Denver: Go West!

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As another winter season approaches Mark Browne of Together considers the attractions of taking a transatlantic trip to Denver, capital of the US State of Colorado which is home to some of the largest and best ski resorts in North America.

Known as the “Mile High City”, Denver does in fact have an official elevation of one mile (5,280 ft) above sea level. This means that visitors to the city can begin to acclimatise to the pure thin air of the Rocky Mountains right from arrival. However this is not a city in the clouds; on the contrary Denver enjoys an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year, making it a perfect environment to avoid the winter blues!

A city with a resident population of just under a million inhabitants, it has seen extensive growth and regeneration in recent years as more and more people are drawn by its reputation as a hip city offering a lifestyle that other US cities struggle to compete with. The growth of the city as a cultural, sporting and culinary capital marks a transformation from its historical role as a transport hub for the mining industries located throughout the state. Its manageable size, 200 municipal parks and growing cultural scene including art galleries, museums and restaurant scene, as well as its proximity to some stunning natural parks have all proved to be a magnet for new residents and visitors alike.

Brewing is quite a focus locally and the Denver Beer Trail offers a convenient way to experience some of the best examples of local craft beers – many of which offer a good challenge to Belgian beers!

Although constructed almost entirely over the last 150 years, the city does possess some impressive and imposing historic structures like the State Capital Building and the Union Station building as well as more recent editions such as the Denver Art Museum designed by Daniel Libeskind.

On the sporting side the city hosts both the champion Ice hockey team the Colorado Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets basketball team at its impressive Ball Arena. This enclosed and hi-tech stadium ensures an electric atmosphere at home games which even tourists unfamiliar with the sports can thoroughly enjoy!

Ski Portal

A key attraction for visitors is the city’s role as a gateway to the many winter sports resorts that Colorado offers. These include household names like Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Vail as well as many smaller local resorts. Some of these, like Loveland (www.skiloveland.com), are only a short hop from the metropolitan area. This means that Denver can serve as a stop off point to visit en route to or from the mountains or even act as the base from which daily excursions can be made to local resorts for those who wish to enjoy the exhilaration of the slopes – ensuring that the trip offers something for all members of the family.  

Where to Stay

Known as the Grand Dame of Denver hotels, the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa is the ultimate iconic choice for luxury lodging in Denver. Originally built in 1892 for what at the time was the princely sum of over $2 million, this imposing hotel is faced with local Colorado granite and red sandstone. Such quality construction, as well as unique features such as its eight-storey triangular atrium topped by an Italian renaissance style stained glass ceiling and the golden onyx lobby decor, have earned it a listing in the US National Historic Register of landmark architectural edifices. 

Spread over two stories and over 5,000 feet, the hotel’s spa offers the full range of treatments to be expected from a five star venue as well as some custom therapies specifically designed for Colorado’s climate, including special soaks in water drawn from the hotel’s own artesian well. Just the spot to recharge after a long flight or before returning following a ski trip.

It will come as no surprise that the hotel has hosted a broad selection of celebrities over its illustrious history ranging from US presidents and world leaders to stars of the music and film worlds. Tours are available (on a complimentary basis for guests) to give an insight into its history and some of the landmark events which shaped it.

Situated in the heart of the downtown area, the hotel is perfectly located for visitors wishing to explore the many aspects of this city. However, the hotel is very much a destination in its own right, with a broad range of dining and entertainment options. Foremost among these is dinner in the Palace Arms restaurant, winner of numerous awards. It’s main dining room is adorned with a range of original Napoleonic memorabilia, including his duelling pistols!

Mark Browne was a guest of the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa