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Welcome To The Home Ranch

in Activities/Hotels & Resorts/Mountain Activities/Mountain Hotels & Resorts/Uncategorized by



When it comes to vacation, many people just want to get away from it all. Whether that means powering down from a high-stress job in the city, or physically abandoning day-to-day obligations, we often feel compelled to leave home in order to relax, rest and perhaps even enjoy a new adventure.

Arriving for the first time at The Home Ranch – the state’s only Relais & Chateaux affiliated guest ranch and all-inclusive, family-friendly summer vacation destination – there’s a very real, very refreshing sense of isolation. Nestled in the heart of the Elk River Valley, 18 miles north of Steamboat Springs and bordering thousands of acres of Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest land, you immediately feel a long distance from wherever you journeyed. But that distance is welcome. You begin to unwind from the bustling, city-light drenched, mile-a-minute lives we lead. Fresh mountain air expands your lungs, and blue skies dazzle your view. As General Manager Brooks Bradbury and Guest Services Manager Selina Heintz greet you upon check-in, they take your bags with warm smiles and a delightfully unexpected greeting: “Welcome Home.”

Finding Home in Clark, Colorado

It all began nearly 40 years ago, when Toledo, Ohio residents Ann and Steve Stranahan (brother of George Stranahan of Colorado whiskey fame) met Ken and Sharon Jones, cattle ranchers from Montana. The four decided they would start their own ranch. The Stranahans were vacationing in Steamboat Springs with their four children when they discovered a 580-acre swath of alpine ranchland in the Elk River Valley, in a small settlement called Clark. This was during what locals call a “Three-wire-winter” – meaning the snow was so high that it reached the tops of the barbed-wire fences separating the roads from the cattle ranches.

From first glance, the Stranahans were transfixed with the area. Later, Ann would write a poem about the experience of seeing the land for the first time, exploring the several hundred acres on cross-country skis with Steve.

The Stranahans purchased that land, “laying impermanent claim,” as Ann writes,  to the natural beauty they discovered there. The land they would eventually transform into a guest ranch would change their lives, and change the face of Clark itself. It was here they established The Home Ranch.

Staying at The Home Ranch

The owners intentionally modeled the ranch after early western homesteads – not the imitation ski chalets popular in the late 1970s, but a more rustic, low-lying look somewhere between a high-country cabin and a farm cottage. As the property has grown, they have added private cabins alongside the main lodge house. Today, there’s a barn that hosts Wednesday night dances, and a spot for weekly bonfire cookouts. There’s a garden and greenhouse, a downright swanky chicken coop, and a hay pasture for grazing horses – 78 of them to be precise, including an irritable yet adorable miniature horse and a beloved donkey named Poncho.

All of this creates a summertime playground for guests of all ages and abilities, who plan their weeklong stays with equal parts respite and recreation. You might learn to fly fish in the gently babbling Elk River, or perfect your horsemanship skills on long back-country rides. You might choose to join a guided hiking trip along the 11-mile Zirkel Circle – practically untouched by Front Range 14er-baggers – or charter a hot air balloon ride for an exhilarating journey high above the rugged peaks. There are constant diversions for kids, from horseback riding to pond fishing to arts and crafts – and, of course, plenty of afternoon ice cream breaks at the local Clark Store.             

For many, simply wandering the property between hearty gourmet meals proves fulfilling. That’s because The Home Ranch treats guests to all-inclusive haute cuisine by Executive Chef Jonathon Gillespie, who sources locally (and we mean locally) as much as possible. Beef comes from neighboring Sand Mountain Cattle Company, and charcuterie is made in-house. Pork, poultry and produce, including lettuce, carrots, corn, peas and radishes, along with herbs and flowers, are raised and grown onsite. Plus, desserts by Pastry Chef Douglas Short round out every meal, and freshly baked cookies stacked on a platter in the foyer make irresistible late-night snacks.

During meals, guests sit at long community tables, sipping rare wines and Colorado craft beers, unwittingly laying the foundation for lifelong friendships. What might begin as a conversation over breakfast flapjacks and fresh-squeezed orange juice will often continue over barbecued chicken and grilled whitefish on the patio at lunch. By dinnertime, over dishes of Colorado lamb chops or Parisian-style gnocchi with Home Ranch garden greens, those same guests are exchanging family photos and email addresses, already making plans for a return trip at the same time next year.

