BY ELLEN GRAY
The upscale Cherry Creek neighborhood is truly a playground for adults. Adults that is, who love to shop, enjoy fine dining and appreciate the nicer things in life.
Comprised of two distinct areas, travelers and locals gravitate freely between the recently renovated, and always fabulous Cherry Creek Shopping Center and eclectic, chic Cherry Creek North. You have to see it to understand it, but rest assured this is one destination you won’t want to miss when you’re in town. Yes, Cherry Creek truly offers it all, including beautiful stores such as Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Burberry, and elegant dining at well-known restaurants such as Matsuhisa and Sol Cocina. And best of all, the area is entirely walkable, with plenty of trees offering a respite on warmer summer days and protection from the softly falling snow in colder months.
CHERRY CREEK SHOPPING CENTER
stopping accessory. It’s here you’ll find some of the best stores around, including high-end retailers such as Tiffany & Co., Stuart Weitzman, Burberry and David Yurman. Homegrown jewelers with a national presence include the fabulous Hyde Park Jewelers and John Atencio, and Kate Hudson recently selected the shopping center to showcase her line of athletic wear in her Fabletics store. There’s something for everyone, and when your feet grow tired of trekking through all the upscale stores, there are restaurant and cocktail options aplenty, in establishments such as Elway’s Steakhouse, the newly opened 801 Chophouse, or the beautifully revamped Kona Grill.
With a slew of recently opened stores, and more on the way, it’s always new, relevant and rewarding at the mall. We spoke with Dave Dixon, Cherry Creek Shopping Center’s marketing guru, who filled us in on some of the more fun details of what’s happening at the shopping mecca.
It’s All In The Reward
Get a head start on your shopping trip by signing up online or at kiosks located in the center for a rewards program that will truly pay you back. Customers receive a password and can attach up to 15 credit cards to their account. Now you’re connected to more than 160 stores in the center, and any time you make a purchase using your card, it will be stored in the system. Once you spend $250 aggregate on your card you’ll earn a $20 reward that goes back on your card.
And Then There’s The Stores
New this calendar year are a host of new stores and restaurants, including Hannah Andersen (for well-dressed kids); Rise Pies Handcrafted Pizza (for hungry foodies); Ivivva (for active juniors); 801 Chophouse (for prime steak lovers); and Fabletics (for stylish workout enthusiasts). Six more stores are slated to open by the holidays, bringing a grand total of 11 new establishments to an already unique and high-end mix. Of course, what’s old is new, and you won’t want to miss some of the beautiful renovations, including RH, Lush Cosmetics, Free People and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Take a break and stop by LivSotheby’s International Realty in the main court, for a preview of some of Colorado’s most beautiful homes for sale.
Red Carpet Treatment
Visitors to Colorado are always greeted with open arms at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, and special amenities are readily available to those coming from far and away. Out-of-town guests are invited to stop by the Guest Services desk, where they will find a currency exchange, complimentary wheelchairs and strollers, mall information, gift cards and gift boxes, and, of course, a complimentary copy of Denver and Colorado Hotel Magazine! Make sure to let them know you’re visiting from out of town, and receive a Passport to Shopping Book, with discounts to more than 60 participating shops and available only to travelers.
“There have been so many changes at the center and it’s all exciting,” says Dixon. The transformation and upgrades kicked into high gear last October when RH opened in a dramatically renovated 50,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Saks Fifth Avenue. An additional new 38,000 square feet of space was quickly filled by boutiques such as Tory Burch, David Yurman, Free People, Knight Rider Jewelry, Tiffany & Co. and 801 Chophouse. The buildout was state-of-the-art, eye-catching and wonderful.
“Twenty-five percent of all the stores here are unique to the Colorado market,” points out Dixon. “We have stores such as Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Roberto Coin, Breitling, Omega – all luxe brands, and all in this location only.” Other great merchants such as Kiehls, Swatch, Scotch & Soda and Diesel Jeans also have chosen the exclusive Cherry Creek Shopping Center address to showcase their wares to shoppers in Colorado.
“We are centrally located in the heart of Denver, and we try to keep things fresh, exciting and easy for tourists, who are a large part of our customer base,” says Dixon. The center takes the experience a step further by offering a great new app that enables users to “map it, plan it and then love it,” he continues. Using the app, shoppers can navigate the best route to stores they want to visit in succession. And truth to tell, we’re loving this shopping-made-easy concept!
Deck the Malls
The holidays are always fun at Cherry Creek Shopping Center, and as Dixon points out, “we take them very seriously. This is an opportunity for us to create a great family and social experience, so that when visitors come here they just feel festive,” he says. From elaborate holiday décor to carolers and fun events, the holiday experience culminates in the Grand Court, where Santa reigns supreme and children line up to make his acquaintance. This year, the mall is introducing an entirely new experience, which promises to surprise and delight the young and the old.
Adding to the fun is the year-round Dinosaur Gulch, a popular children’s play area sponsored by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. But take heed, you must be under 48 inches to play!
