By Beth Buehler
As meetings and events are picking up steam again throughout the country, meeting planners are finding that lead times in terms of reserving accommodations and venues are once again getting longer. As a result, it’s never too early to start considering future seasons.
Great Reasons for Winter Gatherings
- Best of Both Worlds – Ever considered a city/ski town meetings combo? It’s very doable to get a dose of urban and mountains with Denver not far from ski resorts like Copper Mountain, Keystone, Breckenridge and Winter Park not far. A good example is the annual SnowSports Industries America (SIA) Snow Show in Denver that happens next on Jan. 28 – 31, 2016 at the Colorado Convention followed by the On-Snow Demo/Ski-Ride Fest at Copper Mountain Resort on Feb. 1 – 2. The Copper Mountain outing is coordinated in conjunction with the Western Winter Sports Rep Association, giving attendees and journalists the chance to try out equipment and experience the latest technologies for snowboarding, snowshoeing and alpine, backcountry, AT, cross-country and telemark skiing. Other conferences can take advantage of this combination by shuttling the group up to the mountains for a couple nights or offering it as an add-on.
- Ultra-Unique Outings – A lot of people in the world don’t have access to snow regularly, making a dog sled ride, sleigh ride dinner, and lunch on a mountaintop patio especially memorable. For example, try Hawk’s Nest deck at Vail Mountain for a mountaintop picnic as there even is a complimentary gas grill or Mamie’s Mountain Grill at Beaver Creek Resort to purchase and grill your own meats.
Cross-country ski, snowshoe or take a sleigh to Pine Creek Cookhouse, located 11 miles outside Aspen and available to host groups of up to 60 in winter or summer. Most ski towns have dog sledding operations, some that offer short outings or longer excursions that include lunch.
- Beyond the Ski Slopes – So you are worried that some of your group won’t want to downhill ski or snowboard? No problem. Ice skating, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling ice fishing and snowshoeing are some great alternatives for getting fresh mountain air and are fairly easy to learn and enjoy, plus there is nothing wrong with an afternoon of free time to explore local shops, attractions, breweries, distilleries and more. You can find all of these activities in most Colorado ski towns. The new Estes Park Events Complex provides additional capabilities to host groups year-round with Rocky Mountain National Park for less-busy visits in the winter.
- Sunshine Galore – It does take storms to produce snow, but the reward is amazing activities and clear blue skies in a state know for 300 days of sunshine annually. Front Range towns like Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Loveland can have a 60- or 70-degree day in the middle of winter!
- Winter Festival Fun – Think festivals are only for summer and fall? Think again as groups can plug into snowy celebrations like Ullr Fest in Breckenridge, Wintersköll in Aspen and Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs.
Plug into Colorado’s winter wonderland and your group will be asking for more! Start planning your winter group travel today!
Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.