Here's who has been crowned the winners and runners-up of the Colorado Meetings + Events Best of 2020 readers' choice awards. Congratulations!  

Best Brewery/Distillery/Winery with Event Space 
Bigsby's Folly Craft Winery & Restaurant 

The Setting:
» Beautifully restored building that dates back to 1886
» Thirty-foot exposed timber ceilings, original brick walls, oversized chandeliers and an abundance of natural light
» More than 7,000 square feet and six event spaces accommodate groups from 10 to more than 300 guests
» Full-service venue with customized food and beverage (wine, beer, spirits) menus

COM+E: What makes your business distinct?
BF: Most of the other wineries, breweries and distilleries can only serve their products. We have a full liquor license. Other venues need to partner with food caterers, but we have a full kitchen capable of creating a fully customized menu, from buffet and passed to seated and family-style. We hosted over 200 events last year, including corporate meetings, wedding ceremonies and receptions, rehearsal dinners, conferences, trade shows, showers, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and more.

Runners-up: Breckenridge Brewery; Great Divide Brewing Co.

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Best Audio-Visual Provider
J&S Audio Visual 

COM+E: What are some recent standout moments?
JSAV: “Two local events stand out: The National Jewish Health Beaux Arts Ball at the Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center, where we partnered with Imprint Group and Design Works to bring a mid-century circus to life. We also were honored to produce the ALHI 20th annual Industry Executive Council at The Broadmoor.”

COM+E: What sets your company apart?
JSAV: “What makes us the choice in event production is the high value we place on customer partnerships. We believe that a successful event is the culmination of solid teamwork, the sharing of ideas, a commitment to quality and innovation and outstanding customer service.”

Runners-up: Image Audiovisuals; PSAV

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Best Hotel, Resort Or Ranch With Meeting/Event Space (In Denver Metro)
Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center 

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 1,501 guest rooms, including 114 suites
  • 317 guest rooms to be added through $80 million expansion to wrap up in early 2022
  • 517,000-plus square feet of exhibition, meeting, pre-function and outdoor space
  • 78 breakout rooms
  • 69 event rooms
  • 8 food & beverage outlets
  • 17 rooms at Relache Spa and Salon 22,000 square feet of aquatic experiences

Event Snapshot: Grand opening event in March 2019 with 250 key meeting planners and a private concert by Darius Rucker. The 35,000-square-foot Adams Ballroom was transformed into a contemporary-style campfire space for the concert, emphasizing Colorado’s adventurous spirit in an elevated way. Glamping elements were added throughout the ballroom, including a tented stage with ambient lighting.

Runners-up: Four Seasons Hotel Denver; The Brown Palace Hotel & Spa

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Best Caterer (in Denver Metro)
Biscuits & Berries Catering 

Standout Moment: “What truly stands out the most is when we’re given the chance to make a difference. This year we were humbled by the opportunity to partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Hospital and Special Olympics for amazing benefit galas. All truly memorable moments for our team.”

New Services: “Stemming from our commitment to constant innovation, we are always offering new ways to wow guests like our Fire and Ice Sashimi Station, our Honeycomb Carving Station or any of our interactive dinnerscapes.”

Runners-up: Epicurean Catering; Footers Catering

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Best Arts & Cultural Venue
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

Quick Glance: Not only is Red Rocks a world-renowned concert venue, the 30,000-square-foot visitor center houses a full-service restaurant, interactive displays, history of the venue, Performers Hall of Fame and event spaces that combine the property’s natural beauty with the excitement of live music.

Event Spaces: The Rock Room, Southwest Heart of the Rock Theatre, Ship Rock Grille, Upper Terrace, and Trading Post Backyard

Runners-up: Denver Botanic Gardens; Mission Ballroom

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Best Restaurant With Private Dining Space 
Coohills Restaurant 

Capacity: Full custom-seated dinners and cocktail receptions for 10 to 400 guests and capability to serve seven events simultaneously. Ability to host up to 600 guests using the adjacent Wewatta Bridge.

Standout Moments: Large private buyouts with aerial acrobats suspended from the bridge offering aerial bartending and doing live fire performances.
 
COM+E: What sets your company apart?
Coohills: We are a full scratch kitchen featuring house-made breads, pâtés, charcuterie and pastries, and we partner with local farmers and locally sourced vendors for our products. We are the only restaurant that sits along Cherry Creek in downtown Denver, featuring nightly sunsets and mountain views through our floor-to-ceiling windows.

