By splashing your hand in the Colorado River on the Continental Divide, you change the course of nature. Water that would have gone to the Pacific Ocean now fl ows the other direction toward the Atlantic or vice versa. Corporations and businesses can effect a similar change by planning a meeting or event in Grand County. The “Great Divide” meanders through the county, which includes the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Hot Sulphur Springs, Kremmling, Granby and Grand Lake. It’s a region that off ers year-round activities, stunning scenery and two of the West’s best guest ranches.
Winter Park Resort is where the locals go to ski trails and bumps the size of baby elephants. It’s less than two hours from Denver, and in winter visitors can ride the Amtrak Winter Park Express train from Denver Union Station for an added experience.
While Winter Park does not have a traditional conference center and ballroom, the resort specializes in creating unique experiences. “Not many people can say their corporate retreat met in a rustic log building at the top of a mountain accessed by chairlift. Or that their team-building activity was sliding down a snow-covered, luge-like track on a tube or riding Colorado’s longest alpine slide,” says David Yoo, director of sales and revenue management for Winter Park Resort.
During the summer, Winter Park is carpeted with wildflowers and offers 600 miles of hiking and biking trails, backcountry hiking and outdoor music festivals. The resort’s nontraditional spaces include three buildings and six restaurants. These can accommodate from 20 to 500 and include Hill House, with its bright casual décor (maximum 40) and Vintage Hotel with 3,500 square feet divided into four separate rooms. The Lodge at Sunspot sits at 10,700 feet in elevation with views of the Continental Divide and can accommodate 300 total attendees across two rooms.
The small mountain town of Fraser is located between Winter Park and Tabernash. It stages the High Country Stampede Rodeo and also offers some of the state’s finest flyfishing. In summer, smaller groups up to 100 should consider the Elizabeth Kurtak Art Gallery with its elegant gardens and unique environment.
Back at the Ranch
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa, which overlooks Tabernash, is the perfect place to round out your group for team-building. Rachel Gothier, executive assistant for the factory manager at Vestas American Wind Technology, Inc., attended an event there this summer. She says, “We had a party of 13, so we were in both the main lodge and High Lonesome Lodge. We ate dinner at the Ranch House and had our meetings in both the Timber House and the Broad Axe Barn. We also did activities: zip lining, archery and a ropes course. The whole experience was amazing!”
The property’s signature restaurants serve Wagyu beef raised on-site, and additional activity options include air rifle biathlons, geocaching, Nordic skiing, winter fat tire biking, and ice skating. Devil’s Thumb can host up to 256 guests in two lodges, cabins and a bunkhouse, and two sister properties in nearby Winter Park are perfect for overflow and groups on a budget.
Attendees also rave about the 8,500-acre C Lazy U Ranch near Granby, which recently added the Latigo meeting room and Adega Wine room to its 8,463 total square feet of flexible meeting space that includes a twolevel converted hay barn, main lodge dining and living rooms, breakout rooms, and a stand-alone lodge and cabins. The ranch can handle groups of 10-90, but only from midAugust through mid-June, since it is in high demand with families in the summer.
Team-building activities at C Lazy U include a ropes course, zip line, and guided hiking and mountain biking. Horsemanship and cattle roping clinics are also available, as well as a sledding luge, cross-country skiing, tubing and ice skating in winter. C Lazy U can host lodgers in guest cabins, or a private four-bedroom, three-and-one-half bath home.
While it may be overused in common vernacular, the word “grand” fits the county and the lake within its borders. In fact, the town of Grand Lake, known as the snowmobile capital of Colorado, is the western gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a walkable, postcard-perfect town and has a historic boardwalk dotted with shops, restaurants and galleries.
Grand Lake Lodge boasts classic mountain architecture and is surrounded on three sides by the national park. It’s perched on a hillside overlooking the village, lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir, which can be enjoyed from the swings and rocking chairs on the sweeping front porch. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lodge offers four event spaces spread out over 8,000 square feet.
The sleepy mountain town of Granby has stunning views of the Continental Divide, a charming main street, trophy lake fishing and four world-class golf courses. Choose between The Inn at SilverCreek with 12,000 square feet of meeting and event space and Granby Ranch. The ranch sits at the top of the Continental Divide and can host 75 people indoors at Granby Ranch Grill, which is located next to the ski runs. It can also accommodate 180 in a tented reception on the golf course.
YMCA of the Rockies – Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby is a 5,100-acre property with views of the Continental Divide, yearround horseback riding, winter sleigh rides, a Nordic center and numerous other activities for all ages. The property can handle groups of up to 200 with guests housed in lodge rooms, cabins and yurts, with campsites also available.
Grand County is the perfect place to escape, try some mountain-style team-building, and look to the future. It’s also the kind of place to redirect energies. Kimberle Rupert, manager of global accounts/Presidents Club for HelmsBriscoe, says, “The Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Fraser Valley bring a peace to the soul.”