The Ranching Way of Life

Part of the magic of The Home Ranch is how it trots the line between high-class and high-country. There’s an admirable success in providing a luxury experience on an otherwise harsh landscape (the growing season is an impossible 59 days, and winters regularly reach 40 degrees below zero). Yet, that unflinching emphasis on hospitality lives alongside an undying respect for the land and those who have lived and worked it for generations.

In fact, the Home Ranch and its neighboring ranches have made it a mission over the years not only to create a destination getaway for discerning travelers, but to protect and preserve the surrounding land and ranching way of life by placing more than 8,000 acres of the Upper Elk River Valley into a permanent conservation easement, meaning the land will remain undeveloped for generations to come.

This wasn’t always a popular notion in a place where land developers mine profits in hills that were once mined for gold. Finding like-minded individuals to keep the land pure and undeveloped, however, has enhanced the beauty of the landscape. Over its lifetime, The Home Ranch has grown from 580 acres to 4,000 – land that encompasses hayfields and hillsides where horses graze and calves are born in the spring, where herds of deer gather and graze, and where guests can hike, bike, and fish on land that likely will remain this beautiful for centuries.

Welcome Home

It may seem impossible that this place – with its vibrant green hills, distant frosted peaks, gentle horses and graceful river – could ever truly be home. But in the communities that form over meals and around bonfires, in the shared experiences on the land, and in the stories of days gone by, there lies an inescapable sense of belonging. You may be far from home, but you’re right where you need to be.

Learn more and book your stay at

A Home of Your Own

Some guests visit The Home Ranch year after year before finally deciding to move permanently to Clark. For those who cannot imagine life anywhere else, there’s the Murphy-Larsen Ranch: a conservation-oriented residential project managed by The Home Ranch that offers ownership opportunities in a breathtaking setting. Learn more at

Doors Open Denver

in Activities/Attractions/Front Range Activities/Front Range Attractions/The Colorado Blog by


The 13th annual Doors Open Denver, presented by the Denver Architectural Foundation, is the premier event showcasing the richness and history of Denver’s built environment and promoting quality design on Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. Doors Open Denver encourages event participants to observe and engage with the built environment through an artistic and cultural lens.

Headquartered at the iconic Denver Union Station, the event highlights approximately 70 of Denver’s unique spaces, including high-profile, historic and artistic feats of architecture and design.

During the event, visitors are invited to explore our city in the following ways:

• Sign up for an Insider Tour. Doors Open Denver offers 120 tours led by architects, landscape architects, historians and urban enthusiasts with special knowledge of Denver’s neighborhoods and buildings.

• Visit one or several of the 70 open sites.

Open sites are buildings that have opened their doors to the public.

• With the support of the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Doors Open Denver offers six arts and cultural activities, including architecturally inspired hair art, behind- the-scenes videos of area theatres, a performance by five analog synthesizer music artists and more.

Six sites were added to this year’s line- up, including Page Architects (The John Deere Building), St. Paul Lutheran and Roman Catholic Community of Faith, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Smiley Branch Library, Athmar Park Library and Pauline Robinson Library.

For more information on open sites, Insider Tours and arts and culture activities, visit Engage with DOD on Facebook, Twitter (@denverarchfound) and Instagram (denverarchitecture) using #DOD2017.


in Hotels & Resorts/Mountain Hotels & Resorts by
The Peaks

Rocky Mountain resorts offer much more than rooms with a view.

Majestic snow-covered mountains rearing high into the sky, brilliant gold aspen leaves shimmering against contrasting white trunks on dense forested slopes, and sunlit, rushing rivers cascading into wildflower meadows nestled within valleys—the setting must be Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by this stunning scenery, the resorts of Aspen, Vail and Telluride offer perfect destinations for the adventurous seeking unmatched outdoor experiences.

Exhilarating days spent hiking, biking or trekking may be interspersed with first-class games of golf or shopping among high-end boutiques selling designer brands from Prada to Gucci. When the sun sinks behind the peaks, a lively nightlife sparkles with a variety of theater performances, concerts and ballet.

