The grand opening in August of the Kimpton Hotel Born put an exclamation point on the completion of Denver’s Union Square development project. Since 2007, Mark Falcone, CEO and founder of Continuum Partners; along with East West Partners, created the vision for the transformation of the 14-block Union Station neighborhood. Falcone and wife Ellen Bruss of Ellen Bruss Design collaborated with the architectural firm Semple Brown on the design of Hotel Born.
Kimpton Hotels, which is owned by the InterContinental Hotels Group, is the leading boutique hotel company in the world. Each of the more than 65 concepts is designed and built in the style of smaller European, family-owned inns with an integral fireplace and inviting comfortable seating in the lobby.
The Born continues the tradition with a living room style lobby with a fireplace where guests are served complimentary wine each evening, according to general manager Von DeLuna, who has more than 25 years as a hotelier and 16 years with Kimpton Hotels. “It is a great way for the staff and management to engage with the guests and a hospitable way to get to know the guests,” he said. Locally sourced knotty pine paneling, walnut herringbone flooring and hand woven rugs lend a warm but contemporary feel to the space.
The hotel sits on the corner of 16th Street and Wewatta and is the cornerstone for the Union Station development. The city of Denver was founded at the confluence of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River just a couple of blocks from the hotel site. “Back in 2007 when Continuum began planning the neighborhood and new transit system, we knew this parcel would be the terminus for the new air train on one side and fill one of Denver’s most prominent street corners on the other side,” Falcone said. “A site of this significance deserved a building we would be proud of 100 years from now. We also knew it could not be a property which borrowed its credential from some other place—it had to be something one would only see and experience in Denver.”
The architectural and interior designs of the hotel—dubbed alpine modern design—provide an elevated urban setting in the foreground of the Rocky Mountain Range. The pet-friendly property has 200 guest rooms, of which 40 are suites, including two premiere suites. The Centennial Suite is 988 square feet and has spectacular views, a six-seat dining table, living room, wet bar and full bath. The Presidential Suite is 1,141 square feet and offers panoramic views of the mountains and the city of Denver. It has a six-seat dining table, 55-inch flat screen TV, wet bar and full bath. Each guest room features a locally sourced knotty pine contiguous headboard and ceiling canopy. The carpet is a brown and gold herringbone pattern on which a mix of modern and traditional furniture sits. “We have had incredible feedback from guests about the rooms, particularly the size feels like an apartment as opposed to a hotel room, and the unique headboard and canopy that frame every bed.” DeLuna said. “Of course, the views, whether of Union Station or the mountains, are standouts as well.”
A 1,000 square-foot fitness center is available for cardio, weight and conditioning workouts. There is a yoga mat in every guest room and in-room spa services are available.
DeLuna said the vision of the hotel’s design and development from Falcone and Bruss is functional, exceptional and intentional. “The concept of alpine modern is merging the warmth of the mountain pine trees that are visible from the hotel’s west-facing windows with an intentional ambience with no pretensions, ultimately resulting in a hotel that showcases grace and elegance.”
The hotel’s facade is a modern dark gray brick that offers a historical nod to the gray industrial warehouse buildings that lined the streets around the train station. Floor to ceiling vertical windows are both functional and architecturally interesting. “In a city with 300 plus days of sunshine, the windows provide a tremendous amount of natural light throughout the hotel, creating an intentional element of warmth,” DeLuna said, adding, “It is especially nice in the 14,000 square feet of meeting spaces in the hotel where the natural light is prominent.” Receptions held in the outdoor Nordic Terrace, which overlooks the train platform, have incredible vistas of the train station. “It’s a truly romantic experience being part of the station with the lights and sounds that evoke feelings of travel by train in the past.” There are seven different event spaces with two terraces, grand ballrooms, meeting rooms, boardrooms and pre-function rooms.
Citizen Rail, helmed by executive chef Christian Graves, is the wood-fired grill restaurant in the hotel. “Not only does the culinary team use the grill for meat offerings but they do a great job of cooking a wide array of vegetables dishes,” DeLuna said. “The restaurant space complements the overall look of the hotel.” Chris Burmeister is the lead bar manager and creates innovative cocktails like the buck shot, which is composed of Bulleit rye, ginger, honey and lime.
Central to the design is the installation of more than 700 museum-quality, original and limited edition pieces of art created by 32 local artists. “The art collection is not something you would expect. It is personal and approachable. People can interact with each piece,” DeLuna said. The first piece of art guests see is an illuminated piece created by Joel Swanson titled “Here There” and is located in the porte cochere.
DeLuna said one of his favorite collections is a grouping of nine photographs taken of Union Station in the 1990s by photographer Kim Allen. “It shows a desolate, abandoned environment that this central hub grew out of. It allows you to appreciate where this area was 25 years ago.”
Guests have access to the complimentary Born-branded bicycles to tour Denver. Amenities abound in the nearby vicinity with easy access to and from DIA via the A train at Union Station, dining at Tavernetta by Frasca, the Italian restaurant from the team at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder. For a daily fee of $20, guests have access to Colorado Athletic Club and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Visitors can expect to feel special. “What makes this property exceptional is the level of service from the staff,” DeLuna said. “It is unpretentious and approachable.”
Guest room rates range from $239 to $1,500 per night.
Kathy Smith is a copy and magazine editor, freelance writer and frequent contributor to the New West Publishing family of magazines.
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