K i d s
INCORPOR A T ED Colorado offers an abundance of locations and activities that will guarantee successful meetings, happy tots, tweens and teens can go hand in hand.
By Shelly Steig & Julie Scheff
l Colorado Meetings + Events »
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For many employees, corporate retreats and conventions are wonderful
opportunities to bond
“We saw a lot of families included in events before the economic crash, and that’s starting to come back slowly but surely,” says Brian Whitt, senior sales manager for Destination Services Corporation, a destination management company with offices in Colorado and beyond. “There are a lot of benefits to including families in programs. People are much more incentivized to attend, and it’s a morale booster. People are away from their families often enough, it’s nice not to have to leave them behind and be able to have some quality family time while enjoying Colorado’s playground.” Whitt is currently designing a recreation-heavy program for a large corporation traveling to Colorado. It will include going behind the scenes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, feeding the animals, taking the cog railway up Pikes Peak and riding bikes down. Other planned activities include horseback riding, rappelling, zip lining and whitewater rafting. “This is a quality-of-life issue,” says Nikki Bray, president and director of meetings and events for MDN Productions in Denver. “Parents or spouses don’t want to be taken away from their personal obligations.” MDN has been seeing an upswing in requests to keep families engaged and entertained while moms, dads, wives or husbands are in meetings. With that in mind, it has been finding locations that offer options for family members—including tail-end activities or overflow into weekends. Bray says, “It’s an incentive. Participants can turn it into a vacation or extended stay.” When the crew comes along, there are considerations. Jeanna Finch, director of business development for Denver-based Convention Designs, emphasizes that it’s crucial to know the ages of children attending, understand state requirements for child care and have a grasp of liability and insurance issues. Splitting the kids into age groups is also key. “Younger kids love the History Colorado Center. [Denver’s] Children’s Museum is also wonderful, and it really caters to the little kids. Older kids can be more adventurous and might like an outdoor ropes course or panning for gold at the Phoenix Mine,” she says. One of Convention Designs’ clients has requested an interactive map for a wall in the host hotel so kids can pin their home location. Finch also suggests hiring entertainers, such as magicians or jugglers, to teach kids tricks in a workshop. If the adults are occupied and the kiddos need watching, organizations like The Amelia Agency provide safe and supervised activities. The focus for tots is on outdoor activities and interactive crafts, strategically interspaced with nap times and meals. Owner Rachel Romkey says, “Older children love to explore what Colorado has to offer, and our favorite places are amusement parks and water activities. We always scout out parks and nearby places that are child-friendly for us to utilize.” The agency has developed relationships with local yoga studios that offer classes for toddlers and children. It also includes a craft for all age groups, usually geared toward the season.
connect with peers and learn more about their fields. However, packing for those getaways sometimes includes bringing along extra baggage—guilt. After all, it is tough to take time away from the family. Now, with the economy bouncing back, employees are once again requesting that no child, or spouse, be left behind.
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P H O T O S C O U R T E S Y O F : T H E B R O A D M O O R ( P R E V I O U S PA G E ) ; J A C K A F F L E C K ( T H I S PA G E ) .
