The New Westin & Wildwood Snowmass Target Upscale/Casual Groups

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The Westin Snowmass

The Westin Snowmass

Situated high up in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Snowmass and Aspen offer a slew of thrill-inducing summer and winter group activities. Adding to the draw for planners, the two new Westin Hotels offer casual and upscale meetings.

You haven’t experienced Snowmass Mountain until racing down a mountain biking trail at 30 mph—or in my case—about 5 mph. The staff at Four-Mountain Sports, located at the foot of Elk Camp Gondola, provides riders with helmets, head-to-toe pads and lessons with instructors who first take riders on a mountainbiker bunny slope. After that, they match attendees with a trail suited to their level.

The views from every stop along the mountain trails are worth the experience alone, but the bonding experience is also valuable. After completing the course, everyone shares their feelings after coming down from an exhilarating, Rocky Mountain high.

THE WESTIN & WILDWOOD

Rebranded following a $55 million renovation in November 2012, The Westin Snowmass Resort and sister Wildwood Snowmass offer 400 guest rooms with ski-in/ski-out access to Elk Camp Gondola.

The Westin property is true to the Westin brand and the mountain destination where it resides. Brown, beige and grey earth tones complement the wood headboards in the 254 guest rooms. The rich wood finishes in the lobby’s beautiful Vue lounge convey a contemporary mountain ambience and totally cozy vibe.

The Wildwood Snowmass has a more colorful approach perhaps best suited for more youthful attendees. There are plenty of neon colors, board games in the lobby, and a quirky knitted deer head displayed above the fireplace.

Between the properties, the 18,000-sf Snowmass Conference Center is one of the largest ballrooms in the Colorado Rockies. At the individual properties, The Westin has 5,000-sf and the Wildwood has 1,100-sf, including The Hideaway boardroom hidden behind a faux bookshelf.

“The benefit of bringing a group event to the Westin Snowmass/Wildwood Snowmass complex is that we have a variety of unique venues available to provide a different experience for each event,” says Tim Johnson, complex director of sales/marketing. “In the summer, we have the ability to offer indoor and outdoor experiences so the attendees can enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery during meals and receptions and still have a professional conference in the Westin Snowmass Conference Center.”

In August, a new high-speed WiFi infrastructure was added throughout the entire facility, dramatically increasing bandwidth in guest rooms, public spaces and meeting rooms. Five restaurants are available between the two properties. For fancy food, Westin’s 237-seat Snowmass Kitchen is run by Chef de Cuisine Jamie Flatt, who says he spends hours perusing farmers markets. Menu highlights include the Little Cowboy chimichurri chicken with a buttery Southwestern corn sauce. The wild mushroom bolognese is so hearty and rich that it’s almost unbelievable as a vegetarian option.

The Vue features a more scaled-down menu by the chefs from the Snowmass Kitchen. The Chi-Town pigs, Snowmass blanket and honey glazed “SFC” bites demonstrate comfort food at its finest.

For beer drinkers, the Ranger Station has an ever-changing menu of New Belgium craft brews on tap. The slope-side bar and eatery also has outdoor space with live bands open for events in the summertime. Make sure to say “Hi” to kilt-wearing bartender Brad who’s known for being one of the best (or maybe quirkiest) in the area. The Bar at Wildwood also has craft beers on tap, wings, burgers and hot dogs available in a lounge-seating format.

At the top of Snowmass Mountain, Elk Camp Lodge offers a picture-perfect setting for events with space for 250 guests in the great room and outdoor patio space.

OFFSITE EXCURSIONS

The Roaring Fork Transit Authority offers free buses until 2 a.m. for groups that want to take the 15-minute ride over to Aspen—and they definitely should. Unlike many Colorado mountain resorts, Aspen was a town first before attracting the masses with its skier-friendly offerings, and it is very obvious with the traditional brick and wood buildings exuding an Old West feel.

What started as a silver mining town in the 1870s has turned into a cultural mecca for artists and intellectuals, both high-brow and low. Modern-day founders Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke created what is dubbed “The Aspen Idea” in the late 1940s by promoting a community that embodies the development of the mind, body and spirit.

During warm weather months, guides with the Aspen Center for Environmentalist Studies offer a daily 2-hour walk through the area’s wildflowers, lush meadows and Aspen forests. You’ll even learn about the nearby “Snowmastodon” site where fossils were excavated in 2010.

The area’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival in June and September, and the Food & Wine Classic in June attract some of the world’s best musicians, artists and chefs. Jazz fest headliners this year included Ben Harper, Keith Urban, Journey and Train. The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C., has an Aspen campus that hosts conferences involved in international affairs within the 22,000 sf of meeting space split between the institute and the Doerr-Hosier Center.
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Aspen’s history is creatively mapped out in the newly renovated boutique Hotel Jerome lobby, designed with artifacts from each era since the property opened in 1889. The hotel’s legendary J-Bar specializes in traditional cocktails, including its very own Aspen Crud—a vanilla milkshake with a shot of bourbon, created during Prohibition.

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