As winter approaches, Aspen and Vail become the centers of the best skiing and après ski in the world. With more than 5,000 acres of skiing trails and cross-country skiing, this area is perfect for all winter sports enthusiasts, both novices and experts. Each pretty alpine-style village offers stunning accommodations that match the breathtaking outdoor views.

colorado-cool1At The Sebastian, guests may experience total recovery in a mountain-view pool, complete with steaming hot tubs, then follow the treat with a delectable dining experience. Rich décor, complete with fine paintings, is characteristic throughout the hotel. Bedrooms combine opulence with sleek contemporary style, and only the finest luxury amenities are provided; 400-thread Egyptian cotton sheets ensure a perfect night’s sleep. Intimate and elegant, the accommodation is a home away from home.

The Library holds an interesting selection of books that invite leisurely browsing. The Frost bar offers an impressive choice in spirits; guests may choose from among the signature Scotch collection, sleek hand-crafted cocktails, and a variety of microbrew ales. Relax and socialize over tapas and wine, or crudo or bistro fare in Leonora before attending a family celebration dinner in the private dining room.

In winter, the Sebastian’s base camp provides ski-in/ski-out access from Gondola One on Vail Mountain. Private ski valets ensure each transition is smooth, enabling guests to spend maximum time on the slopes.

Legends of the Bachelors add a historical dimension to the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch resort. Seven miners arrived here in the early 1900s—John Anderson, ‘Gundy’ Berg, Ed Howard, Charley Mays, John Mertz, Ferdinand Smith and Carrothers, who history records only by his last name—and stayed until the Great Depression. Meeting rooms are named for the miners, and rock-lined walls of the Grotto in Bachelor Gulch Spa evoke the caves found throughout the Rocky Mountains, places the Bachelors would have known well. Today, the wagging tail of Bachelor, the hotel’s St. Bernard ambassador, frequently greets visitors relaxing in front of glowing fires in the Great Room.

Stylish and imposing, the Ritz Carlton is one of the loveliest hotels in the area. Set on a hillside close to Beaver Creek Mountain with stunning views across Vail Valley, the Ritz Carlton evokes alpine charm. The beauty of the surrounding landscape is echoed in the interior décor; natural wood and stone combine with luxurious designer textiles and upholstery to create an instantly relaxing environment in which graceful blues, browns and beiges predominate. Each room boasts spectacular views of either the Eagle River Valley or Beaver Creek Mountain.

Soak away aches of the day in a sumptuous marble bathroom, enjoy gourmet in-room coffee and tea, or be pampered in a spa treatment or sauna.

Buffalo’s restaurant features seasonal dishes accompanied by one of the many local craft beers. At Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, guests may explore designer cocktails and indulge in fine dining at W. The adults-only Bachelors Lounge offers imported cigars from around the world, signature cocktails and a sommelier-crafted wine list par excellence.

In this area, guests can ski from village to village in winter and have ski-in/ski-out access to more than 1,800 acres of pristine snow-covered slopes. White-glove services for skiers include a ski concierge and direct access to the Bachelor Gulch Express high-speed quad chairlift, situated only a few minutes from the hotel.

At other times of the year, trail-riding on sure-footed horses offers full immersion in the spectacular scenery. The Ritz Carlton enjoys an exclusive partnership with Red Sky Golf Club, home to some of Colorado’s highest rated golf courses.

Children can enjoy the Bachelor Gulch Youth Spa program and the Ritz Kids scheme. In winter, a ski nanny is available to give mom and dad much-needed space. Four-footed friends are welcome, and a pampering service includes doggie massages, VIP packs and even Furry Paw Fridays, in which man’s best friend enjoys canine fun in the sun.

Aspen’s Hotel Jerome defines elegance, with its imposing Old World splendor, distinctive, historic red brick expanse and understated luxury. Its location right in the heart of town ensures guests are only steps away from the finest shopping. Often described as Aspen’s crown jewel, the hotel dates back to the 1880s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Chairs in the lounge beckon guests after a full day exploring the mountains. The characteristic leather and tartan, dark woods and sparkling linen can be found throughout the hotel. Interesting touches include mini-bars designed as leather campaign chests and burnished leather bed frames. Walk-in showers, oversize baths and marble surrounds are found in every bathroom, together with custom-blended bath products. Cashmere curtains and cubist-inspired carpets complete the décor.

