By Beth Buehler
Colorado is a year-round destination, appealing as an incentive travel locale in any season. However, one of the most alluring seasons for recognizing high-achieving employees and valuable customers is winter, especially trips to mountain destinations with well-known names like Winter Park, Aspen, Estes Park, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. Here are a few thoughts about how to make a Colorado winter incentive travel trip memorable and rewarding.
Learn to ski or snowboard – or take attendees’ expertise to a new level. Divide up the group by level, offer lessons or mountain guides, meet up on the slopes or at the base area for lunch or après ski, and hire a photographer to catch people in action. Provide a gift certificate to a local ski shop to pick out gloves, goggles or a hat or give a logoed base layer at check-in.
Offer options for non-skiers and boarders – as not everyone feels comfortable flowing with gravity down a slope or riding high above the ground on a chairlift or gondola. It is magical and easy for most to snowshoe trails in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, glide down the hill in a tube, try dog sledding in places like Crested Butte and Snowmass. Or while everyone else is out in the winter wonderland, treat non-skiers to a day at the spa.
Take to the ice – as its fun for all ages, especially if kids are along for the journey, to ice skate on the outdoor rinks in Vail and Telluride. In some areas of Colorado groups can even learn to ice climb or gain winter driving skills in fast cars.
Sleighs and bikes, both are nice – one for riding to dinner pulled by horses or snowcat and the other for exploring trails. Various ranches and ski resorts offer sleigh ride dinners, and fat bikes are essentially mountain bikes with huge wheels that are a new twist on outdoor fun in Colorado. Several ski areas also now have snow bikes that glide down the slopes on skis instead of wheels!
Incentive travel should be something different and filled with new and exceptional experiences. Colorado winters are truly something special and sought after from people around the globe. Instead of rolling out a red carpet for special guests, consider white as your color of choice!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events, enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons and lives in a ski town.