My favorite things about small group meetings are getting to know the others in attendance very quickly and enjoying unique activities that might not work for larger gatherings. Five journalists from around Colorado and the U.S. had the chance to explore Telluride recently, staying at Hotel Madeline in Mountain Village and dining at both on-site restaurants, SMAK Bar and REV. We were lucky to meet Chef de Cuisine Bud Thomas the first night and spend the next morning shopping at the Farmer’s Market and watching him prepare two tasty salads and an incredible berry dessert for lunch using produce and strawberries purchased at the market.  Bud is starting a hydroponic garden in the hotel’s basement and has produce growing outside the restaurants.

There are so many festivals during the summer in Telluride that the season has eclipsed winter in terms of tourists. If your group is meeting in Telluride, figure out ways to tie into this built-in form of entertainment. We brought a fabulous picnic breakfast to Town Park early one morning to watch the balloons lift off during Telluride Balloon Festival and returned later in the evening to watch the balloon glow on Main Street. 

Two additional restaurants that work well for groups are Cosmopolitan, located across the gondola station in Telluride and with a nice glassed in area toward the back that works well for private dining, and Allred’s, situated at the midway gondola station. It is hard to beat the stunning views from Allred’s large windows. The cuisine and cocktails at both places are excellent.

Another fun outing is a four-wheel drive Ophir Pass tour with Telluride Outside. We were unable to reach the top due to the amount of snow still on the mountaintops so we did a side trip to the top of the iconic Bridal Veil Falls as well. One thing I realized is that some people are not candidates for this type of trip if the road is narrow, bumpy and hugging the side of a mountain. For those who are, it’s a great way to get out into the backcountry without hiking.

The Spa at Hotel Madeline is offering a variety of treatments using ISUN’s wildcrafted, organic and natural products. ISUN is based in nearby Ridgway. I tried the Gemstone Ritual ISUN, which uses crystal energy wants and four gemstone-energized oils, and left totally happy and relaxed. 

Located just 9 miles apart, Aspen and Snowmass Village are renowned winter playgrounds and supremely vibrant communities in summer and fall. However, they are cut from different cloth, and interwoven with different vibes that also manage to complement one another.

 

Venues and vendors have elevated the Vail Valley into a full-service destination for meetings and events.

 

A growing number of fun activities, distinct venues and lodging properties well-suited for hosting groups has landed Aurora in the number 33 spot on Cvent’s list of Top 50 Meeting Destinations in the United States for 2019. This represents a nine-point increase from Aurora’s ranking last year and a 23-point increase from 2017, placing Colorado’s third largest city ahead of destinations like Fort Worth, Louisville, Portland, St. Louis and Kansas City. 

STANDOUT IDEAS FOR GROUPS