Photo by: Don Cudney

DENVER MEETING AND EVENT PLANNERS may not know it, but they have a highly influential supporter on their sales team: Mayor Michael Hancock.

COM+E: What should every meeting planner know about this city?

MH: Denver did it right. We built what has become the fifth busiest airport in the United States, which offers great accessibility to get here via direct flights from more than 180 worldwide destinations. We’re building a 500-room Westin at the airport and direct rail service that will link the airport to downtown with fast, convenient and inexpensive transportation starting in 2016.

Once downtown, Denver is a lively, walkable, clean, safe and fun urban center with 8,500 hotel rooms and 300 restaurants, all within easy walking distance of the Colorado Convention Center-a facility that is consistently ranked by meeting planners as one of the top five convention centers in America. When you add that downtown is filled with art and history museums, bike paths, shopping, music clubs, brewpubs and three sports stadiums, we’ve got everything a convention needs.

COM+E: For meeting planners who have never considered Denver for an event, what places would you suggest as an ideal get-toknow Denver day?

MH: Red Rocks Amphitheatre & Park is unique. It is only 12 miles from downtown and offers spectacular natural beauty at the base of the Rocky Mountains and was picked by Rolling Stone as the best outdoor concert venue in the nation.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science has wonderful space for meetings with outdoor decks offering gorgeous views over City Park and the Denver skyline.

Denver Art Museum also has a variety of different meeting spaces in the amazing Hamilton Building, which was the first structure in the United States designed by renowned international architect Daniel Libeskind.

Denver native Keisha Makonese’s passion for planning events dates way back. Her latest gig as director of sales and corporate events at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum began nine years ago. In this role, Makonese helps oversee an average of 150 private events at Wings Over the Rockies each year, from making meetings for 20 people to annual dinners for 2,000 fun and interactive experiences.


Chef Adam Vero joined Hearth & Dram in Denver as executive chef last year and recruited Jeff Hickman as his chef de cuisine. Both previously worked for TAG Restaurant Group, also located in Denver. The duo has created inventive new menus at Hearth & Dram and reimagined the “Whole Beast Feast,” a group dining event for 10-12 participants that is designed to showcase the eatery’s nose-to-tail philosophy. Five to seven courses are prepared on a sevenfoot, wood-fired grill and served family style to highlight the team’s culinary abilities and no-waste philosophy.


Doug Lane, the president and CEO of Fastlane Productions, has kept himself and his company at visionary status.