Business trip: Denver
In recent years, a parade of brand-name hotels has opened along 14th Street, across from Denver’s convention centre. The newest of the crowd is the 302-room Homewood Suites by Hilton / Hampton Inn & Suites, which opened in April 2013 and is notable for its adaptive reuse of an existing building. This unusual “hybrid” hotel (two brands in a single building) is housed in a converted mid-century modern, 13-storey office tower that was gutted and converted into a hotel. The starkly modern, art-filled lobby is split between the two brands, with separate front desks and dining areas, but with communal space for meetings and a shared indoor pool and fitness centre. Homewood Suites accommodations are designed for extended stays and include small kitchens and separate seating areas, while Hampton Inn rooms are smaller, but have nice touches such as mini-refrigerators and microwaves. Both brands offer complimentary wi-fi and breakfast.
The popular 403-room Embassy Suites Denver opened in December 2010, and recently joined some very high-class peers as one of TripAdvisor’s Top 25 US Hotels for 2013. Guests enjoy large two-room suites, cooked-to-order breakfasts, a 24-hour fitness facility with a swimming pool, and a prime location directly across the street from the front door of the convention centre.
Mingle with the downtown corporate crowd for a healthy, organic and sustainable lunch at The Kitchen, a big, bright community bistro in LoDo. Enjoy farm-to-table favourites such as Colorado lamb burgers in a rambling collection of large, rustic, exposed brick-and-timber dining rooms, brightened by the large floor-to-ceiling windows.
For something lighter, check out Rioja, also in Larimer Square, where James Beard Foundation award winning chef Jennifer Jasinski turns out a frequently updated menu of Mediterranean-inspired fare, such as coconut-carrot braised rabbit leg, artichoke tortellini or pan-roasted venison.
For a close look at the new urbanism on the western side of downtown – complete with gorgeous views from a buzzy indoor/outdoor dining room and deck – wander over to Linger, which offers a diverse menu of dishes from around the world, such as Indian masala dosa, Middle Eastern carrot and lentil falafel or Mongolian barbecue duck buns.
Off the clock
The steps of the Colorado state capitol building downtown are exactly 5,280ft above sea level, which is why Denver is known (literally) as the “Mile-high City”. To adjust to the altitude, get out of your hotel room, board room or meeting room and take a walk. If you are downtown, start your stroll somewhere along the city’s pedestrian-only corridor, the 16th Street Mall, and head west toward the mountains. The original tree-lined mall is exactly one mile long, but as you near its western end at Wynkoop Street, continue past the construction sites around Union Station and LoDo. Crossing the pedestrian bridge, you can peer into the rapids (or rocks depending on the season) of the Platte River. Continue heading west, and you will cross another pedestrian bridge over I-25, Colorado’s main north-south freeway. On the western side of the bridge is Lower Highlands, one of Denver’s newest, trendiest neighbourhoods, known among locals as LoHi. Once there, turn around and soak in the city skyline views, or stop for a locally brewed beer at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
If you rented a car, try to spend an afternoon in hip Boulder, a gorgeous university town in the foothills of the Rockies about 30 miles northwest of downtown. Spend a day strolling the Pearl Street Mall or join the healthy, outdoorsy locals scrambling around the trails and rock faces of Chautauqua Park.