In Colorado's diverse landscape, travelers find themselves with a plethora of intimate, rustic, agrarian, mountain and lakeside inns. However, many small properties are not able to afford groups the space and privacy needed to host retreats, meetings and largerscale events. We have come up with five incredible options that are truly outside the corporate cubicle.
Della Terra Mountain Chateau, Estes Park
The moniker gives away the biggest draw of the Della Terra—it’s a castle—for guests. This 14-room chateau, located just a stone’s throw from Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), draws the romantics and adventurers. “We host between 150 and 180 weddings a year, but most certainly do a handful of corporate retreats each year as well,” explains co-owner Pam Amelang. “Corporate groups can rent our reception room with balcony that is 3,000 square feet and can hold groups of 200, in case others join those staying at our inn.” And there is a theater, breakfast area and balconies for breakouts.
She suggests booking corporate retreats early and in winter because it’s the least busy of the wedding season and neighboring RMNP is majestically covered in a white blanket of fresh powder.
Highland Haven Creekside Inn, Evergreen
Only 35 minutes northwest of Denver, this 18-room inn also boasts two meeting spaces. The Fireside Loft is 1,200 square feet with a separate bedroom and kitchen. There is also the Daily Cabin, a 500-square-foot space that is one of the oldest cabins in the county. However, many groups come for Gail Riley’s daily breakfasts. The owner and proprietor has written numerous cookbooks and is quite well known regionally for her breakfast repertoire.
“We have a variety of groups stay with us each year, everything from out-of-state pharmaceutical groups to public speaker retreats to team-building and strategic planning for local groups,” says Blake Alexander, corporate manager of Highland Haven. “It’s not cookie-cutter style here, rather, the grounds and the creek, which runs through the property, work great for breakout groups. There is one leadership conference that books annually for early August, and they stay for a week. Only breakfast is done here (other meals are catered), but it’s an intensive program. And just recently there was a construction company that came to stay the night and did a murder mystery for their team-building exercise; it was a huge success.”
Located across the street from each other in Durango and owned and redeveloped by a mother-son team, these two inns have a total of 26 guest rooms along with phenomenal spaces, both inside and out. For example, one corporation held a party in the Rochester Hotel & Bar’s large courtyard and main dining room. The costume attire was Roaring Twenties, the lights were aglow all along the perimeter of the gardens and the band’s energetic beat had everyone dancing.
“The courtyard is shaded in summer by century-old sycamore maple trees. We serve breakfast in the garden in the summer, and we host community concerts from our stage, providing 150 chairs and some dance areas, and usually have about 200 people in attendance,” explains co-owner Kirk Komik. The secret gardens are also ideal for smaller groups and outdoor sessions.
The main lobby of the hotel can host parties for approximately 75 standing. “We have a beautiful bar in the lobby that is tastefully designed with a touch of historic and a touch of modern. We have themed the hotel around Hollywood of the Rockies, and the hallways are lined with movie posters, lobby cards and movie stills for the 15 most popular films that featured Durango footage.”
Jesse Ogle, founder of Durango-based iAM Music, says, “We love having performances at the Rochester because of the ambiance and comfort of the space. The staff treats us great and the sound is also easy to contain.”
Mountain Goat Lodge, Salida
Upon arrival at this spacious bed-and-breakfast in Salida, one of Colorado’s banana belt communities, guests become acquainted with the owners’ herd of dairy goats. Gina Marcell and her husband, D’Arcy, utilize the goats for their tranquility, tasty milk production and their roles as lawn mowers, companions and much more. Plus, they are able to offer cheese making, goat care and raising backyard chickens classes.
The couple acquired the B&B five years ago and have transformed it into a retreat of two suites, four large guest rooms and four recently added retro campers equipped with all the necessities (available through September 30). Mountain Goat Lodge can easily accommodate 12 couples or singles for a gathering. The 20-acre property with sprawling views of the Collegiate Peaks works well for groups in all seasons with a campfire area, greenhouse with year-round produce, goat and chicken barn, and front lawn. There is indoor/outdoor seating for up to 25.
“We just hosted a wonderful retreat. We did four classes, a hike and a massage for each person attending. The classes were held outside, and the weather was gorgeous. My husband and I prepared wonderful meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the entire group,” Gina says. “Baby goats were born on Tuesday, and all the newborns could be observed bouncing in the pasture during the classes that were held in the morning at 8 a.m. and in the evening at 8 p.m., thus we got to cloud watch, see the sunset and hear all the birds chirping around us.”
Leroux Creek Inn & Vineyards, Hotchkiss
Located in Hotchkiss, there is a delightful vineyard run by a Frenchman Yvon Gros and his wife, Joanna. Located on 54 acres, they built a Southwest adobe inn among the vines. There are only five guest rooms, so this inn is primarily for small groups, but the grounds and inn can host many more for a day or evening event.
“We love doing local concerts here,” explains Yvon. “Most of our groups are five couples since we have five rooms. I will also do a dinner for them with local produce, meat and spirits. That’s the most popular, an entire inn buyout.”
The outdoor spaces are the most ideal for meetings and events with fountains, courtyards, a pond and a spacious deck. Indoors, a library and dining area provide varying spaces for communal events. “We truly did enjoy hosting a seminar for a CEO that takes over the whole inn for a few days. I cooked and did wine demonstrations and vineyard tours; it was a true boutique experience,” Yvon says.
Regardless of your meeting style, smaller properties offer more unique options than ever. From breakout groups by babbling brooks to cheese-making classes from an inn’s goat herd, Colorado’s most intimate offerings are now some of the best.