Meet the Winners!

Printer-friendly version
Shelly Steig
Colorado Meetings + Events Magazine
Issue: 
Spring 2013

With Colorado Meetings + Events’ Best of Colorado readers’ choice voting, there are no hanging chads, although some winners and finalists have hangnails from working so hard. There are no elephants and donkeys (except in the zoos) and no parties, unless you count those thrown by meeting and event planners. This year’s winners, duly and fairly elected by their peers, are the standing representatives in the state’s meetings and events industry.




PLACE

Picking a site is the first thing on the checklist for any meeting or event. With all Colorado has to offer, that can be a harder task than it sounds since the choices run the gamut from city-centered hotels to venues surrounded by wild animals. Speaking of beasts, two zoos top the list. Winner for four years in a row, the Denver Zoo recently 
stampeded into prominence with the addition of the 10-acre, Asian-themed Toyota Elephant Passage. The new exhibit’s walkways can be converted into a unique party layout.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is investing $13.5 million into its Encounter Africa exhibit that includes a huge elephant barn, mud wallows, a 20-foot waterfall and an African bush plane cantilevered from the top of the rhino exhibit to serve as a unique architectural element. Overlooking the new lion viewing area and the meerkat mob, Safari Lodge has a capacity of 50.

A newbie on the list, Coohills restaurant is owned and operated by Tom and Diane Coohill. With an emphasis on French and Mediterranean flavors, Coohills offers varying event space ranging from 28 seats to an entire buyout for 400 guests. The dining room’s flat-screen television comes equipped with audio-visual setup. Chef Tom Coohill, winner of the U.S. Chef’s Open, creates custom menus with Colorado-grown produce and meats.

The McNichols Civic Center Building is also new to the list, although it was first built in 1909. At one point a Carnegie Library, the building underwent several transitions until Denver Arts & Venues renovated it with an eye on making it a premier events and cultural center. More than $10 million will be spent to restore the building to its original grandeur and to add modern touches.

Winner Mile High Station also claims a fascinating history. This 1897 steel and ironworks plant features many original architectural elements such as old brick walls, I-beam steel structure and operational equipment. Contemporary touches include an elevated mezzanine, modern décor and an in-house audio-visual system. The station’s versatile spaces can accommodate from 100 to 1,200.

Spruce Mountain Ranch is making its second appearance in as many years. The working Black Angus cattle ranch sits on 400 acres in Larkspur and features Colorado-style décor and architecture. Options for meetings include The Colorado Room and Patio, which includes indoor and outdoor fireplaces, a stream, wildflower gardens and sand volleyball and tennis courts. The Ponderosa Room has a capacity of 1,200 reception style and has an indoor stage and VIP lounge. Albert’s Lodge offers a welcoming front porch, floor-to-ceiling fireplace, beverage station, full-service caterer’s pantry and private accommodations for VIPs.

Featuring panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and the Mile High City’s skyline, Denver Marriott City Center topped its competitors on this year’s list. The hotel houses 27 meeting rooms for a total of 30,000 square feet of function space, including the 14,500-square-foot Colorado Ballroom that seats up to 2,500.

While The Broadmoor has won five straight years, there is plenty new to talk about. The grande dame is in the midst of a $60 million renovation due in April 2014. This includes expanding restaurant space, providing new dining opportunities, updating décor and adding an activity center with bowling lanes, billiards and board games. The most exciting addition is The Ranch at Emerald Valley, a satellite property with nine cabins and a 14-bedroom lodge in Pike National Forest. This retreat is 20 minutes west of The Broadmoor’s main campus and was once the private getaway of founder Spencer Penrose.

The Winners
Best Attraction Denver Metro Area
THE WINNER IS:
DENVER ZOO
RUNNERS-UP // Denver Art Museum, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Best Attraction Outside Denver Metro Area
THE WINNER IS:
CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN ZOO
RUNNERS-UP // Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, Rocky Mountain National Park

Best Restaurant with Meeting/Event Space
THE WINNER IS:
COOHILLS
RUNNERS-UP // Mangia Bevi Café, Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar (tie), Restaurant Kevin Taylor (tie)

Best Historic Venue
THE WINNER IS:
MCNICHOLS CIVIC CENTER BUILDING 
RUNNERS-UP // The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa, Mile High Station

Best Meeting/Event Space (No Hotel) Denver Metro
THE WINNER IS:
MILE HIGH STATION
RUNNERS-UP // Denver Zoo, Colorado Convention Center

Best Meeting/Event Space (No Hotel) Outside Denver
THE WINNER IS:
SPRUCE MOUNTAIN RANCH 
RUNNERS-UP // Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Crooked Willow Farms

Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/ Event Space in Denver Metro
THE WINNER IS:
DENVER MARRIOTT CITY CENTER
RUNNERS-UP // Embassy Suites Denver - Downtown/Convention Center, Four Seasons Hotel Denver

Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/ Event Space Outside Denver Metro
THE WINNER IS:
THE BROADMOOR 
RUNNERS-UP // The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa



SUPPORT

While there are many superstars in the industry, even the best sometimes need support, which often plays out as personal service and an emphasis on going the extra mile. Convention Designs is an excellent case in point. Owner 
Heather Sullivan continually asks her staff of six, “How can we ‘third egg’ our client?” It’s a philosophy she adopted after hearing about a restaurant that earned rave reviews for adding a complimentary third egg to a two-egg omelet. Sullivan also emphasizes treating her clients as friends and building on previously established relationships. Obviously, this philosophy works since perennial winner Convention Designs reigns this year in two categories: planning (winner four out of five years) and destination management. Sullivan’s company had a banner 2012 year, providing services for both Democratic and Republican national conventions.

