• The Amazing Views of Grand County

    FROM THE Winter 2013 ISSUE

    Grand gatherings-  With an abundance of diversions and amazing views, groups won’t mind repeat visits to Grand County. with an abundance of diversions and amazing views, groups won’t mind repeatvisits to Grand County.

There are so many places to meet and hold events in Grand County, you could visit every year and not exhaust them all.

Set high in the central Colorado Rockies just west of Denver, the area includes Winter Park, Granby, Grand Lake and a dozen smaller spots on the map. Two of the state’s premier guest ranches are here along with great ski areas, the state’s largest natural lake, enticing hiking and biking trails, hot springs resorts and one of the nation’s most spectacular national parks.

(Photo Credit: Snow Mountain Ranch)

Guest Ranches
C Lazy U Ranch, a luxury ranch resort with a rustic side, is ideal for groups of 80 or so people. It has 43 cabins as well as a villa that sleeps 11 and can host up to 30 people downstairs, informally, in the historic main lodge and 80 people upstairs. In the Patio House, there is auditorium seating for as many as 90, and cozier spaces are available for smaller groups.

Warm weather here means horseback riding (also in winter), swimming, tennis, bicycling, yoga, trap shooting, archery, hunting, hiking, fishing and paddle-boating. Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing is allowed in a nearby stream, or hone team skills with horseshoes, basketball, volleyball and bocce ball. Winter action includes snowcat skiing, snow tubing, sledding, hockey and ice skating on the ranch’s Zamboni-groomed pond. Or try snowmobiling, snowshoeing, horse-drawn sleigh rides and cross-country skiing.

Year-round, guests may attend workshops like dessert-making or wine-and-food pairing classes and visit the on-site spa.

(Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch)

C Lazy U Ranch has completed recent property-wide upgrades, including meeting facilities and services, and added a ropes course and zip line. Microsoft, the Denver Broncos and Colorado Rockies all have held retreats or meetings here.

Another popular ranch destination for groups is Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa. With the recent opening of the new High Lonesome Lodge, the ranch can handle up to 350 people for a meeting with lodge rooms and suites as well as one- to four-bedroom log cabins. Broad Axe Barn and High Lonesome Barn hold 200 to 350 people, respectively, and there is a private, 37-seat theater with video conferencing capability. Yager House is perfect for receptions and chef demonstration classes, and there are boardrooms and various small meeting rooms.

There’s plenty to do in any season. Use the zip line and ropes course for team-building, try your hand at most of the same activities enjoyed at C Lazy U Ranch, and at the end of the day visit the 18,000-square-foot Ranch Creek Spa or join complimentary yoga classes.

(Photo Credit: C Lazy U Ranch)

The ranch also is known for sustainable foods (local and organic whenever possible) and extensive microbrew and wine lists at Ranch House Restaurant and Heck’s. The Wine Grotto is the perfect place for an intimate dinner for 40.

Marissa Peede Buzan, director of business development for Andavo Meetings and Incentives in Denver, not only has recommended Devil’s Thumb to clients, but goes there with her company for meetings. "Clearly, if we’ve been back three times to the same venue, it speaks volumes," she says. "That just doesn’t happen in this industry. Everyone has a good time, and the food is excellent. We had a Dinner in the Field and it was fantastic."

Mountain Retreats
It’s not a ranch in the traditional sense, but Snow Mountain Ranch, owned by YMCA of the Rockies, offers some of the same atmosphere and amenities. Perhaps the largest venue in Grand County, the sprawling property "can comfortably handle groups of up to 1,500," says Martha Sortland, associate director for marketing and communications.

The venue hosts more than 700 groups a year, with 173 lodge rooms spread out among three lodges, cabins with two to eight bedrooms, campsites and yurts. With 43,000 square feet of meeting space (the largest being 18,000 square feet), conference services staff can assist with all planning, setup, catering and A/V needs.

(Photo Credit: Steve Z Photography)

Numerous activities offered in the peaceful mountain setting can be personalized for groups such as campfires, zip lines, ropes courses, ice breakers, guided hikes, horseback rides and Nordic ski lessons. There are the usual mountain activities and a swimming pool, plus close proximity to downhill skiing, dog sledding and ice skating.

"Groups looking for a good value love the one-stop-shopping aspect of Snow Mountain Ranch. Lodging, meals, activities and even rental equipment ... [they do] it all, making them a natural for group travel," says Carol Wilson, a group travel planner with The Slope/Education Overland, which has repeatedly booked First Church of the Nazarene from Wichita and Hutchinson, Kan., in recent years. "The fact that they keep returning year after year speaks for itself."

Granby Ranch is a resort/ski area with a lodge that often hosts meetings for up to 250 people. When including lodging partners, groups have access to 250 rooms and three meeting spaces that can accommodate most needs, and Granby Ranch Grill is available for private functions.

"Groups love Granby Ranch because they can experience the best of Colorado’s activities in one location," says Lisa Craig, marketing manager. The resort is home to family-friendly skiing, downhill and cross-country mountain biking and an 18-hole championship course. There’s also private fishing on Fraser River.

(Photo Credit: Snow Mountain Ranch)

Granby Ranch has hosted many active groups from Special Olympics and golf tournaments to foot and bike races and ski clubs with 20 to 100 members.

Resort Towns
Winter Park may be famous as a ski town, but visitors find it charming all year long. There are several options here, including Iron Horse Resort, with 88 sleeping rooms, four meeting spaces, a banquet room, close proximity to hiking and biking trails in summer and a great ski area in winter. Optimum group size is 120 for this full-service condominium hotel.

Or try Best Western Alpenglo Lodge, with 58 sleeping rooms and three function spaces that can accommodate up to 80 meeting-goers. It’s centrally located in downtown Winter Park, so guests can walk to more than 25 restaurants and clubs and have access to the same activities as Iron Horse.

Groups can convene at Winter Park Resort and enjoy mountaintop dining all year. In winter, of course, there’s skiing, snowboarding and a tubing hill with a warming house. Or take a snowcat tour if you want to see the scenery but don’t want to get cold. In summer, board a chairlift ride or whoosh down an alpine slide. The Trestle Bike Park lets cyclists take a leisurely ride or go off jumps and tackle tough trails.

(Photo Credit: Winter Park Resort, Chris Wellhausen)

At the resort, Vintage Hotel has three meeting rooms for up to 100 people each (a total of 2,220 square feet) and Zephyr Mountain Lodge has a cozy room with a fireplace that accommodates about 30. West Portal Station can hold up to 700 for day use. Additional lodging is available at Fraser Crossing and Founders Pointe or in the town of Winter Park.

Grand Lake, at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park, may be one of the state’s most scenic destinations. Consider Gateway Inn for a smaller meeting with its 31 rooms and two meeting spaces, one including a covered patio. This lovely log structure can handle groups of 150 (some staying in nearby accommodations) and has amazing views of Shadow Mountain Lake and Mount Baldy. When not in meetings, guests like to hike, bike, kayak, fish and take historic boat tours or ranger-guided walking tours during the summer, while snowmobiling, Nordic skiing and ice fishing make for perfect winter activities.

Hot Sulphur Springs Resort, located in a town by the same name, is a great place to soak cares away. With 17 motel units, the resort is too small for most groups to hold a meeting, but 20 pools and two private baths make it a relaxing spot for day trips.

Grand County has just about everything a visitor could want-pure Colorado in a nutshell.