SUNLIGHT MOUNTAIN RESORT
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PERFECT ADD-ONS OR DAY TRIPS
Trains, mountains and water are a winning combination to entertain groups and families. Here’s a nice mix of ideas from around the state. Historic Train Loops » Offering mesmerizing views of the Colorado River and Rio Grande to glimpses of mining eras from yesteryear, Colorado trains are easily booked in advance and can accommodate large groups. colorado.com/activities/trains Rock Climb & Cool Off » Do you have adrenaline junkies in the mix? Will your event cater to active lifestyles? A little more than an hour from Denver International Airport is one of the most famous rock climbing meccas west of the Mississippi: Eldorado Canyon State Park. The cliff walls are scalable and impressive and there is even meeting space at park headquarters. Add an extra bonus and take your group across the street to Eldorado Springs Resort & Pool. parks. state.co.us/parks/eldoradocanyon, eldoradosprings.com YMCA of the Rockies » Both YMCA of The Rockies locations in Estes Park and Granby offer cabins or hotel-style lodges, and dining packages can be included as well. With more than 100 activities throughout the season, no family or group will want to leave. ymcarockies.org Water Sports & More » Want an exciting, but not terrifying, whitewater rafting experience? Then, head out with Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting Company in Buena Vista. The company’s experienced and affable guides have navigated the Brown’s Canyon stretch of the Arkansas River for 31 years. Plus, Noah’s Ark introduced the new Browns Canyon Aerial Adventure Park this summer. noahsark.com
NOAH’S ARK WHITEWATER RAFTING COMPANY
» Confluence Kayaks offers group or private stand-up paddling or kayak lessons for 8-year-olds and older at Chatfield State Park, southwest of Denver. confluencekayaks.com
Family-Friendly Destinations P H OTO CO U R T E SY O F : N OA H ’ S A R K .
Colorado Springs Colorado Springs is only about an hour from Denver, but with its own airport and metropolis, the city over delivers in terms of activities and under delivers in terms of crowds. If planners are looking for resorts, there is none more historic or grand than The Broadmoor. Thousands of children visit the resort and nearby Cheyenne Mountain Resort each year as part of business ventures. On-site sitter services, kids programming, bowling, swimming,
golf, tennis and many other activities are available between these two properties. “We usually accompany my husband on his work travel as his portion of the car industry meets three times a year,” explains Jillian Schwartz, seasoned family tagalong, with her 5-year-old daughter in tow. “I went on The Broadmoor’s website and couldn’t believe all the stuff on-site at the resort. I called the concierge, and before we knew it, we were all there from Tuesday through
Sunday,” explains Schwartz. “My husband [Eric] works so hard, and he truly got to relax after his meetings with our daughter. This was a memorable one. When we stepped in the house, Eric said, ‘When are we going back?’” Colorado Springs Food Tours are excellent for hungry teenagers and groups of up to 12 people. A locals’ favorite is Poor Richard’s, a wine bar, toy store, pizzeria, book store and more. Pioneers Museum is a great hour tour,
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GLENWOOD HOT SPRINGS ALPINE SLIDE AT GLENWOOD CAVERNS ADVENTURE PARK
free and centrally located downtown. The Air Force Academy tour is impressive for any age, and don’t forget Squeak, where you make your own flavored soda.
Glenwood Springs You know a community has confidence if it can pull off a multigenerational bash when it throws a citywide party to celebrate a 125th anniversary. Glenwood Hot Springs, along with the city of Glenwood Springs, did it with zest—hosting more than 1,000 people including tots and teens. “As a family resort, we always try and keep children in mind with anything we do, whether it’s our amenities, marketing or events,” says Jeremy Gilley, director of sales and revenue for Glenwood Hot Springs. “We thought about activities that would be fun for parents and children, such as the swimsuit show and beach ball drop. We put together a free goodie bag that included pool toys, so the kids felt like they were getting something fun too. The timeline of the events was important as well when considering kids, which is why we scheduled the fashion show and beach ball drop earlier in the day.”
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The city is particularly suited for families, with many additional options such as Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and all sorts of outdoor adventures, zip lines, a rock climbing wall and ropes course at Glenwood Canyon Resort. Gilley adds, “Sunlight Mountain offers great lift-ticket pricing for family passes and has an amazing ski school program. There is one lodge and all the runs come down to this central location, which is so convenient for families.”