The Visit Denver marketing team has topped its category all seven years. Julie Dunn, president of Dunn Communications, says, “They do a fantastic job of promoting Denver as a tourist destination. The PR team is great to work with in every regard-from hosting out-of-town travel writers to building buzz for fun events, holidays and special exhibits.” Denver saw a tourism increase across the board in 2012, including the number of people booking the Colorado Convention Center, as well as the number of attendees. Also, October 2012 was the best October in Denver’s history for meetings and events.

Making its second appearance on the Best Of winners’ list, Vail Valley Partnership generated a record number of group and meeting leads for its lodging partners in 2012. The partnership abides by its name and regularly teams up with Vail, Beaver Creek, Eagle County and private industry people to bring visitors to the valley. After seeing a 27 percent increase in group visitation over the previous year, the nonprofit organization will add two new sales managers in 2013.

The Winners
Best Meeting/Event Planning Company
THE WINNER IS:
CONVENTION DESIGNS 
RUNNERS-UP // Pink Paisley Events, Arrangers

Best Destination Management Company (DMC)
THE WINNER IS:
CONVENTION DESIGNS
RUNNERS-UP // Arrangers, Destination Services Corporation (DSC)

Best Destination Marketing Organization in Town/Area 25,000+ Population
THE WINNER IS:
VISIT DENVER
RUNNERS-UP // Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau, Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau

Best Destination Marketing Organization in Town/Area Less Than 25,000 Population
THE WINNER IS:
VAIL VALLEY PARTNERSHIP 
RUNNERS-UP // GoBreck, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association



SERVICE

Hats off to organizations that assist with the important details, the fine points that add flair and the truly memorable touches. J&S Audio Visual, a seven-time winner, has turned heads by providing not just technology, but also unique designs for stage setups, backdrops and screens. “Jennifer Winget and Sidney Stoper are two of my favorite people in the industry,” says Heather Van Benschoten, director of sales for ARAMARK at Coors Field. “Their enthusiasm and dedication shine through to produce 
spectacular customer service.”

All Digital Photo & Video tops its category for the fourth year in a row. A satisfied client wrote, “I recently used All Digital Studios for my daughter’s bat mitzvah and was thrilled with the outcome! We rented a photo booth, and it was one of the highlights of the event. I would recommend All Digital Studios without hesitation.” The company also provides up-lighting for special events.

Donna Horii, director of sales for GoBreck, says Footers Catering “always provide fabulous service, great food and, most importantly, always a good attitude!” A second-generation, family-run business, Footers offers a food station setup or full sit-down meals including Italian, Greek and Asian fusion fare.

To maintain freshness, all dishes are cooked onsite in a temporary kitchen.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s exclusive caterer, Taste Of The Wild Catering, conjures up fancy feasts among the beasts. Award-winning executive chef Nathan Dirnberger creates unique menus ranging from sit-down meals to buffets, picnics and hors d’oeuvres.

Maybe they won’t always admit it, but other Colorado talent agencies look to Talent West when they need a performer with an unusual or peculiar forte. If they need a yo-yo artist? They’ll find it. A snake charmer? Yep. A lawn chair drill team? Done. With top performers in every imaginable field, Talent West also offers a five-hour-long interactive Civil War re-enactment experience including costumes and props for several hundred participants.

DesignWorks, which is on a four-year win streak, has a seal of approval from Nicole Marsh, president and CEO of Arrangers. “We nominated DesignWorks because they are a true partner when it comes to creativity, design, décor and floral. Their team always rises to the challenge, whether a last-minute request, a new theme or a challenging venue.They make it happen time and time again with flexibility, style and a flair only found from DesignWorks!”

The name Event Rents might sound familiar, since the company has won the rental category all seven years. Ask anyone why, and they’ll probably point to the company’s philosophies. Event Rents never loads an order without every item being counted twice. It’s also known for keeping supplies in pristine condition, an important detail when making a good impression at a high-visibility meeting or event.

People will know you have arrived when you get there in style. That’s where Presidential Worldwide Transportation comes in. The company provides on-the-ground rides and jet charters. Joan Mazak, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation Inc. of Colorado, writes that “attention to detail and the true caring nature of the entire staff” make Presidential the company of choice for her organization. “If you are looking for reliable, dependable, trustworthy and detail oriented, look no more. To us, they are priceless.”

The Winners
Best Audio-visual/Visual Presentation Provider
THE WINNER IS:
J&S AUDIO VISUAL
RUNNERS-UP // Fastlane Productions Inc., Image Audiovisuals

Best Photographer/Videographer
THE WINNER IS:
ALL DIGITAL PHOTO & VIDEO 
RUNNERS-UP // Free Lunch Photography, Image Factory Photography

Best Caterer Denver Metro
THE WINNER IS:
FOOTERS CATERING
RUNNERS-UP // Epicurean Catering, Catering by Design

Best Caterer Outside Denver Metro
THE WINNER IS:
TASTE OF THE WILD CATERING
RUNNERS-UP // A Spice of Life Catering, Biscuits & Berries

Best Entertainment (Performer or Talent Agency)
THE WINNER IS:
TALENT WEST
RUNNERS-UP // Starkey Entertainment, Borrillo Entertainment

Best Event Décor/Florist
THE WINNER IS:
DESIGNWORKS
RUNNERS-UP // Pure Energy Events, T’DA Design and Production

Best Rental Service Provider
THE WINNER IS:
EVENT RENTS
RUNNERS-UP // Butler Rents, Party Time Rental, Inc.

Best Transportation
THE WINNER IS:
PRESIDENTIAL WORLDWIDE TRANSPORTATION 
RUNNERS-UP // Horizon Coach Lines, Jay’s Valet


Related Content

Meetings + Events E-newsletter Sign Up