in hand,” Dunlop says. “Sometimes in remote locations it’s necessary to compromise service expectations, but Crested Butte delivered service with all the sophistication (and less attitude) of other big city tourist destinations.”
The Colorado Society of Association Executives (CSAE) chose June 2017 to host approximately 150 attendees at its annual conference in Mt. Crested Butte. Meeting spaces at Mountaineer Square Conference Center and Elevation Hotel & Spa were utilized, and participants selected from various lodging options at the ski area base.
An opening reception with a music festival theme was held at the Ten Peaks tent and patio, and the First-Timers Meet Up took place at the base area’s covered outdoor pavilion. Being outside also was a highlight for lunch and a Certified Association Executive (CAE) breakfast, both held at Butte 66, because “people truly enjoyed the view of the lift as they sat outside to eat and the fresh, mountain air and sunshine,” says CSAE Executive Director Joan “JT” Tezak. “It was a welcome complement to intense learning indoors.”
CSAE rotates its conference around the state and “attendees were not only delighted but also surprised by the welcoming atmosphere of the community; the outstanding diversity and quality of culinary venues in the town; and the beauty of the wildflowers and scenic views,” she notes.
Plus, the CBMR team organized a variety of experiences. “Crested Butte had it all from spa treatments that were so welcoming to biking and hiking—and the zip-line tour also was highly successful,” Tezak says. Scientists from RMBL led a wildflower tour that gave participants the opportunity to smell a bumblebee. “People were so impressed and will never forget!”
She concurs with Dunlop that Crested Butte excels in delivering a relaxed atmosphere without commercialization. “It was more relaxed, quiet and respectful of attendees who simply wanted a break from city life in the mountains. People in Crested Butte truly take time to care and roll out hospitality in a way that will never be forgotten by this group.”