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Westin Denver International Airport officially open

November 23, 2015

More than 20 years after visionary planners conceived of a modern globally connected airport with an on-site hotel and rail service to downtown Denver, Thursday’s opening of the Westin Denver International Airport completed that decades-old vision.

Denver International Airport joined with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Westin Hotels and Resorts in celebrating the opening of the Westin Denver International Airport hotel and conference center and its adjoining open-air plaza, which sit upon the airport’s new transit center that is set to open in April 2016. Together, these projects make up the DEN Hotel and Transit Center.

The glass and steel structure comprises more than 433,000 square feet. The modern hotel and conference center offers 519 guest rooms, 35 spacious suites and a 37,500-square-foot conference center. The conference center includes two ballrooms and 15 additional meeting rooms and boardrooms of varying sizes. The largest ballroom encompasses 7,500 square feet, accommodating up to 750 people. The meeting space’s most dramatic feature is a 10,000-square-foot prefunction area showcasing a panoramic, three-story, floor-to-ceiling glass wall that is approximately 100 feet wide.

Guests of the Westin Denver International Airport will enjoy ongoing programs, events, entertainment and relaxation at this new airport destination. Beyond that, guests will be connected to Denver’s downtown via RTD’s new University of Colorado A Line – scheduled to begin service on April 22 – that will take passengers from DIA to Denver Union Station in about 37 minutes.

“Today, we open an entirely new chapter in our international airport’s history,” Hancock said. “With this stunning new hotel, conference center and open-air plaza, we are elevating Denver and the Rocky Mountain region to new heights. The hotel and commuter line set to open in April are the first steps toward leveraging DIA as an
economic powerhouse that will create tens of thousands of new jobs and bring more business opportunity to Metro Denver.”

The mayor continued, “Thank you to the strong leaders, visionaries and a tremendous community for making today possible. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and prouder still of the future we have forged together.”

Designed by global architect, Gensler, and built by MHS, a tri-venture comprised of contractors Mortenson, Hunt and Saunders, the towering LEED certified building honors flight and aviation, symbolizing wings of a bird in flight hovering above the plaza and the iconic tents of the Jeppesen Terminal.

Gensler also designed the 82,000-square-foot, open-air plaza, framed by two 150-foot canopies that connect the terminal to the hotel and transit center. The plaza is set to become Denver’s newest venue for arts, entertainment and relaxation, connecting the community to DIA.

“(The) opening of the Westin Denver International Airport marks the achievement of a major milestone towards our goal of solidifying DEN’s place on the world map, expanding economic growth in our region and elevating the overall travel experience in and through the Mile High City,” said airport CEO Kim Day. “This state-of-the-art addition will further the transformation of Denver’s airport into a destination in itself, with easy connectivity to all that Denver and the Rocky Mountain region have to offer.”

Soon after opening, guests will be able to check in right from their phones with SPG Keyless Entry, completely bypassing the front desk. Each room will include one of Westin’s signature Heavenly Beds and Heavenly Bath amenities, including the Heavenly Shower. Business travelers can rejuvenate and relax with Rocky Mountain views from the top-story WestinWORKOUT Fitness Studio, while families swim in the pool, both located in the “saddle” of the building.

“Denver is growing, and travelers from around the world flock to Colorado to enjoy the pristine Rocky Mountains. Now, business and personal travelers alike can enjoy every aspect of Westin’s brand promise for A Better You, right at the airport,” said Tom Curley, general manager of the Westin Denver International Airport.

In addition to all of its Heavenly amenities, guests at the Westin will also enjoy first-rate dining at the Grill & Vine Restaurant, complete with a spacious outdoor patio. Complimenting Westin’s core brand values, its menu will support wellness with simple, light, fresh foods while also focusing on locally sourced items, handcrafted cocktails and wines.

The expansive public art program at DIA and at the new Hotel and Transit Center will make traveling to Denver a topnotch artistic experience as well. The large-scale public art at the Hotel and Transit Center is focused on the three main public areas, starting at the train arrival area, at the escalator that ascends from the train hall to the plaza, and the plaza itself. All of DIA’s public art, including art within the hotel by Colorado artists, embrace aspects that reflect the region and enhance a sense of place at the airport. More information on the public art at DEN can be found at www.flydenver.com/art.


