The New Old West

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The New Old West

For each ‘Planner’s Pick,’ Prevue interviews a planner for their choices of compelling, high value destinations

PLANNER: ALLYSON TAYLOR
Director of Trade/Sales Communications
STARZ Entertainment
Denver, CO
Just over a 1-hour flight from Denver, the small mountain town of Telluride evokes the Old West main street appeal of a 1940s John Ford movie. The former mining town and National Historic District sits in a box canyon surrounded by the 13,000-ft high San Juan Mountain Range. In town, the 9,500-sf Telluride Conference Center is a modern facility boasting southwestern charm and Fortune 500 finesse.

Brimming with a cowboy café society that welcomes artists and adventurers alike, Telluride’s allure is a mix of heartbreaking geographic beauty, Americana lore, a tony ski scene and summertime sophistication. There’s also a heady mix of culture that includes the summer residency of Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet and the annual Telluride Film Festival every fall, along with worldly boutique galleries and bistros. We like the Telluride Choral Society, who perform in winter and spring.

“Telluride blows everywhere else in Colorado away and I’ve been everywhere else in Colorado,” proclaims Allyson Taylor, the effusive director of trade & sales communications for STARZ Entertainment. “It’s awesome because there’s a lot of money there but it’s not pretentious. It has a small mining town feel without any chain restaurants—they don’t let in any chains. The views are unmatched, the people are lovely and you can wear jeans everywhere!”

Allyson, what’s the vibe around town like?

“Telluride is more laid back and the pace is much slower than somewhere like Aspen, which is really healthy.”

Perched above town on a dramatic 92-acre bluff, the Mountain Village area is a European-inspired community approached from Telluride via a spectacular 13-minute gondola ride skirting the mountain ridge. Planners can help sell the destination’s natural appeal to their attendees by mentioning the elk herds wandering onto the 18-hole golf course.

A few minutes walk from the village, Mountain Lodge Telluride is a combination of private luxury log cabins, condominiums and lodge rooms, with ski-in/ski-out access during the winter and heated outdoor pools. With 133 keyable rooms, the retreat welcomes groups ranging in size from 12 to 120. The smallest room is 615 sf, and all of them feature kitchens, fireplaces and balconies.

Every autumn, STARZ Entertainment sponsors the Telluride Film Festival, where filmmakers and celebs make friends and influence people. Following a hectic day of stargazing, the 110 execs and affiliates retire to Mountain Lodge’s pool around their log cabins and whip up a 3-station barbeque party. There’s also a fire pit to make s’mores. “Some guys did the jeep tours, played golf and went fly fishing,” says Taylor. “We took a 4-bedroom cabin and turned it into a spa.”

Now who doesn’t like that? An escape to a cozy log cabin is an archetypal dream we all share, but is it authentic?

“Our property looks like a mountain lodge, it feels like a mountain lodge,” says Neil Hastings, director of sales/marketing. “That’s why meeting and incentive groups come here, for that sense of Western charm and remoteness even though all the hub bub in Telluride is only minutes away.”

Hastings says corporate groups such as Tyson Foods and STARZ generally hold meetings in the morning and informal sessions before dinner. “But Telluride is a place you come to for the outdoors and fresh mountain air.”

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