In recognition of the fine quality of locally produced art, unique pieces by local artists are displayed on the walls, as are reproductions of archival pieces from the Aspen Historical Society’s collection, including a singularly impressive image of a Ute Indian chief.

Hand-stitched leather chairs, traditional furnishings and warm hardwood flooring create the perfect ambiance for dining and relaxing each evening. Inspired by local traditions and culture, the unique Food of Place series was created exclusively for hotel guests.

In contrast, the iconic J Bar offers an authentic, Old-West saloon feel, complete with burgers and beer, lobster Cobb or Aspen Crud. Rugged leather furniture conveys a sense of timelessness, and the Chippendale chinoiserie bar original to the hotel remains in use.

Concierge services provide access to unexpected treats, such as a twilight husky sledding excursion in which dogs hurtle down the slopes, pulling the adventuresome on a sled through the tranquil, snowy countryside.

The Viceroy Snowmass is among the newest resorts in the area and is proving highly popular. Well-situated to enable skiers access to four mountains—Aspen, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk—The Viceroy is close to the Elk Camp gondola and Village Express and Assay Hill chairlifts.

Sleek, elegant, sophisticated interior décor evokes a fresh, warm and welcoming atmosphere. Kitchens in each room are fully stocked with designer tableware, and the comfortable, serene bedrooms are the brainchild of renowned interior designer Jean-Michel Gathy.

Wonderful mountain or town views are visible from each room, including the dining room, which overlooks spectacular mountains. Relax in the Ute Indian-inspired Wellness Spa, try out the well-equipped fitness center or sip a drink on the year-round pool terrace.

The Viceroy also prides itself on its environmentally friendly policies, as it seeks to stay at the forefront of sustainable hospitality. A state-of-the-art Electrolyser system creates the hotel’s own cleaning products, ensuring air is healthy, clean and fresh throughout. Combined with signature luxury accommodations designed to exceed all expectations, the Viceroy Snowmass is a hotel for the 21st century.

Recently renovated in chic, natural-hued Aspen Modern, Little Nell is the sole 5-star, 5-diamond resort in Aspen. Here, a palette of cream, blue and chocolate creates a serene, calm environment, and down-filled sofas and lounge chairs tempt guests to stop and stay awhile. Many of the rooms boast panoramic views of the mountains, and suites offer heated marble floors and walls, steam showers and Jacuzzi soaking tubs. Glowing fires in fireplaces provide welcoming warmth after a cold day out on the mountains.

The town is right at Little Nell’s front door, making it easy for guests to enjoy a shopping spree amid high-end boutiques or take in an evening’s entertainment. Visitors may dine in comfort at the hotel’s award-winning Element 47 restaurant, which features alpine cuisine infused with seasonal ingredients. The unusual glass wine wall echoes the scale of the award-winning wine list. Those who prefer casual fine dining will enjoy Ajax Tavern, the ultimate après-ski venue with a pretty mountainside patio.

Regardless of the time of the year, Little Nell has much to offer visitors. During the summer, stargazing jeep tours are led by an astronomy expert, under whose supervision guests can enjoy a late-night picnic in the mountains, then discover the sky’s jewels viewed through state-of-the-art binoculars.

Set on Telluride Mountain amid the San Juan peaks, Hotel Telluride is sited within the historic community that shares its name. A quaint 19th-century silver-mining town, Telluride offers Victorian charm amid awe-inspiring, soaring peaks perfect for skiing, climbing and outdoor activities.

Each room at Hotel Telluride boasts its own special, breathtaking mountain view from the balcony or patio. Windows may be opened to enjoy the fresh mountain air, or guests may adjust room temperature using the individual climate-control system found in each room. Enjoy spacious bathrooms with large tubs and marble surrounds before settling down to sleep on custom-embroidered linens and down pillows. Each suite incorporates a gas fireplace and a wet bar. Eye-catching original artwork hangs on the walls, creating a focal point for each room. Outdoor hot tubs, a lovely sun deck and a fully equipped fitness center make this an ideal place to rest and reinvigorate.

Time to dine? The all-pervading scent of fresh-baked cookies wafts from the kitchen throughout the day, keeping appetites whetted. Unique among all the Telluride restaurants, the Nook offers casual American cuisine in a lodge setting. Here, mom and dad can enjoy homemade tavern fare made from fresh, local ingredients while youngsters choose from among kid-friendly selections on the diverse children’s menu. From cozy meals to family celebrations, the Nook is ready to meet a variety of culinary needs.