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‘Ambassador of Green Valley Ranch’ feted and teased at going-away party

November 23, 2015

I’ve said it before, but when you Google “customer service,” Steve Thomas’ picture pops up.

Thomas, a 14-year assistant golf pro at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club, was roasted and toasted Thursday night at the historic Cherry Creek North home of the golf course owner and head of Oakwood Homes Pat Hamill.

The jovial party, held at Hamill’s Harman House, attracted Green Valley members, employees, family and fans of Thomas, the employee who exemplified hospitality and had a knack for making every player feel special.

He is leaving the golf club, where he’s worked since it opened, to work with at his brother’s trucking business as well as trying his hand at day trading.

Hamill, who spoke during the festivities, warned Thomas that the testimonials would be a combination of “honoring and roasting.”

“This occasion gives me a heavy heart,” Hamill said. “You will always be a part of the family.”

GVR President Kevin Laura called Thomas “the king of guest service.” He said, “You are the ambassador of GVR.”

To honor Thomas’ 14 years, Laura presented the man of the hour with the first Steven Mark Thomas Certificate of Merit, an award that the golf club plans to award annually to an employee who exhibits outstanding hospitality. Laura also awarded Thomas a lifetime honorary membership to the golf course – including a golf cart – the highest level of membership.

Thomas, who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention, said, “I’m fighting back tears. Every last one of you guys are family to me. We were there, and we did that.”

I will miss you Mr. Handsome. You are a doll.

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Brown Palace traditional champagne cascade takes place Sunday

November 23, 2015

A master swordsman severs champagne bottles with a Napoleonic saber. Moet Chandon cascades down a two-story pyramid of glasses under 100,000 twinkling lights. You could only be at The Brown Palace.

This annual tradition continues from 11 am. (with a special appearance by Santa to turn on the holiday lights including a 25-foot chandelier donned in gold and silver beading, 100,000 lights and 4,800 ornaments) to 1 p.m. Sunday. The event is free and open to the public with viewing on floors four through seven.


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Southwest Rink at Skyline Park opens Tuesday

November 23, 2015

The Downtown Denver Partnership and Southwest Airlines invite you to join them at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday to kick off the sixth consecutive year of the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park at 16th and Arapahoe.

Southwest Airlines and the Downtown Denver Partnership have invited families from Children’s Hospital Colorado to the Southwest Rink to be among the first to skate on the freshly-frozen ice. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be served on opening day.

Rink season is from Tuesday through Feb. 15. The Southwest Rink offers free ice skating seven days a week. Skaters are welcome to bring their own skates or rent a pair for $2.

For more information and rink hours, please visit www.SouthwestRink.com.

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Public menorah lighting sparks start of Chanukah

November 23, 2015

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock will join elected officials and leaders of Colorado’s Jewish community to light the Chanukah candles at JEWISHcolorado’s public menorah in southeast Denver starting at 5 p.m. Dec. 9.

“We are honored to have Gov. Hickenlooper and Mayor Hancock join us in lighting the Menorah,” said Doug Seserman, CEO of JEWISHcolorado. “Together, we are dedicated in sharing the light of Chanukah across our community, in Israel and around the world.  We share the light of hope, the light of justice, the light of understanding and the light of faith.”

Last year, more than 150 people attended the ceremony. The Chanukah celebration is in collaboration with the Jewish Community Center of Denver. The event is open to the public and is for all ages.  It will include light refreshments as well as a musical performance by the JCC Early Childhood Center. The event will be held at the JCC upper parking lot, 350 S. Dahlia St.  Please visit www.JEWISHcolorado.org for more information.


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Laugh line: Today’s eavesdropping

November 23, 2015

Eavesdropping on a man’s Facebook post: “Sign on Colorado Blvd: ‘Nothing says Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie wrestling at Shotgun Willies!’ Geez, try answering the question, ‘What is pumpkin pie wrestling, Daddy?’ from your 5-year-old daughter.”

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Four Colorado resorts named ‘America’s Best Towns for the Holidays’

November 20, 2015

Travel + Leisure magazine readers have chosen “America’s Best Towns for the Holidays” and four Colorado burgs have made the list. Aspen took the top spot in the pool of 25 festive spots.

