Colorado Springs was named one of the top 10 emerging destinations in the world by Tripadvisor in 2021—and for good reason. It is hard to find a community in Colorado (let alone in the United States) that has launched more major projects since the start of this decade.
City for Champions
Long known for being home to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, there are myriad sports-related facilities of interest to groups in the city. The new $52 million Ed Robson Arena at Colorado College is a versatile and high-end state-of-the-art venue that hosts ice and non-ice events. There are windows throughout the arena delivering expansive views of the campus and mountains, a multipurpose room for meetings and classes, an outdoor plaza, and food and beverage cart options.
As part of the City for Champions initiative, Ed Robson Arena is one of two new or recently upgraded downtown sports venues that are near the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, which opened in 2020. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, a professional soccer team in the USL Championship league, began playing at Weidner Field in 2015 and invested $3.5 million to improve the city-owned facility. With more than 111,500 square feet of event space, Weidner Field can host up to 15,000 guests and offers an energetic atmosphere for meetings, tournaments, team building, festivals, and more.
If baseball is more your group’s style, Colorado Springs has that sport, too. The Rocky Mountain Vibes are part of Major League Baseball’s Pioneer Baseball League and play at UCHealth Park, which has a banquet hall, picnic terrace, and luxury suites that are ideal for a day or evening event at the ballpark.
Downtown Colorado Springs set a record with 37 new entities opened last year, including Hyatt Place, Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum, and several restaurants and breweries such as Bell Brothers Brewing, Red Swing Brewhouse, and Mash Mechanix Brewing Co. The dual-branded SpringHill Suites/Element recently opened downtown, and plans are in the works to revitalize the 100-year-old City Auditorium.
In the southwestern part of town, The Broadmoor opened Bartolin Hall in August 2021 with the Space Symposium, an event for the international and U.S. space industries, which returned to The Broadmoor in April 2022. Bartolin added 125,000 square feet to the resort’s convention complex, bumping the total space available at The Broadmoor to 315,000 square feet.
The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world’s highest-elevation cog railroad, has been climbing 14,115-foot Pikes Peak since 1891. The railway reopened in 2021 after three years of improvements, including new track and railway cars. At the top, the new Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center has interpretive exhibits, a gift shop, and indoor and outdoor dining areas.
“Our natural beauty and great climate allow planners to step out of the traditional meeting space and enjoy the great outdoors,” says Kathy Reak, CFMP, vice president of sales for Visit Colorado Springs. “Add in new attractions and improved air service, and Colorado Springs is so worth the trip.”
First Time in the springs
Quincy Compressor held its sales meeting at Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs, a Dolce by Wyndham Resort, with 225 company salespeople and distributors in attendance on Sept. 19-22, 2021. “We have sales meetings all over the United States, and we had not done one in Colorado yet. We visited a few resorts, including in Denver, and finally settled on Colorado Springs because of the breathtaking views,” says Quincy’s Marketing and Communications Manager Ashley Gates.
Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, in tandem with the company’s 100th anniversary, the gathering was postponed three times due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. “I plan large meetings multiple times a year, and this was by far one of the easiest for me, even though the guest count was high,” Gates says.
A big reason for choosing Cheyenne Mountain, she notes, was having plenty of options for meeting and event space on the 217-acre property. “We didn’t need to plan any off-site activities because the resort was able to transform each dinner event (three total) into a different experience each night,” Gates says. “Our days were packed from breakfast to dinner, and we don’t normally have the opportunity to go off-site, which was the driving factor in choosing Cheyenne Mountain.”
AMC Institute also met in Colorado Springs for the first time when hosting 180 attendees for its annual meeting at The Broadmoor on Feb. 16-18, 2022. “While we do have some members within driving distance, we found out that many of our members had never been to Colorado Springs before,” says Krista LeZotte, CMP, CSEP, DES, AMC’s vice president, meetings and education. A highlight was an event held at the resort’s Cheyenne Mountain Lodge, which provided “a great way to show Colorado Springs and the surroundings from a different view.”
The convenience of flying into Colorado Springs or Denver was a selling point, LeZotte says, along with the wide range of pre- and post-meeting options. “Many of our members extended their stays to take advantage of excursions, hikes, and other activities in the area. We also had some members choose to fly in and out of Denver to take advantage of other stays in Colorado,” she says.
“We were able to draw many local speakers from the area as our keynotes and capitalize on other Colorado sponsors for the event,” LeZotte adds. “It was one of our highest-rated meetings, and we were very lucky to have been able to host it in person.”
There is no shortage of unique properties that deliver accommodations, meeting space, and a range of activities or proximity to the action downtown, like The Mining Exchange, a Wyndham Grand Hotel, or The Antlers, a Wyndham Hotel. The historic Glen Eyrie Castle and Conference Center is nestled in more than 700 acres and features 93 lodging rooms and over 16,500 square feet of function space, while Garden of the Gods Resort and Club and The Club at Flying Horse deliver top-notch golf, spas, athletic clubs, and spectacular views to the meetings mix.
There is so much more to the Colorado Springs equation, and we didn’t even get to The Money Museum, National Museum of WWII Aviation, or the Space Foundation Discovery Center.
Activities & Attractions
Academy Riding Stables » Book one- and two-hour wrangler-led horseback rides through the mesmerizing red rock formations at Garden of the Gods Park. The park is a must-see regardless of how you choose to explore. academyridingstables.com
Adventures Out West » This outfitter is a one-stop shop for all sorts of adventures, including Segway tours, Jeep excursions, hot-air ballooning, biking, and hiking expeditions. Ziplining happens from Adventures Out West’s nearby Manitou Springs location. advoutwest.com
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo » Situated at an elevation of 6,714 feet, this 140-acre zoo has the distinction of being the highest zoo in America. It’s a treat to stroll the wooded grounds and gather in venues thoughtfully built to complement the landscape. One of the best parts is feeding the giraffes at eye level. cmzoo.org
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center » Located at Colorado College, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is the largest of its kind between Denver and Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is a museum, performing arts theater, and community art school all in one, and there is also a variety of great spaces available for rent. ac.coloradocollege.edu
Flying W Ranch » Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the ranch is an ideal place for memorable events and Old West pursuits for up to 900 indoors and 5,000 outdoors. There is a wide range of venues, activities, and food and drink options, and gatherings can feature Flying W Wranglers and other performing artists, private rodeos, western line dancing, blacksmith demonstrations, ranch animal activities, and team-building fun, as well as Navajo rug weavers, silversmiths, and dancers. flyingw.com
The Broadmoor, Seven Falls » Hiking provides the best views of the 181-foot drop of tumbling waterfalls located less than a mile from the resort. Groups can buy out the entire attraction or only 1858 Restaurant, currently open exclusively for private events. For the adventurous, the on-site Soaring Adventure has 10 ziplines that range in distance from 300 to 1,800 feet. broadmoor.com
Nearby Attractions » A little farther afield are Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, and Royal Gorge Route Railroad. wolfeducation.org; royalgorgebridge.com; royalgorgeroute.com