By Andrew Heidt
When groups host a meeting in Colorado, there’s a feeling that’s nearly palpable: attendees are dying to get out and connect with all that beautiful Colorado scenery, breathe the fresh mountain air and try something new. Here are a few ideas for group activities that are perfect for Colorado meetings.
Hot Air Ballooning
There’s a special camaraderie that forms between guests when they are drifting peacefully above the gorgeous Colorado landscape in a hot air balloon. You get a completely unique perspective, whether you’re between the walls of a high alpine valley or gliding along with a dramatic view of the Rockies. The baskets on most hot air balloons accommodate at least 10 passengers, and many hot air balloon companies have multiple rigs that can be launched simultaneously, making for a great group endeavor.
Plus, there are balloon festivals that can provide extra lift for meetings such as the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo in Steamboat Springs in July and Colorfest Balloon Rally in Pagosa Springs and Snowmass Balloon Festival, both in September.
Volunteering at Local Farms
Many organizations are finding that their group has the power to make a difference, do some team bonding and accomplish some of their corporate responsibility goals all at the same time during a conference. Colorado’s friendly farms are a perfect place for this. In Boulder County alone, there are more than 850 farms. Several open their gates to groups for a fun day in the fields, learning about Boulder agriculture’s unique relationship with public lands and how the food makes it ways onto plates in some of the state’s most acclaimed restaurants.
Guided Fly Fishing
During a small tradeshow event I attended in Telluride, fly-fishing lessons were offered as an optional group activity. Several of us jumped at the chance. Surrounded by clear, rushing water and jaw-dropping mountain views, we all learned all the basics of fly fishing (not as easy as you might think!) and walked away with a sense of connection with nature you don’t get during the everyday grind. Nearly every Colorado meeting destination has a stream nearby for fly fishing, whether it’s the Boulder Creek running right through the heart of town or the Gold Medal designated waters of the Roaring Fork near Aspen. Just ask the local convention and visitors bureau for outfitter recommendations.
Mountain Resort Golfing
Colorado resort towns that are famed for their skiing in winter often are home to renowned golf courses in summer that welcome groups with open arms. During an industry networking event I attended in Steamboat Springs, we were treated to a group outing for approximately 75 golfers. The wildlife was out and about along the course, and we even saw a black bear in the distance! An unexpected bonus: your golf ball will actually fly farther in Colorado’s high-altitude locales than at lower elevations.
While I’ve talked a lot about the quintessential Colorado experience involving the outdoors, you may also want to mix in a few leisurely activities for attendees, too. As one of the largest producers of craft beer in the country, Colorado is the ideal place for a behind-the-scenes brewery tour. Your group can sample fresh brews and learn about how water from Colorado’s streams makes for better beer. A few great tours I know of include Avery Brewing Company’s new, state-of-the-art facility and gorgeous taproom in Boulder; the lively and friendly Odell Brewing Co. in Fort Collins; Denver’s Great Divide Brewing Co., makers of DPA (Denver Pale Ale); and the personality-filled Ska Brewing Company in Durango.
There are so many more ways to infuse unique Colorado activities into your meeting — skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, food tours, gold mine tours, history tours—that the possibilities are nearly limitless. Whatever you choose, your attendees are sure to appreciate the change of pace, fresh air and authentic Colorado experiences.
Andrew Heidt has spent the last 12 years in the convention and visitor bureau world and has achieved the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation from the Convention Industry Council. Andrew can be found enjoying the Colorado outdoors, skiing as much as possible and giving triathlons a shot. He is currently Director of Group Sales and Marketing for the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau.