Prevue March-April 2018 - 111
The ART, a hotel
An artful and rejuvenating experience across two resorts
[ON LOCATION] VICKI ARKOFF
Meet me at the Blue Bear," is the most repeated
phrase at any large-scale conference in Denver. It's
not local slang or secret code, or even the name of
one of Denver's many craft breweries. It's a giant
public art sculpture of a 40-ft indigo grizzly, cheekily
peeking into the upper windows of the Colorado Convention
Center (CCC), a stylish glass structure within walking distance to
10,000 hotel rooms that is also planning a $233 million expansion.
AN ARTFUL EXPERIENCE
The heart of Denver's cultural scene is the Golden Triangle
Museum District, home to the Denver Art Museum, Colorado
History Center, Denver Performing Arts Center, and The ART, a
hotel, an architectural stunner we were lucky to have as our host,
with 165 rooms and a world-class contemporary art collection
of originals by Ed Ruscha, Claes Oldenburg, Sam Francis, Frank
Gehry and more. The hotel creates masterful meetings in 5,000
sf of event space, with gallery receptions, private art tours, team
building "scavenger hunts" to view the area's public sculptures,
"Connect with ART" corporate design challenges, and breakout
sessions taught by local Denver artists. We discovered our inner
graffiti artists while painting wild canvasses on the rooftop terrace,
coached by Denver's spray can Picasso, Patrick McGirr, and
inspired by the hotel's craft cocktail mixology cart.
PAMPERED BY THE WILD
An hour's drive into the Rockies introduced us to the sprawling
Keystone Resort, its two charming mountain villages,
numerous lodging options, and the largest conference center
in the Rocky Mountains. We discovered that although winter
thrills-snowshoeing to corporate broomball on ice-kept us
occupied, Keystone is a four-season outdoorsman's paradise.
The conference center brings the outdoors in with mountain
views, terrace spaces accessible from ground floor ballrooms,
and spacious event fields for everything from Volvo race tracks
and helicopter landings to private concerts. We rode the gondola
to the mountain peak for a fresh-air yoga class with breathtaking
views, recuperated with a massage at the Keystone Lodge &
Spa, and then joined a Western wagon ride to a picturesque old
homestead for a charming cowboy cookout. Groups can also
participate in snowboarding and skiing team building lessons,
both of which can be customized for attendees based on their
experience levels. Female attendees may appreciate the annual
"Betty Fest," a skiing retreat for women.
"If you come to Keystone and didn't intend to incorporate
outdoor space and activities, you've come to the wrong place,"
says Thomas Kelsey, Keystone's director of resort sales.
A behind-the-scenes banquet kitchen tour revealed how
the staff's International Culinary School chefs maintain a recordsetting food service to 700 attendees in only 15 minutes. But
the sweetest surprise was a peek inside Keystone's chocolate
kitchen, where chef Ned Archibald's pastry team custom-builds
incredible edibles, from truffle-filled gondolas for a winter sports
summit, to a full-sized chocolate sofa for a Zumiez conference
photo-op. "We made it as a decorative prop," Archibald says, "but
the attendees ate the whole thing!"
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