Soaking in the scenery A tourism initiative aims to put the state of Colorado on the world map for its hot springs destinations. Jane Kitchen finds out more
eep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, leaders from five hot springs destinations have come together to form the Colorado Historic Hot Springs Loop – a 720-mile (1,159km) road trip through 19 thermal facilities, national parks and monuments, scenic byways and outdoor wellness activities. The idea had its genesis in 2015, when the Colorado Tourism Office put together a package for collaborative marketing grants. Heidi Pankow, public relations manager for the Ouray Chamber Resort Association, spoke to colleagues at nearby Pagosa Springs about how they might work together to showcase the state as
Glenwood Hot Springs boasts the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool
a destination for hot springs. The two visitors bureaus then approached other nearby regions of Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Chaffee County, and an itinerary soon emerged. “Because each region and the individual hot springs facilities are so different, the Loop allows people to enjoy a variety of experiences,” says Pankow. “When we mapped it, we realised each destination is about three hours’ drive from the last stop. This makes a perfect five- to seven-day driving itinerary, or several short weekend getaway opportunities.” The Loop connects 19 thermal facilities along mostly two-lane, scenic byways through the Rocky Mountains, and also
highlights other tourist destinations along the way. “These hot springs are in the most beautiful part of Colorado,” explains public relations specialist Vicky Nash, who serves as the coordinator of the project. “That’s why collaborating with the destination areas has worked so well – we wanted to market the whole experience.” The hot springs facilities boast a wide variety of thermal features – from intimate private baths to the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool – as well as vapour caves, hot pots, terraced pools, travertine formations and aquatic centres.
Marketing power Nash manages communications, writing grant requests and reports and ordering collateral, but the partners all help both creatively and financially; a contribution of US$5,000 (€4,078, £3,601) from each of the five locations is matched by the state tourism office each year, which means the Loop has an annual marketing budget of US$50,000 (€40,780, £36,010). “As one of the smallest destinations, we look for any collaboration opportunities that we can participate in,” says Pankow, whose region is often referred to as ‘the 78 spabusiness.com issue 1 2018