Each pet guest receives its own personalized pet welcome on the front desk’s doggie chalkboard, a plush dog bed and a special pet tag that includes the hotel’s phone number, in case Fido can’t find his way home.

With an annual average of 300 inches of snow, Telluride boasts more than 1,700 acres of ideal skiing terrain perfect for cross-country or downhill skiing. At 4.6 miles long, the Galloping Goose is the longest of the ski runs in the area. During other times of the year, guests enjoy camping, hiking, jeeping and world-famous music festivals.

The Peaks Resort and Spa stars as one of the most relaxing resorts in the area. Here, guests may find privacy in rustic, yet chic, private cabins and condos or enjoy socializing in the luxurious hotel. Spacious rooms decorated in classic white, cream and chocolate décor feature opulent wood furniture. Each room features a large seating area with a queen-sized sofa sleeper and two full-size baths.

Guests are in for a special treat at Peaks Palmyra, where magnificent mountain views enhance gourmet, innovative cuisine prepared by the finest chefs; the restaurant’s emphasis on fine dining includes organic, regional and international flavors. For quick meals, the Steaming Bean coffee house is perfect, with its grab-and-go menu of light fare. Live music is performed most nights.

Lovers of the links may enjoy privileges at The Telluride Golf Club. Perched 9,500 ft. above sea level, the club is one of the highest in the world, and mountains surround the 18-hole course. For a different sports experience, try heli-skiing, a specialty of the hotel.

Colorado’s largest spa, The Spa at The Peaks, offers an extensive range of treatments, cardio machines, group fitness classes, dry saunas, Roman tubs, steam rooms and an oxygen lounge. The hotel’s fantastic, two-level fitness center also includes heated pools. Complete the experience with a manicure, pedicure and visit to the hair salon.

Pets are welcome at the Peaks Resort, where an on-site doggy spa awaits pampered pooches and all rooms are dog-friendly. National Geographic has granted the resort its special Paw of Approval recognition. This pet-friendly culture is found throughout the town of Telluride, which provides numerous special Puppy Parking spots where dogs can chill out in comfort. In addition, gondalas include cabins exclusively for pets.

As if the views alone are not enough, the charming ambience of The Fairmont Heritage Place, Franz Klammer Lodge is a don’t miss for Telluride visitors. This captivating lodge seamlessly combines a memorable residential experience with the personal and dedicated staff and amenities found only in the best luxury hotels. The Lodge is ideally located in the heart of Mountain Village, just steps away from the base of the world-class ski resort and the complimentary Gondola that connects the town of Telluride with Mountain Village.

Named after famed Austrian ski champ Franz Klammer, the lodge first opened in 1996 as Colorado’s first private residence club. Today, the pristine setting in a glacially carved valley surrounded by the San Juan Mountains is a must-see for anyone craving a memorable stay in a winter playground.

colorado-cool3An extensive $3 million refresh of the residences, Club Room and Fitness Center was recently completed, and today the unique property reflects the colors, textures and beauty of the region. The result is a fresh mountain feel with a contemporary vibe that guests are raving about. Each beautifully appointed two- or three-bedroom residence offers a fully equipped kitchen, living and dining area, washer and dryer, oversized bathrooms and a private balcony.  Lodge amenities include complimentary transportation to and from Montrose and Telluride airports, complimentary valet parking, 24-hour fitness center, indoor/outdoor pool, game room, business center and the popular — but private — Himmel Spa.

The European-style spa provides an exotic retreat, with services and treatments that will revitalize the body and nourish the spirit. The more adventurous can take advantage of everything Telluride — from downhill skiing or snowboarding, to dog sled tours, ice climbing, sledding and tubing, snowmobiling and so much more.

Truly a place that is designed to pamper, the attentive and enthusiastic staff makes sure that every guest will enjoy the comfort of a home away from home, minus the hassles of daily life. In this luxurious sanctuary, they make it their goal to deliver a memorable vacation experience that is part and parcel of the Fairmont brand.

