A (Meeting) Room with a View

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“Visitors are impressed that Breckenridge is so unique and diverse in the town itself,” Sudduth says. “It’s a vibrant community with great culture and historic charm. So they enjoy all it offers in general. But the fact that the mountain and town are so well connected is what gives us an edge.”

Viceroy Snowma

VAIL UNPLUGGED Meeting planner Christine Rochester’s title is “Touchpoint” at her San Francisco firm Prophet, a strategic brand/marketing company servicing Fortune 500 companies. When she FAM-tripped through Vail, she targeted properties with wow potential for off-the-wall outdoor experiences.

Her 150 global attendees didn’t know each other so she wanted a highly interactive destination where people would immediately have lots of shared experiences to help initiate fun and easy networking.

Prophet’s criteria plugged perfectly into the green scheme at Destination Hotels & Resorts’ 4-diamond Vail Cascade. On the heels of a $30 million renovation in December 2008, the refreshed property features 292 guestrooms, 27 suites and 80-plus condos and private homes.

“I chose it because it was the most comfortable and unpretentious with the most space, and it was right on a creek that runs between the property and the bike path,” explains Rochester. “I loved the meeting space and wanted everything outside. Why come to Vail and not be outdoors?”

Rochester showcased the area around Gore Creek right off the bat with her al fresco welcoming dinner. “We created field dining next to the creek with local wines and food served family-style on three long tables,” she says. Each table was dressed in white linens covered with craft paper and decorated with galvanized buckets of field flowers. “When attendees came down the path, they were in awe.”

Cascade’s director of conference services, Deana Mitchell, CMP, says 98% of the fare served was sourced within 100 miles. “We presented platters of farm-raised striped bass, grilled buffalo ribeye, wild mushroom ragout, and organic crudités of ‘edible dirt’ made from mushrooms and olives topped with vegetables,” she says. “We’ll do this event again.”

Planners can also dial into 45,000 sf of function space, including the 19,000-sf Gore Range Hall exhibit area. The property is also home to the 78,000-sf Aria Spa & Club—Vail Valley’s largest fitness and wellness center.

Off-property, Rochester took full advantage of Vail’s vast recreation by letting attendees select half-day activities from a menu of whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, ziplining, fly fishing, tennis and a cattle drive.

ASPEN/SNOWMASS “The beauty of bringing groups to Snowmass/Aspen is that they’re getting two very different green destinations in one,” says Jane Floyd, founder of the Aspen-based DMC, Jane Floyd & Associates. Over the past four years, the two destinations have invested $75 million in capital improvements to the four major mountains—Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.

While laid-back Snowmass reflects its ranching roots, former miner-magnet Aspen grabs attention as the trendier sister. Testament to their high degree of cooperation and eco-focus, they transport visitors via complimentary shuttle service from mountain to mountain and town to town.