Runners-up: Guard & Grace; Wynkoop Brewing Company

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Best Convention/Conference Center
Denver Convention Center 

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • 584,000 square feet of exhibit space
  • 63 meeting rooms totaling 100,000 square feet 35,000-square-foot Four Seasons Ballroom 50,000-square-foot Mile High Ballroom
  • 5,000-seat Bellco Theatre
  • 1,000 parking spaces
  • 11,000-plus hotel rooms within walking distance

Upcoming Expansion:
» Up to 80,000 square feet of new meeting and ballroom space
» Addition of more than 100,000 square feet of new pre-function and service space that includes a 50,000-square-foot outdoor terrace on the roof of the existing convention center
» New and improved networking spaces that capture the spirit of Denver and Colorado
» Technology improvements that keep pace with current technologies and demand, including increased capacity for Wi-Fi and streaming video

Runners-up: Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center; Keystone Conference Center

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Best Caterer (Outside Denver Metro)
A Spice of Life Catering + Events 

Giving Back: For several years, A Spice of Life has hosted an annual Farm-to-Table Dinner at The Lyons Farmette and donated all ticket proceeds to PRIDE, a nonprofit dedicated to rural improvement and development in Ethiopia. Recently, co-owner Dan Bruckner and his family traveled to Ethiopia to witness the impact of a project that provided clean running water to more than 600 schoolchildren and teachers in the remote mountains.

Sustainability Initiatives: “As of 2019, we discontinued carrying single-use plastic water bottles and plastic beverage stir sticks and began collecting and recycling poly-plastic bags to remove them from the landfill-bound waste stream. After extensive research, we were able to source an alternative to plastic water bottles: an infinitely recyclable all-aluminum bottle!”

Runners-up: Garden of the Gods Catering + Events; Taste of the Wild Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

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Best Destination Management Company 
Imprint Events Group

Headquartered in Denver, Imprint offers a full array of DMC services in addition to meeting and event management, branding and design, production and in-house entertainment. Imprint also has offices in Vail/Beaver Creek, Orlando and Las Vegas and continues to grow, adding 13 people to its team in the last year and producing more than 1,100 programs  and events annually. A Digital Division offering graphics, branding, design and video services was recently launched.

Quotable: “Six years after the formation of Imprint, we continue to reinvent and challenge ourselves and our team daily to provide thoughtful and innovative solutions for our client’s meeting and event needs.” – Nicole Marsh, Partner

Runners-up: ACCESS Destination Services; Convention Designs

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Best Event Décor/Floral
The Perfect Petal 

Standout Moments from 2019:
» “Children’s Hospital gala was a study in shimmering heights and depths. Using absolutely no perimeter lighting décor, we were able to create drama and power using concentrations of marbled glass and raised candlelight.”
» “The opening party of Mission Ballroom and the Museum of Contemporary Art gala were equal and opposite in their alt-angst driven color palettes and play with hardware, construction site mate- rials and extreme angles.”
» “The massive cinematic installation of holiday scenes at the Gaylord Rockies.”

What’s New: “Expanded production spaces in 2020 will allow for even larger events and deeper hard-good inventory for never-before-seen vessels and designs. We are adding in custom-hued, repurposed pillar and floating candles for all of our event clients’ needs.”

Runners-up: Design Works; Newberry Brothers

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Best Holiday Party Venue
The Broadmoor 

The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs goes all out for the holidays with an abundance of yuletide décor, happenings, entertainment and incredible works of gingerbread art. On the main campus, a huge array of meeting and event venues and private dining spaces can be booked for holiday gatherings, as well as nearby options such as Seven Falls, Cloud Camp and the newly remodeled Mountain Clubhouse, all with big views.