Active holidays, winter sports, cultural events and designer shopping make Aspen, Vail and Telluride ideal year-round destinations for magnificent scenery, sumptuous dining and relaxing experiences for all ages.



in Front Range Hotels & Resorts/Hotels & Resorts by

Wow Factor Aplenty at the New Westin DIA

untitled-105-X3There’s a buzz going around about the brand new Westin at Denver International Airport (DIA). People everywhere are talking about it, much like when the airport opened 20 years ago on the plains northeast of the city. Back then, people mused about the unique design of the white fabric tents atop the terminal roof, which invoke the majestic mountains and the teepees of the Native Americans who lived on that very land.

Now people are asking, “Is it a boat?” “Is it a cruise ship?” Is it a mustache?” They are calling the new hotel many things. In truth, the sleek structure shimmering in the sun was inspired by the imagery of flight and aviation and meant to resemble a giant bird with extended wings hovering above the iconic peaks of the Jeppesen Terminal at DIA.

The innovative structure by the global design firm Gensler features a striking exterior entirely made of glass. Inside, floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows in each of the 519 guest rooms and 35 suites offer unobstructed views of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Range to the west, the expansive high plateau to the east, the terminal tents to the north and the transit center to the south. Even with that much glass, there is nary a noise from outside. “The windows are triple-paned, allowing for no noise disturbance,” says Laurie Meza, a spokeswoman for the hotel. The thick windows make the guest rooms quiet enough for a baby to sleep.

Interior of the new Westin DIA

The Leed-certified 14-story hotel and conference center opened November 19 and is like an oasis on the plains at the fifth busiest airport in the country and the 15th busiest in the world, with 53 million passengers passing through each year. Business travelers will love the conference center that features a three-story floor-to-ceiling glass curtain wall that provides calming views of the sweeping landscape in the spacious pre-function area. Two ballrooms, 15 meeting rooms with various dimensions and 19 break-out rooms complete the 37,000 square-foot facility that can hold as many as 2,500 people. Thirty-five suites, including 15 executive suites and two hospitality suites, complement the convenient resources for business clientele. With its ideal location in the middle of the U.S.—three hours by air from the East Coast and two hours from the West Coast—the hotel allows business to be conducted without anyone ever having to leave the grounds.

Heavenly Westin

Whether business or leisure travelers, guests in the streamlined contemporary rooms that occupy only the top eight floors of the building will find all the pampering amenities and latest technology that are signatures of the Westin, a member of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.  Beginning with the Heavenly® shower system that releases water like cascading rain, to the Heavenly® White Tea Aloe bath botanicals and extra-large luxurious cotton bath towels and robes in the bathroom, to the Heavenly® bed draped with 250-thread count crisp white sheets for a perfect night’s rest—all the comforts you expect from a Westin are there.  A top-floor fitness studio and indoor swimming pool with a hot tub help make a stay at the airport hotel both invigorating and relaxing. The domed-roof 6th-floor lobby is an airy gathering place with an urban feel for meet-and-greet activities.

Keyless entry

Members of Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program can bypass the front desk by opting in for the SPG keyless entry system, the new technology that was introduced by Starwood to the industry a year ago. SPG members can use their smartphones to check in, get their room number and unlock their door. The keyless technology works through the SPG app that can be downloaded for iPhone and Android by members with an SPG number. To become a Starwood Preferred Guest, go to

“Constantly seeking to fulfill our brand promise “For A Better You,” we are equally as excited to be offering Starwood’s latest SPG Keyless technology, redefining the traditional hotel experience and allowing guests to get to their hotel rooms quickly after a long day of travel,” said Tom Curley, general manager of the Westin DIA.


Three dining options are offered at the Westin: Grill and Vine, Ingredients and Sky Lounge. Grill & Vine is a tavern-style contemporary restaurant with American cuisine offering breakfast and all-day menus. “Complementing Westin’s core brand values, our menu supports wellness with simple, light, fresh foods while also focusing on locally sourced items,” said Jeremy Sullivan, director of food and beverage outlets. “Choose from our SuperFoods favorites or ‘simply grilled’ items. While the food plays a starring role, there is also a wide selection of fresh, handcrafted cocktails and a considerable wine program featuring 16 wines by the glass, including organic selections, that can be enjoyed at the large and inviting bar,” he said.  At the casual grab-and-go eatery called Ingredients, customers choose from a variety of healthy breakfast and lunch items to be made to order for eating on the go. And at the Sky Lounge in the hotel lobby, customers can enjoy small plates and quick bites with a cocktail, glass of wine or a beer.