With more than 16 million people visiting the Cherry Creek Shopping Center every year, the mall consistently ranks among the top tourist attractions in the Mile High City. “We just turned 26 years old, but the architecture and feel are fresh and new,” says Dixon. “There is a timeless architecture, and things are always being improved and reinvented. Whether it’s the recently remodeled common area, complete with USB charging outlets, new seating, free Wi-Fi and tech tables, shoppers are able to connect and recharge on the go, which is a necessity in our mobile world.”
For some time now, cranes and work crews have been a staple of Cherry Creek North, the vibrant mixed-use destination comprised of hotels, restaurants and shops. Change is always in the air here, and the recent influx of gorgeous new hotels, fantastic restaurants and wonderful boutiques ensures this area remains the place to be when in Colorado. According to Jenny Starkey, marketing director for Cherry Creek North, the area has seen a 300-percent increase in hotel rooms, and what was once a vision of the future is now actively being rolled out throughout the streets.
An aggressive public/private growth plan was strategically implemented and represents what Starkey deems a strong and bold development that brings innovative change to the community. “This is all so fun to see, and the development here has set the stage for everything now taking place. The investment in Cherry Creek North has been remarkable, and this truly is a city that is made for people to visit, to live, to work and to stay.” The walk score in Cherry Creek is 95 out of 100, meaning Cherry Creek North is the No. 1 most walkable neighborhood in the city.
Get Your Walk On
“The walkability of Cherry Creek North is truly one of the biggest draws, because it encourages people to linger,” points out Starkey. There’s fantastic ground floor retail, a slew of happy hour venues, and almost 650 trees that provide a beautiful shade canopy under which to meander, have fun and spend a day. The 16-block area houses nearly 600 businesses; 261 of those are retailers. An impressive 70 percent of the retailers are local, just one more aspect that differentiates Cherry Creek North from any other shopping area in the city, Starkey explains.
The changes in the area have been astounding, with the addition of 186,000 square feet of retail space in 2015, signaling a 25 percent increase since 2010. The growth ushered in a host of new upscale boutiques; stores that are unique to the area and are one-of-a-kind in the metro area. This year alone has seen 26 new store openings, with even more on the horizon. In addition, the very cool new Halcyon Hotel, a unique boutique property right in the heart of the area, and the pending addition of a Marriott International Moxy Hotel, will mean an additional 325 rooms right in the area.
While some stores are new to the Cherry Creek North area, others have had the good fortune of expanding into larger, more expansive spaces due to overwhelming response from clientele who love the area and the unique mix of stores. Take for example Ten Thousand Villages, a store that helped pioneer the Fair Trade Movement and today has more than 390 stores throughout the country, selling gifts, jewelry, home décor, art, clothing and accessories. All merchandise is deemed “ethical gifts,” and the global mission is to improve lives and change business practices worldwide. The store recently relocated into a larger space, which, according to store manager Hayley Morris, is part and parcel of what makes this part of Denver so special. “We are truly honored to be a part of the Cherry Creek North community – it is so rich in history and has so many incredible, small, local businesses,” she says.
In fact, the area has seen a number of stores either moving to larger spaces, relocating from another area or adding to their inventory of locations. From Kate Spade to Hermes to Peter Millar, it’s all here and fashion-forward is the word of the day. Stitch Boutique in the Highlands area, a trendy women’s clothing store, recently opened a second location here, along with A Line in southeast Denver, Perch of Vail and Kaitlyn Collective, which previously was an online retailer. Hollyhocks, an absolutely charming, high-end children’s boutique, recently opened up in the area, much to the delight of loyal followers who were fans of the old location just outside the district.
“There are a lot of retail people watching what is going on here,” Starkey says. “Now add to that the new hotels and restaurants that are opening, and you see that this area truly offers it all. Cherry Creek North truly is the epitome of where you bring the retail, because of the walkability, the proximity of hotels, residents and employees who are all right here.”
In recent months, the area has come under fire for what is a perceived parking challenge. Starkey, however, debunks this fear, pointing out that “parking is always something every shopping district everywhere talks about, and when it comes to Cherry Creek North there’s plenty to go around. If you don’t know where to park, just go on the website (cherrycreeknorth.com) and click on the Get Here option under the Visiting Us tab. Here you’ll see 13 public parking garages, 3-hour on-street parking and many parking options. So plenty is available,” she adds.
When it comes to dining, great cuisine abounds in the area, with several high-end venues and more casual fare serving up residents, employees and travelers in the vicinity. There are lots of great patios and fun happy hours to while away the time. Local and tourists alike are raving about some of the great new restaurants, including Departures in the Halcyon, Matsuhisa, Sol Cocina and the Thirsty Lion. Something for everyone, and everyone is loving the culinary offerings.
Yes, the once low-key area known as Cherry Creek is now all grown up, and more exciting than ever before. It’s all about food, fashion and fun in this little slice of paradise.