It was a wild, wild year. The Cubs won the World Series, the nation was in awe of a stunning election, and Colorado hospitality also delivered upsets, neck-and-neck races and thrilling first-time victories. For Colorado Meetings + Events’ Best of Colorado “Rodeo,” there are new leaders in their respective categories, gold card winners, triple crown champions and some very impressive header/heelers who captured back-to-back wins. Meet the recipients of our 11th Annual Best of Colorado Awards.
A cowboy who has a special skill in taming (or breaking) wild horses. These bronc busters are all first-time winners in their categories. They’re coming out of the gates full force.
Best Specialty Rentals is a brand new category, and Fun Productions captures the spotlight in this inaugural year. “It’s our 25th anniversary, and we certainly saw the uptick in the economy and are back to pre-2008 revenues, which is awesome, especially because we are wiser, more experienced and more organized than we were back then,” notes Dawn Abbott, owner. Even more exciting, “We will be considered a second generation company now: My son is taking over as general manager!”
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa
The Brown Palace Hotel and Spa wins Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/Event Space in Denver Metro (More than 200 Guest Rooms). “It was a very successful and busy year for The Brown Palace thanks to the newly added 3,500 square feet of meeting space. The entire second floor now serves as a meeting and event center. We added state-of-the-art technology and thoughtful features throughout the new space, which brought our total meeting space to over 20,000 square feet,” explains Mark Shine, director of sales and marketing.
Multimedia Audio Visual breaks through in this category as the Best Audio-Visual Provider, but it is no rookie. “Their longterm partnership with DISH has allowed us to maintain high quality and great value for supporting our internal meetings and production,” explains Adam Kucera, who relies on the company for numerous events throughout the year in his role as director of sales training and support for DISH.
5 Star Talent & Entertainment, Inc. wins for the first time as Best Entertainment Agency, and this year’s lineup was extra fierce. Terri L. Fisher has steered her agency as president and owner for 17 years, making this win extraordinary as a veteran business is rewarded not just for recent incredible bookings and entertainment but the legacy it has built in the community.
McNichols Civic Center Building is this year’s Best Renovation Project at Hotel or Event Venue (Completed between Oct. 1, 2015 – Sept. 15, 2016). “I love that they kept some historic elements; I appreciate the ironwork and tile that they were able to keep from the original building,” notes voter Tasha Wall, area events manager for Wynkoop Brewing Company, Breckenridge on Blake and Ale House at Amato’s.
Devil's Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa
AXS Group wins for the first time as Best Meeting/Event Planning Company since longtime companies Starkey Production and The Arrangers merged a little over three years ago. However, it’s their dual win for Best Destination Management Company as a unified force that is going to solidify the organization as bronc busters, even though The Arrangers has won the category previously.
Elway’s Cherry Creek might have had a little boost with the Denver Broncos Super Bowl championship in 2016, but the steakhouse’s reputation for delicious food, Colorado atmosphere and excellent customer service landed it a first-time win as the Best Restaurant/Bar with Private Dining Space.
A cowboy or cowgirl who works in the bucking chutes, adjusting the flank strap around the animal before the ride. This crew is critical, sets the tone for the ride and how the animal and human will intertwine. These winners are the flank people of Colorado, winning time and again and setting the stage for the industry.
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre wins the Best Attraction in Denver Metro for a fifth time in category’s history. Brian Kitts, director of marketing and communications for Red Rocks, sums it up, “Red Rocks continues to represent what’s best about Colorado and the West—spectacular views, friendly people and a laid-back atmosphere.” The iconic venue also landed its first victory in the Best Meeting/Event Venue in Denver Metro (No Hotel) category and one other category (page 41), establishing it as authentic Colorado rodeo material!
All Digital Photo & Video
It’s the seventh win for All Digital Photo & Video as the Best Photographer/Videographer. The All Digital team became leaders many rodeos ago and have proven their talents as one of the premiere agencies to capture the most important moments. “The company’s owner, Cal Cheney, is very present at many of the events. Whether he’s working the event or participating, he’s personable, approachable and always professional,” comments Terri M. Utecht, CMP, owner of Utecht Diversified Event Resource, Inc.
DesignWorks is a true flankman, capturing its seventh win in the category of Best Event Décor/Floral. The company’s masterpieces and creativity are evident around the state at all sorts of events—nonprofit, corporate, community, private—and the team’s talents are obviously appreciated as they also have won this category more than any other company.
Epicurean Group indeed sets the table for successful meetings and events in the category of Best Caterer in Denver Metro for the eighth time. An established icon and contender for Gold Card status, this organization combines cuisine, presentation, customer service, quality and authentic Colorado style. Epicurean Group is a standout rodeo flankman, proving its impact on the industry.
Spruce Mountain Ranch is truly part of the rodeo team. They’ve been around for some time and have won this category in 2012 and 2013, and 2016 proved to be another breakout year for Best Meeting/Event Venue outside Denver Metro (No Hotel). Located in Larskpur, only 45 minutes from Denver International Airport, this 450-acre, majestically landscaped ranch is the toast of corporate retreats and events this year.
