Denver offers some spectacular venues that have recently undergone renovations with the aim of enhancing guest experiences and providing bigger, better and more beautiful event spaces. The Grand Hyatt Denver has unveiled a $28 million makeover that includes guestrooms, the lobby and the conference center. The Pinnacle Club now features 1,200 hand-blown glass pieces set in the ceiling, which compete for oohs and aahs with the views out the 38th floor windows.
Deanna Brown, catering director, says fresh, regionally sourced fare is a focus for event planners. She also cites clients who take an imaginative approach to table settings and service, such as a recent lazy susan–style dinner that captivated guests with its interactive elegance. The Grand Hyatt Denver enjoys a solid reputation for excellent service and effortless events. The hotel also features one of only a few fully dedicated kosher kitchens in the country.
A little ways northeast is the JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek. Nestled in one of the city’s liveliest shopping districts, the hotel just underwent a facelift as well. “We recently renovated our outdoor space to make it a true four-season event space that brings in tons of Colorado sunshine,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Zak Kimble. The 2,400 square-foot area, dubbed Fireside, features abundant sunlight that gives way to LED chandeliers and two roaring firepits as the sun goes down. “Fireside is one of the hottest new spaces in the city,” says Kimble, “and it helps the JW Marriott Denver truly stand out from other properties for weddings, corporate receptions and meetings.” It joins 8,400 square feet of additional meeting and event space, including two flexible ballrooms.
As to catering and event planning, Kimble says, “The entire team, which includes Catering Sales Manager Lindsay Ventimiglia and one of our head banquet gurus, Dennis Ortiz, really cares about delivering a truly memorable experience to our guests.” Details include the hot trend of tabletop texture, such as floral-glass chargers and linen runners to enhance table settings.
The city may be pretty, but the Rocky Mountains also hold certain charms. The Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain features two ballrooms in neutral colors, better to make the most of the floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the Vail Valley. The 4,000 square-foot Riverside Ballroom can accommodate up to 350 people. Adjacent is a 2,000-square-foot outdoor banquet terrace, which overlooks the beautifully landscaped Riverfront wedding lawn and the Eagle River. The Gondola Ballroom features more than 2,800 square feet of flexible space with expansive windows opening onto the Westin’s Gondola Plaza. Says Kristen Pryor, Director of Sales and Marketing, “We believe in strong communication between the planner, the catering manager and the entire banquet team to help execute the client’s vision.”
Pryor is also seeing an affinity for local flavors among brides and event planners, “We have been having fun coming up with innovative ways to include these, such as whiskey and beer pairings with Colorado foods. It is a different way to show guests all that Colorado has to offer.” For weddings, the Westin Riverfront offers an all-inclusive luxury experience—from rehearsal dinners at the contemporary Mexican restaurant Maya to wedding day pampering at Spa Anjali to a send off brunch in the Library.
Farther afield is the unique rustic elegance of Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa in Tabernash, which encompasses 6,000 acres of privately owned wilderness, only 2 percent of which is used for guest facilities (the rest is protected in a land trust). The brand new 50,000 square-foot High Lonesome Lodge features 41 new guestrooms and suites, a wine grotto, and indoor and outdoor event venues, including a reclaimed barn that will accommodate up to 350 people.
The 18,000-square-foot Ranch Creek Spa offers nature-based treatments tailored to the high altitude and dry climate, including a special couples bridal suite. Another fun option is a sleigh or carriage ride to bring the bride and groom to the wedding site. Julie Branstrom, Executive Director of Sales, says a top-notch event is the result of “high-quality product with artisanal touches, attention to detail and service with ‘altitude’”—the epitome of laid-back Colorado style.
Dana R. Butler is a Denver-based freelance editor and writer.