September 7, 2017

New kids on the blocks: Hotels bring needed event space to area cities

Construction cranes have towered over Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley in recent months, as contractors worked feverishly to bring several new hotel projects online. But several of those developments will bring not only additional hotel rooms to the market, but also highly coveted event space.

From an Embassy Suites in Boulder to a DoubleTree by Hilton in Greeley to The Elizabeth boutique hotel in Fort Collins, projects that have been years in the making will provide new options for event planners seeking additional venue options.

In Boulder, the Embassy Suites by Hilton will encompass 204 rooms, sitting alongside the new 172-room Hilton Garden Inn and across Canyon Boulevard from a new Residence Inn by Marriott. But it’s the Embassy Suites, scheduled to open in November, that has event planners excited. The hotel will include 6,500-square-foot ballroom that can accommodate 550 people at rounds of 10 and 750 theater-style.

The Embassy Suites will compete with the likes of the Millennium Hotel at 1345 28th St., with a 5,000-square-foot ballroom; the Glenn Miller Ballroom at the University of Colorado Boulder’s University Memorial Center, encompassing 9,300 square feet; the Stadium Club at Folsom Field; and the St. Julien Hotel and Spa at 900 Walnut St., accommodating 300 people in a 4,800-square-foot ballroom. The Hotel Boulderado at 2115 13th St. includes 10,000 square feet of conference space, with the ballroom totaling 2,867 square feet.

The Embassy Suites will provide an option not found in other Boulder hotels. Some events have shifted over the years to the 390-room Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield, which includes a 9,200-square-foot ballroom and a total of 40,000 square feet of event space.

“Because it is now the largest ballroom in any hotel in Boulder again, it brings back those events that haven’t been able to be here in many years,” said Angela Blackstock, director of sales and marketing for the Embassy Suites. She added that the most-comparable space in Boulder would be on the CU campus.

Blackstock said Boulder has needed more conference space for years, and interest in the new hotel has been high, with some groups booking into 2018 and even 2019.

“I think people are just so excited that there is another option now in Boulder,” she said. “We know what we’re adding is of value to the city.”

In addition to the Embassy Suites, the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn — both hotels are being branded as the Hiltons on Canyon — will include a couple of small conference rooms suitable for board meetings or popup meetings.

The Elizabeth Hotel will bring 3,400 square feet of meeting space to Old Town Fort Collins. Chad collins / bizwest

In Fort Collins, The Elizabeth Hotel is scheduled to open in November at 111 Chestnut St., adding 164 hotel rooms to the city’s portfolio. The hotel is being built on the former site of the Armadillo restaurant in Fort Collins’ vibrant Old Town. It will include 3,400 square feet of conference space — enough to handle events of up to 225 people and providing a new event option downtown.

Greeley’s DoubleTree by Hilton at Lincoln Park will bring a bigger transformation. The project will open in early September on the former site of the Greeley Public Library, Weld County Courts and the Greeley Fire Department. It sits directly across from Lincoln Park and adjacent to the Union Colony Civic Center.

The $31 million DoubleTree includes a 14,000-square-foot conference center and a 12,000-square-foot ballroom, making it the largest conference space to come to market in any regional city since construction of the Embassy Suites Loveland Hotel and Spa in 2009, with an 80,000-square-foot convention center..

And it’s that Loveland Embassy Suites that the Greeley hotel will compete with the most, as managers seek to bring new events to Northern Colorado — and lure some events from other properties.

The DoubleTree by Hilton at Lincoln Park will include 14,000 square feet of conference space. BizWest file photo

“I think we finally have a product that we can sell that will be a great anchor for us,” said Sarah MacQuiddy, CEO of the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, which operates Visit Greeley, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. “We’ve needed that anchor.”

She said the hotel will provide space that is complementary to the Union Colony Civic Center and Island Grove Regional Park, a county complex on the city’s northern edge that hosts the Greeley Stampede and other large-scale events. While Island Grove provides a multi-use events complex, the DoubleTree enables the city to attract business and nonprofit conferences.

“We finally can be competitive,” MacQuiddy said. ” We have not been able to be competitive, just due to a lack of conference space. The puts us back in the market in a major way.”

She said groups that haven’t been in Greeley in years — or ever — are looking at the city, with some large conferences booking spaces.

She noted that the University of Northern Colorado is continuing construction on Campus Commons, a $73.6 million project adjacent to the University Center that will include a 600-seat performance venue and a 400-seat auditorium.

With the DoubleTree adding to capacity at Island Grove, UNC, the UCCC and other spaces, MacQuiddy is bullish on Greeley’s future as a conference and event destination.

“The possibilities are now becoming endless,” she said. “There really won’t be a need that can’t be met here.”

Construction cranes have towered over Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley in recent months, as contractors worked feverishly to bring several new hotel projects online. But several of those developments will bring not only additional hotel rooms to the market, but also highly coveted event space.

From an Embassy Suites in Boulder to a DoubleTree by Hilton in Greeley to The Elizabeth boutique hotel in Fort Collins, projects that have been years in the making will provide new options for event planners seeking additional venue options.

In Boulder, the Embassy Suites by Hilton will encompass 204…

Christopher Wood
Christopher Wood is editor and publisher of BizWest, a regional business journal covering Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties. Wood co-founded the Northern Colorado Business Report in 1995 and served as publisher of the Boulder County Business Report until the two publications were merged to form BizWest in 2014. From 1990 to 1995, Wood served as reporter and managing editor of the Denver Business Journal. He is a Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder. He has won numerous awards from the Colorado Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists and the Alliance of Area Business Publishers.
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