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.

“I love seeing all of these events transform,” she says. “My role is to network, bring in new groups and destination management companies (DMCs), develop and bring in unique clients and manage the whole event scheme.”

Wings Over the Rockies is housed in an old airplane hangar built in 1938, located on what used to be Lowry Air Force Base in east Denver. With 55 different aircraft on-site and roughly 40,000 square feet of event space, the sky is truly the limit in terms of making a clients’ vision come to life. “Wings is unique as one of the largest venues in Denver and definitely the coolest,” Makonese says.

Clients vary from military and corporate to most notably the American Idol Denver auditions with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. However, Wings Over the Rockies is more than just a venue, it is a nonprofit that relies on education, youth, community outreach and volunteers, too.

“I’m meeting all kinds of people from around the world. I like coming to work, and not many people can say that,” she notes. Before Wings Over the Rockies, Makonese held a similar position at The Wildlife Experience, an art gallery and natural history museum that hosted galas and other various functions, and coordinated weddings and corporate events for Denver Botanic Gardens. She says, “I went from flowers to animals to aerospace.”

So far, webcams and Zoom meetings have been an essential part of 2020. While digital options are functional placeholders for meetings, chatting with a coworker over Skype doesn’t always set up a team for success. Human connection is vital to team building, and hosting safe, small meetings is a great way to revitalize teams after months of working from home.

 

Kimpton Hotel Born sits next to the train tracks of Denver's Union Station, the city’s transportation hub. In tandem with the hustle and bustle of city life, Hotel Born projects a Rocky Mountain feel with alpine-modern spaces that exude warmth and rusticity, which is exactly what groups and visitors want when they come to Denver.

 

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