Until recently, Mountain Clubhouse was only available to golfers taking a break and enjoying a bite in the rustically elegant rock-and-timber building. The inside of the space has been totally redesigned to keep an intimate clubhouse feel that’s ideal for approximately 100 guests, and the outdoor patio can hold up to 300 during fair-weather months. In the winter, dinner can be set inside for up to 50 guests, while outdoor fire pits can help wrap up the evening with toasted marshmallows and s’mores

Runners-up: Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa; Spruce Mountain Ranch

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Best Meeting/Event Planning Company
ACCESS Destination Services

Highlights from 2019:
» National Apartment Association’s Urban Adventure - Denver’s Sculpture Park was turned into an urban outdoor playground showing guests the best of what Colorado has to offer.
» Lease Labs’ Down the Rabbit Hole - Mile High Station was brought to life with eclectic colors, dense greenery and a whimsical, weird and eerie feel.
» Thomson Reuters - Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum was transformed from a WWII-era hangar into an evening of Colorado exploration. From Denver “rooftop” decks and jerky tastings to roaming beer bikes and a performance by the Flying Aces, the event soared above expectations.

Quotable: “What I like to do when I am diving into all of the details for an event is to actually step into our guest’s shoes. When I do this, I find that it creates a better experience and brings the event to the standards that each client’s guests specifically desire.”
– Kirstin Francis, Senior Creative Account Manager

Runners-up: Imprint Events Group; Kinsley Meetings

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Best Hotel, Resort or Ranch With Meeting/Event Space (Outside Denver Metro)
The Broadmoor  

What’s New:
» The Broadmoor’s new exhibition space, slated for completion this spring, encompasses more than 125,000 square feet and has 32 associated breakout rooms. The exhibit hall exterior matches the Italian Renaissance style of the resort, but the interior is less formal and designed to accommodate trade shows, exhibits and new product launches. It is exclusively available to multipurpose exhibits and events held in conjunction with The Broadmoor for multiday conferences, such as the Space Symposium, the planet’s largest space trade show.
» The new exhibit hall, along with the existing Broadmoor Hall, International Center and Colorado Hall, will comprise “The Broadmoor Event Center” featuring more than 315,000 square feet of gathering space.

Runners-up: Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa; Spruce Mountain Ranch

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Best Entertainment Agency
Imprint Entertainment 

Standout Moments from 2019: Produced the industry showcase event for Mission Ballroom when it opened in summer 2019, and rebranding from Dance Trax to Imprint Entertainment.

COM+E: What sets your company apart?
IE: “With our internal resources and diverse team, we are able to tailor entertainment offerings from custom lyrics and delivery to unique staging, branding and choreography. We’re beyond blessed to surround ourselves with a ridiculously talented team of producers, entertainers and talent that go out and give their heart to each and every client we work with.”

Runners-up: 5 Star Talent and Entertainment; Elite Entertainment

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Best Outdoor or Rooftop Venue
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre

COM+E: What sets your venue apart?

Denver Arts & Venues: Nothing says ‘Colorado’ like the setting of Red Rocks Amphitheatre, combined with the fact that you receive impeccable service, food and beverage all paired with unparalleled views and surroundings; it truly makes a private event at Red Rocks stand apart.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Date Opened: June 15, 1941 Amphitheatre Seating Capacity: 9,525 Elevation: 6,450 ft.
  • Red Rocks Mountain Park: 738 acres
  • National Historic Landmark: 2015

Runners-up: Denver Botanic Gardens; Spruce Mountain Ranch

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Best New Venue (Opened Between Oct. 1, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Mission Ballroom 

AEG Presents owns and manages several major concert venues in Colorado that are available to host special events, including Mission Ballroom, 1STBANK Center, Fiddler’s Green, and the Ogden, Gothic and Bluebird theaters. Launching in August 2019, Mission Ballroom is the first new major indoor concert venue to open in Denver in many years. “In the first five months, we have hosted numerous convention parties, fundraising events, film festivals and celebrations. We are a world leader in concert and entertain- ment production and venue management, bringing the best capabilities and unique venue locations to provide the most memorable event experience.”

Runners-up: Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center; Ironworks

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Best On-Mountain Venue
Beano's Cabin

Beano’s Cabin is a feast for the senses. With an open lawn and wraparound deck at the foot of Grouse Mountain, it
is a ballroom under the stars. Inside, vaulted ceilings and antler chandeliers add to the warmth of a stone hearth and serve as a backdrop for seated meals that can include up to 150 guests. In winter, Beano’s is accessible only by an open-air sleigh pulled by a snowcat, which is half the fun! In the summer, it’s via horseback, wagon ride or shuttle.

The location of the legendary restaurant was once a lettuce patch and Frank Bienkowski (a.k.a. Beano) was an original settler and longtime farmer. Beano’s can be reserved for group reservations or a full buyout.

