Nestled in a southwest Colorado box canyon and situated at 8,750 feet, Telluride is not only blessed with beauty, it’s earning a reputation as a great place to gather.
Telluride, a year-round destination known especially for spectacular skiing and riding and a slew of fair-weather festivals, has retained its historic charm and remained free of chain hotels, restaurants and shops.
Adding to the flavor is a free gondola that runs day and night, providing a scenic ride to Mountain Village and easy access to skiing and hiking trails.
In 1964, Telluride was designated a National Historic Landmark, setting the stage for the attractive and active downtown filled with shops and restaurants today and surrounding streets where Victorian homes and mining shacks intermingle.
There’s also more than 50,000 square feet of meeting space in the area, including the Telluride Conference Center situated at the heart of Mountain Village.
“In 2011, the Telluride Tourism Board will launch a series of value-added client services to assist meeting consultants in planning effective destination experiences,” shares Group Sales Director Todd Gehrke, CMM, CTIE.
Through the new initiatives, partnerships with MeetGreen and Meeting Metrics will help planners document return on investment and sustainability efforts, and experiential development tracks will offer engaging opportunities for adventure and community service, he says.
>>Staying & Meeting
An ornate copper entrance marquis, floor-to-ceiling picture windows and special touches by local artisans and designers make this venue Telluride unique.
The last two years have brought luxury brands to Mountain Village: Capella Telluride and lumière. Also, The Peaks Resort & Spa completed a $5 million renovation in 2010 and has the largest spa in Colorado.
Capella is known for its stellar customer service and amenities. With 9,000 square feet of meeting space (including a ballroom), an attractive spa and 100 hotel rooms and 23 suites and condominiums, Capella was a perfect match for The Opportunity Agenda, a nonprofit based in New York City and affiliated with the Tides Center.
Approximately 60 arts and culture, social justice and human rights leaders from across the country gathered for a retreat in late August.
In addition to utilizing the meeting space and hosting dinners at the on-site Onyx restaurant and Suede Bar, a private home and neighboring 9545 Restaurant, the group enjoyed a hike on Ridge Trail and a 4x4 Imogene Pass Tour, which was a huge hit, says Director of Development and Operations Jason Drucker.
Prompted to consider Telluride by a supporter of the organization, Drucker also was intrigued by the fact that “very few of our people had been to Telluride before (only 5 to 10 percent), which made it appealing to us,” he says.
“The combination of the hotel and landscape was unforgettable. … Telluride is so off-the-chart beautiful.”
Pampering and special touches also are hallmarks of the 30-room lumière, a boutique hotel perfect for executive retreats, incentive programs and social gatherings. An outdoor patio and hip bar work well for small groups looking for panache.
The Peaks Resort & Spa has updated common space and 174 guest rooms, including 35 suites and 14 penthouse condominiums. The property not only has 5,200 square feet of meeting space and a 42,000-square-foot spa with 44 treatment rooms, it offers slopeside access in the winter and is home to the Telluride Golf Club pro shop.
The resort also has introduced 15 luxury mountainside cabins featuring three to five bedrooms.
Other attractive options for group lodging in Mountain Village and Telluride include The Mountain Lodge, The Hotel Telluride, Fairmont Franz Klammer Lodge and several boutique hotel options such as the Hotel Columbia and New Sheridan Hotel.
>>More Great Venues
For an elegant experience, consider Allred’s, perched at 10,551 feet and accessed from the gondola’s midstation, for dinner or après ski. Floor-to-ceiling windows and outstanding cuisine will make it a night to remember for groups of up to 30 in the private dining room or 120 for an entire restaurant buyout.
For a more casual endeavor, the Hop Garden at the base village offers a Bavarian twist on all-American favorites and can hold 100 inside and another 90 outside.
The Silver Cup, a group of 40 to 50 friends that have met in a ski town every two years for nearly 20 years, gathered in Telluride for a friendly race and great food.
A barbecue on the deck of Gorrono Ranch, meals at Allred’s, helpful assistance from Telluride Ski Resort staff and rooms at Capella Telluride were highlights in Mountain Village.
“The most amazing part from a preparation standpoint was how the Tourism Board pulled together all the entities to make it happen,” says Dallas-based Karen Foster, who helped organize the event.
“By far our best event was dinner at 221 Oak Street in Telluride. We took over the whole restaurant one night, and it really stood out.”
Also in Mountain Village is La Piazza Del Villaggio Ristorante, serving Northern Italian cuisine with a seating capacity of 90 indoors and 300 outdoors.
In town, there are also great choices such as the wine cellar at Cosmopolitan Restaurant, upstairs balcony at Excelsior Café, Rustico Ristorante and New Sheridan Chop House Restaurant & Bar.
Three cultural venues can bring your event center stage. The 1913 Sheridan Opera House offers historic charm and 240 theatre seats, which can be removed to make room for tables.
The venue’s third-floor Vaudeville Bar accommodates approximately 60, and a main-floor gallery holds 50 to 75 seated or 100 standing.
Opened in 2004, the Michael D. Palm Theatre at the Telluride High School is a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility with a 667-seat theater and large main lobby. Ah Haa School for the Arts, located in the Depot Building along the river, has gallery space, dance hall, lecture rooms and several studios.
>>Teambuilding & Festivities
Through Telluride Teamworks at Faraway Ranch take advantage of indoor and outdoor alpine challenge courses for teambuilding.
Or consider timing your gathering with one of Telluride’s legendary festivals such as the Telluride Film Festival, Bluegrass Festival or Blues & Brews. Telluride offers an ambiance that your group will not soon forget.
The options are many, and the appeal is a meeting planner’s dream.
Written by: Beth Buehler