Grand Junction Grand Junction is the largest city on the Western Slope and draws numerous big events and meetings held at the 23,000-square-foot Two Rivers Convention Center. Colorado associations and service groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions have all hosted conferences in this charming town, and the families have come along as well. “One of the most popular family attractions for days when parents are in meetings is Bananas Fun Park,” notes Erin Chapman, sales assistant for the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau. “It has it all—mini
golf, arcade, bumper boats, laser tag—and for the tiny ones, the Pavilion, an all-indoor and air-conditioned space with a bump-n-jump playground and more.” “Grand Junction just hosted the 2013 Colorado State Special Olympics due to the fact that the facilities needed for the various events were in close proximity. Between Colorado Mesa University [swimming at the new natatorium, power lifting, gymnastics events] and the City of Grand Junction’s Lincoln Park/Stocker Stadium [track and field events], the spot was optimal,” explains Chapman. The Special Olympics also brought families galore. More than 500 guests attended a vendor-sponsored, family-friendly event at CMU where there were art stations for the kids to create muslin headbands, local rodeo clowns to entertain folks, a create-your-own instrument booth and much more with food, music and live entertainment. Other popular family-friendly attractions throughout the area include agriculture tours, alpaca farm visits, biking and exploring the legendary Colorado National Monument. It’s especially fun to visit during the harvest season.
P H O T O S C O U R T E S Y O F : G L E N W O O D H O T S P R I N G S ; G L E N W O O D C AV E R N S A D V E N T U R E PA R K ; G R A N D J U N C T I O N V I S I TO R & CO N V E N T I O N B U R E AU ; JAC K A F F L E C K .
COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT
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Vail Valley Summer and winter favorites such as skiing, whitewater rafting, gondola rides, ice skating, sledding, hiking, rock climbing, scavenger hunts and guided nature walks are all accessible from Vail Valley. And if that’s not enough, ziplining and Segway tours also are options. Resorts such as Vail Cascade Resort and Park Hyatt and Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, both in Beaver Creek, have the bells and whistles for little ones, such as kids clubs and activities, pools, mountain access on-site and multiple bedroom suites for larger families. “We had one particular group that wanted to be able to come together as families and have specific activities appropriate for both adults and children,” explains Alicia Arseneau, DSC vice president of sales, “and the Vail Valley is the perfect place for just this type of group.” She says, “Buckaroo Bonanza Bunch have been the official storytellers of Beaver Creek for over 25 years and welcomed the kids at the start of the program, getting them jazzed for their adventures in Beaver Creek. To top it off, [the kids] were all sworn into the Ski & Snowboard
Safety Posses, encouraging them to have a safe and exciting adventure on the slopes.” For one of the off-site evenings, DSC arranged for all the kids to have a Little Chefs hands-on cooking demonstration, while the adults sat down to a gourmet dinner. Interactive food stations were setup in the kitchen of the restaurant, so kids were able to create their own pizzas while learning about the food they were using. A gold panning station, kids’ fun zone with craft stations and tubing races also were part of the action. DSC also organized a Kids Night Out Goes Survivor. The kids entered a ballroom where mountain décor set the stage for members of the Vail Mountain Rescue Team and Beaver Creek Ski Patrol to conduct fun, educational workshops on Colorado wilderness survival. “This was a real hands-on, experiential exercise where kids learned what they can encounter in the Colorado wilderness, what survival gear and techniques they can use to survive and how to help others who find themselves in trouble in the backcountry,” explains Arseneau. With all the support and beauty Colorado
has to offer, and a whole host of family-friendly destinations, groups can’t go wrong when kids are incorporated into meetings and events.
Get Connected THE AMELIA AGENCY 303.261.7403 / theameliaagency.com CONVENTION DESIGNS 866.650.8858 / conventiondesigns.com DSC 970.476.6565 / dsc-co.com GLENWOOD SPRINGS CHAMBER RESORT ASSOCIATION 970.945.6589 / visitglenwood.com GRAND JUNCTION VISITOR & CONVENTION BUREAU 970.244.1480 / visitgrandjunction.com MDN PRODUCTIONS 720.259.6161 / mdnproductions.com VAIL VALLEY PARTNERSHIP 970.476.1000 / visitvailvalley.com
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