Runners-up: The 10th-Vail Mountain; TenMile Station

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Best Renovation Project At Hotel Or Event Venue (Completed Between Oct. 1, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort 
 
A $25 million makeover of Vail Marriott Mountain Resort’s guest rooms and meeting/event spaces infused modern amenities and Vail sophistication into the landmark property. The Grand Ballroom, Grand Foyer and Colorado Ballroom are sporting new and refreshed looks, and a new outdoor veranda has a bar, fire features and private settees for après everything geared toward groups. VIPs will enjoy some R&R on the rooftop deck of the three-bedroom penthouse suite, complete with a putting tee, indoor/outdoor hot tub and grilling space.

Runners-up: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse; Hotel Jerome
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Best Rental Service
Event Rents

Event Rents offers a vast array of rental offerings including tents, dance floors, staging, tables, chairs, tableware, essential and fine specialty linens, and a large range of kitchen equipment. “The Event Rents culture adheres to a foundation of pride, perfection and persistence with a passionate dedi- cation to service excellence by a team of rental professionals. Stemming from our philosophy, we are able to facilitate the largest of events.”

What’s New:
» In addition to Denver and Phoenix locations, Event Rents announced its newest Colorado location, Event Rents Vail/Aspen, in 2019 to serve Colorado’s mountain clients.
» “We have welcomed fresh additions to our family, forming a full team devoted to the wedding industry. Nicole Shapiro and Cody Thompson joined the outside sales team as wedding specialists, and Ryan Hoerdemann joined the internal account manager team.”

Runners-up: Butler Rents, Colorado Party Rentals
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Best Transportation Provider Or Valet Service
Jay's Valet Parking 

Services: Premier valet parking, parking lot management, luxury transportation, pedicab services and coat check

Standout Moment in 2019: “Jay’s Valet was honored to earn a part- nership with the Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Pepsi Center and Dick’s Sporting Goods Park accounts. These prestigious accounts are something we are very proud of, and we look forward to a lasting partnership for many years to come.”

Quotable: “After 35 years of serving people our motto hasn’t changed: Take care of each guest, one car at a time. We are honored to be trusted with providing service to well over a million cars a year.” – Jay Mills, CEO/Owner

Runners-up: Epic Mountain Express; Hermes Worldwide
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Best Specialty Rentals
Eclectic Hive Event Design Company 

COM+E: What sets your company apart?
EH: The Hive, as it is affectionately known, takes a dis- tinctive approach to the design process, focusing on resi- dential décor in an event environment. We share a desire, passion and focus centered on creating fresh, inspired event design while methodically creating intimate settings that encourage a personal connection.

What’s New: Hive Experiences that include unique hands-on team-building activities, gifting and outside- the-box indulgence.

Quotable: “The Hive doesn’t feel like work, it feels like a lifestyle where I’m surrounded by people who push each other to reach new levels in creativity, in balance and in skill.” – Jillian Burnham, Designer

Runners-up: Chair Covers & Linens Denver; Fun Productions

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Best Photographer/ Videographer
From The Hip Photo

What’s New:
» From the Hip Photo is moving into a three-story space in the Stapleton neighborhood that will provide three times more room for expanded in-studio photography options, comfortable client meeting space and larger post-produc- tion rooms. The business has a six-person, full-time team that works with clients in both the social and corporate event spheres.
» Over the past year, social media management for venues and businesses and videography for corporate and commercial clients have been added to From the Hip Photo’s menu of services.

Quotable: “The most deeply gratifying part of what we do every day is being part of an incredible community of sin- cere, passionate event professionals. Over the past dozen years, we’ve gotten to know so many talented people who bring creativity and kindness to their craft. It’s a constant source of inspiration and pushes us to improve what we do each and every day.” – Nina de Zayas, Founder

Runners-up: All Digital Photo & Video; Jensen Sutta Event Photography
 

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.

 

Although several cities are opening up again, many offices are still enforcing work from home policies. As they did when Stay at Home first began, plenty of organizations are still offering webinars with insights on how to tackle the new normal. Gaining new knowledge is a great way to use extra time that might have been spent on a commute. 

Here at M+E, we’ll keep the following list updated, as some webinars are live and some are pre-recorded. Please email lauren.pahmeier@tigeroak.com to add more applicable webinars to the list.