Transit Center

Getting to downtown Denver from DIA (or DEN as the new logo now says) will be a breeze when the east rail line of Denver’s light rail system begins operating from the Denver Airport Station just outside the hotel’s entrance next spring. It will take only 35 minutes to travel to historic Union Station, the beautiful newly remodeled transit hub in the heart of downtown about 25 miles west. From there, guests can reach the city’s culinary scene, sports arenas, art galleries and shops on foot, bike, pedicab or via the light rail or 16th Street Mall shuttle. The stainless-steel electric rail cars on the east line are bigger and heavier than those on the rest of the system, running on 25,000-volt AC power instead of 750-volt DC power. The commuter train will travel at 79 miles per hour, versus the lighter cars’ speed of 55 mph. Its higher platforms flush with the train make it easy for passengers wheeling luggage and for those in wheelchairs and walkers to get through the doors. The east line will make six stops during its 23-mile trip to Union Station. It will leave every 15 minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes the rest of the time.

Perhaps the most convenient aspect of the new transit center is the ability for passengers to tag their luggage at a kiosk right there and drop it off for security screening and transport to their plane. Passengers can go directly to their gates without having to stop at the ticket lobby to check their bags.

Public Plaza

A gorgeous open-air public plaza the size of a football field and two basketball courts connecting the hotel with the terminal adds a dimension to the airport hotel not seen anywhere in the United States. The 82,000 square-foot space partially covered with a stunning glass-and-steel canopy that invokes Star Wars is Denver’s latest venue for art and exhibitions, entertainment, markets and shows of all kinds. It can accommodate as many as 2,000 people meandering about and as many as 4,500 for special events. The ease of getting there via the train is expected to draw visitors from around the metro area for events managed by Denver Arts & Venues.

Public Art

Thanks to Denver’s Public Art Program established in 1988, one percent of any capital improvement project more than $1 million must be set aside for art. Since its opening, DIA has maintained an active public art program; accordingly, the Westin and Transit Center displays artwork symbolic of Colorado’s landscape from mostly local artists selected through a competitive process.

Exterior installations include “Shadow Array,” an artful display of 250 beetle-kill spruce logs (the pine beetle has devastated forests throughout Colorado) above native grasses on the sides of the train platform by Denver artist Patrick Marold; “Air Field,” a wind-activated installation by California sculptor Ned Kahn in the open-air plaza; and “Water In All Of Its States,” a luminous design for the train hall and video imagery on the escalator walls between the train platform and the plaza on level 5 by Paris-based lighting artist Yann Kersalé.

Interior artwork, all by Colorado artists, can be viewed in the hallway of the hotel entrance and on the west and east walls of the pre-function area of the conference center. Mindy Bray created an abstract mural of the Platte River on the 150-foot-long entry walls; Wopo Holup’s three-dimensional aerial map view of the Colorado River on the west wall is made from water-jet cut aluminum; and on the east wall is Heather Patterson’s mixed-media landscape abstract on nine separate panels that create one large image.

Artwork of eight local artists is featured in all of the guest rooms and suites, commissioned and funded by the decorating budget of the hotel.

“Two of the main factors we considered in choosing the art were that we wanted to feature really unique artwork that speaks to the place and to showcase local artists who haven’t been seen much in public spaces,” said Kendall Peterson, hotel and transit center public art manager.


Lastly, the hotel is a boon to flatlanders who come to Colorado to ski. Staying one or two nights at 5,335 feet at the Westin DIA is the best way to acclimate slowly to the 8,000- 13,000-foot altitudes they’ll find at the resorts in the mountains. Racing up to the slopes right after landing at the airport is the surest way to bring on altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness, that can ruin a ski vacation.

“Denver’s International Airport’s new Westin Hotel, transit center, commuter rail connection and open-air plaza bring new amenities to our passengers that enhance their experience and help us remain competitive,” said DIA’s CEO Kim Day. “We look forward to sharing this new experience with passengers and showing them why sleeping at the airport just became ‘heavenly’.”

Author bio: Claudia Carbone is an award-winning journalist and native of Denver. She’s proud to be living in the city during these exciting times.

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