These two-partner roping teams always provide a thrill and whirlwind event at rodeos. It’s the partnership amongst the team that creates the success, and in this case the teams represent our back-to-back winners.
Biscuits & Berries secures a back-to-back win for Best Caterer outside Denver Metro for good reason. General Manager Deryk Schnepf explains, “This was a year of incredible growth for us, both as a company and as a team.”
Rocky Mountain National Park wins the Best Attraction outside Denver Metro for its header/heeler combo victory. And, the National Parks system in general saw a tremendous overall boost from their centennial anniversary in 2016. However, the vast amount of adventure, lodging and meeting space within such close, stunning proximity to Estes Park solidified its win.
The Broadmoor Fishing Camp
The Broadmoor wins its second title as Best Historic Venue. “We don’t sit still, says Allison Scott, director of communications. “We continue to add things that make us ‘The Most Unique Resort in the World.’ Besides our Broadmoor Wilderness properties, we acquired the attraction of Seven Falls, as well as the newly restored Estate House across from Broadmoor Cottages. We will enter into our next 100 years with a solid position of being Destination Broadmoor with venues, activities, attractions and events for everyone, all located at the gateway to the Colorado Rocky Mountains.” The resort is a true header/heeler combo this year as it also won in the Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/Event Space Outside Denver Metro (More than 200 Guest Rooms).
Red Rocks Amphitheatre takes the title again in Best Outdoor Meeting/Event Venue,making it the first time any entity has won three Best of Colorado categories in one year. “The natural beauty of Red Rocks as an event space is really unmatched anywhere in the U.S.,” notes Kitts.
Breckenridge Tourism Office solidifies its third win in the category of Best Destination Marketing Organization (Town/Area Less than 25,000 in Population). Year-round events, a cohesive team and experience make the DMO a rodeo star again.
TRIPLE CROWN WINNER
A cowboy or cowgirl who wins three world championships in the same year. Our version is an organization that has won three consecutive years.
JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek had stiff competition this year with the opening of a brand new hotel with meeting space just blocks away. However, something has made this a standout in Denver for three years as Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/Event Space in Denver Metro (200 or Less Guest Rooms). Jenni Gaherty, director of sales and marketing at the JW Marriott Denver, notes, “JW Marriott Denver Cherry Creek is dedicated to maintaining its position as one of Denver’s top hotels by constantly elevating the guest experience, from opening a new outdoor space THE Deck last year to planning a major remodel of our 196 luxurious guest rooms later this year.”
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort & Spa also has dominated as Best Hotel or Resort with Meeting/Event Space Outside Denver Metro (200 or Less Guest Rooms) for three consecutive years. “Last year brought a great mix of new and repeat groups across all corporate market segments, including more interest from the East and West Coasts,” says Thad Carlson, senior director of sales. “Our setting and variety of recreation options are clearly a draw for groups, along with the versatility of our indoor and outdoor venues that lend themselves to a variety of events including but not limited to business meetings, teambuilding events and retreats.”
Colorado Mountain Express
Colorado Mountain Express ropes in a third consecutive win as Best Transportation. “CME hosted a number of groups this year and our team’s dedication and commitment to consistently deliver seamless transfers and exceptional guest service helped drive our success. We are grateful to our partners across the Colorado meetings industry for their trust and support,” notes John Dawsey, vice president and general manager.
GOLD CARD MEMBER/LIFE MEMBER
A 10-year, Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association dues-paying member who has reached his/her 50th birthday or a 20-year, dues-paying member of any age. In our case, these two organizations have made it past the 10th year as winners and are Colorado Meetings + Events’ Gold Card Members.
VISIT DENVER, The Convention and Visitors Bureau wins Best Destination Marketing Organization (Town/Area 25,000+ in Population). Rich Grant, who worked for VISIT DENVER for 35 years and retired in 2015, says he wasn’t surprised to see the convention and visitors bureau win once again. “VISIT DENVER has one of the strongest and best boards in the state that is very supportive of the organization and its mission,” he says. Grant notes that when he worked as communications director, it was always a little embarrassing to go around saying VISIT DENVER was the nation’s best CVB but now that he’s retired, it’s much easier. “Studies of meeting planners consistently rank VISIT DENVER as one of the top five convention bureaus in the U.S. for service, marketing and staff, and frequently they are ranked number one,” he says.
Event Rents is the second Gold Card Member of 2017. With 11 consecutive wins, it’s the leader in Best Rental Service. Its white, logoed trucks are a staple outside events across the state. From chargers and china to chairs and cascading farm tables with seating for the masses, Event Rents has the inventory, staff, experience and creativity to place them in rodeo history. No other company has ever been able to out-rope them in the Best Rental Service category. Who says, “Don’t put a bull in a china shop?” This organization proves the more wild the request, the more outrageous and gorgeous the results.
Congratulations to all the winners for making Colorado’s meetings and events industry one heck of a rodeo!