The view atop Vail Mountain never gets old. I could spend the afternoon just taking in the surrounding vistas, but there are too many other options at 11,000 feet.
Now a year-round destination, Epic Discovery is Vail Mountain’s playground, with ziplining, summer tubing, a mountain coaster and miles of trails for hiking and biking. This wasn’t my summer vacation, but rather part of a Marriott Convention & Resort Network (CRN) press trip in Colorado.
Over the three days, we saw meeting space, amenities and group offerings at the collection’s properties in the state—including the soon-to-open Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center.
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In Vail, our group took advantage of Epic Discovery’s Adventure Pass, which allows for unlimited all-day access to the mountaintop activities. We started with a ride in the Eagle Bahn gondola, set at the base of the mountain in Vail’s Lionshead Village.
After a ride on the mountain coaster and a few hours of exploring, we rode back down and checked out the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort, which is within walking distance of Eagle Bahn.
The resort is currently undergoing a renovation, with the 8,400-square-foot Grand Ballroom complete, while the rest of the property, including additional meeting space and nearly 350 guest rooms, will be transformed by the end of the year.
The resort’s 28,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor function space and it’s close proximity to the mountain makes it a space where groups can both work and play.
Our time in Vail ended with an evening on the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort’s outdoor terrace, which is equipped with a semi-permanent tent (set up from spring through fall), fire pits and lots of seating. A bar and food stations were brought out for our reception, showing how the resort’s team can transform the space and take advantage of the comfortable weather and the Vail Mountain backdrop.
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My Colorado trip started a few days earlier with a jam-packed schedule in the Denver Metro area. The first stop was the Denver Marriott Tech Center, a 605-room hotel in this business hub southeast of downtown Denver.
The Tech Center was developed in the 1970s and today companies such as Oracle and Boeing, as well as a slew of start-ups, have offices here. The hotel, easily accessible from DIA and downtown by the light rail, completed renovations last year, giving the lobby and guest rooms a glitzy, modern look.
After an afternoon exploring downtown Denver’s neighborhoods on a tuk-tuk (three-wheeled vehicle) and dinner at Urban Farmer Denver, we headed back to the hotel. There, executive chef Jeff Bolton, who oversees functions in the property’s nearly 50,000 square feet of meeting space, treated us to his take on the Rocky Mountains—an over-the-top chocolate dessert masterpiece depicting the surrounding giants, complete with pine trees made of sugar and mushrooms made of meringue.
Another Marriott CRN property, the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, hosted us for an indulgent breakfast, property tour and history lesson by local historian Rich Grant.
We learned that the property is a city landmark and how the two towers’ history will be incorporated into the upcoming hotel renovation. To start the day, executive chef Scott Skomal showed off the hotel’s Test Kitchen, a food and beverage concept available to groups. In the back of the house, tables were surrounded by stations manned by chefs waiting to create our “on-the-spot” breakfast orders.
At each place setting a form gave us a list of ingredients and categories, including “Fillers” and “Additions.” With our selections in hand, the chefs whipped up creative dishes.
With its 133,000 square feet of meeting space and just over 1,200 guest rooms, the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel can accommodate groups of up to 3,000 people but also boasts smaller spaces for more intimate events, such as the hidden speakeasy.
Nearby, Denver Union Station was the city’s main railway station that was renovated and redesigned as a mixed-use space that now includes a hotel, retail shops and multiple bars and restaurants.
There, we enjoyed lunch at Mercantile Dining & Provision, where Chef Alex Seidel, a champion for making Colorado’s bounty accessible to all, gave us a demonstration on how to make gnocchi and served it alongside local ingredients, including cheese from his own creamery.
As part of Marriott CRN, a collection of 100 properties throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, these properties are automatic choices for groups, and each wows with uniquely Colorado touches, making meetings in the mountains a highly elevated experience.
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