The article said about Aspen, “A combination of luxe living and quaint charm helped this Rocky Mountain town capture the spot as the merriest of them all. Wandering along Cooper Avenue, you may chance upon cookie exchanges, public s’mores roasts or elf meet-and-greets. But the two most famous hotels in town act as the nerve centers for holiday cheer. The lobby of the Hotel Jerome regularly hosts carolers, while the Ajax Tavern and Element 47 at the Little Nell both serve fabulous holiday meals, with indulgences like venison loin with huckleberries, black truffles and chestnut-and-caramel profiteroles. The Little Nell also hosts the all-you-can-sip Bottomless Cristal New Year’s Eve Party.

The other three Colorado towns with super holiday spirit are Vail, No. 2; Breckenridge, No. 6 and Telluride, No. 18.

Check out the whole story at www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-towns-for-the-holidays.

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Virginia Village/Ellis Community releases its community-brewed ale

November 20, 2015

The Virginia Village/Ellis Community Association’s  Community Hops Program released its Carnation Cream Ale Thursday at Esters Pub, 1950 S. Holly St. This ale is the first community-brewed, publicly available beer in Colorado. VVECA also unveiled the newly developed, community-driven logo. Both the release of the ale and logo are part of the VVECA initiative, “Virginia Village Beautiful 2015” program, new approaches for building a stronger community and identity.

“The efforts to create this ale and a logo are perfect examples of what a community can do when they work together,” said Scott Whitfield, president of VVECA.

The Carnation Cream Ale is a simple cream ale brewed and dry hopped with Virginia Village-grown Cascade and Brewer’s Gold hops. The dry hopped process adds a tart finish and the carnation petals represent the neighborhood. Virginia Village housed many carnation greenhouses during Colorado’s carnation heyday that started in the 1920s. By the mid-20th century Denver was known as the “Carnation Capital of the World,” and Colorado remained the number one producer of carnations worldwide until 1974.

The VVECA Community Hops Program, launched in 2015, brings together local gardeners and homebrewers around the dream of not only growing hops, but turning those hops into a community-brewed beer. Neighbors collaborated with Brew on Broadway, an Englewood-based brewery, to craft the beer.

“The motivation for creating a community hops program comes from the idea that historically people organized their communities around growing crops, sharing resources, and, not surprisingly making beer,” said Seth Gregg, leader of the VVECA Community Hops Program. “We found gardening and beer-making to be relaxing as well as create a strong sense of community.”

The neighborhood also sought to develop a stronger identity for its residents, and held a logo contest to solicit ideas that captured the neighborhood’s character. A community contest drew hundreds of online votes and much debate about how to represent a changing neighborhood of low-slung ranch homes from the 1950s and 1960s. Joe Schlue’s design was selected as the winner by the community.

“Crafting a logo is no different than crafting a fine neighborhood beer. You strive to capture the essence of place, balance its complex characters—sour, spicy, bitter, sweet—and compliment the rich heritage,” Schlue said. “I have a real connection to Virginia Village and being able to contribute in this way was a rewarding experience. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see something they made on a bottle of beer?”

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DCPA performers team up for holiday cabaret at Hard Rock Cafe Monday

November 20, 2015

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is partnering with Hard Rock Cafe for a night of holiday hits, rock ‘n’ roll and show tunes to benefit DCPA Education and The Denver Actors Fund on Monday. This special event marks the first time in history that all DCPA shows performing or rehearsing at the same time will share a stage for a benefit concert.

The night also includes exclusive auction opportunities such as two tickets to opening night of “Sweeney Todd” with access to the cast/crew opening night party, two orchestra tickets with a backstage tour to Disney’s “The Lion King” and more.

Cast members from Disney’s “The Lion King”, “A Christmas Carol” and “The SantaLand Diaries” will entertain attendees following happy hour and dinner at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Hard Rock Cafe Denver on the 16th Street Mall in the Denver Pavilions. Cost is $25 for the show (food and drinks not included). For tickets, go to www.denvercenter.org/holidaycabaret.

One hundred percent of ticket sales equally benefit DCPA Education’s student matinee program and The Denver Actors Fund. The fund is a source of immediate relief when members of the Denver metro theater community (on or off stage) find themselves in situational medical need.

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