Posts in the category "Hotels":

What to do in Denver

I spent a few days poking around Denver while waiting for the new Westin to open out at the airport and, thanks to the enthusiastic folks at the Colorado Tourism Office, Visit Denver and a host of others, found plenty to keep me entertained and planning a return trip.

Here’s a quick look at a few places I had a chance to visit.


If you’ve got someone driving you into the city from the airport, plan your arrival to coincide with the Tasting Room public hours at Leopold Bros. distillery, on the way into town. On the menu: tasty, award-winning, small batch whiskies, gins, vodka, liqueurs and a few other spirits all made right there.

In town, I stayed at the Crawford Hotel, located inside Denver’s historic, restored Union Station.

Denver Crawford

The station’s Great Hall – which has more than a dozen restaurants, bars and boutique shops – serves as the hotel’s lobby and has become a living room-style gathering spot for locals. Upstairs, some of the 112 rooms are “Pullman-style,” in a nod to the heyday of train travel, with ‘classic” and roomy “loft’ rooms rounding out the other options.

The Oxford Hotel, which first opened in 1891, is a block from the train station. In the lobby you’ll find a cozy, wood-burning fireplace and a caged canary (a holdover from the days when miners were frequent guests) and, upstairs, this vintage “business center.”

Guests who take the time to type a letter can have it mailed for free.

Denver Oxford

While in town, I visited the bigger-than-I-imagined Denver Art Museum, spending most of my time with the Western American Art collection, and toured Hostel Fish, where they have a fresh, modern take on the classic hosteling experience.

denver hostel fish

In addition to meals inside The Source and AvantiF&B, two multi-merchant venues, I sat down to dinner at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, a popular restaurant and music venue in a former brothel, and visited the wizards at The Inventing Room dessert shop, where chef Ian Kleinman whipped up some crazy treats, including chocolate cinnamon nitro popcorn.

Denver _InventingRoomNitroPopcorn

Back at Denver International Airport, I made sure to arrive well ahead of my flight so I could enjoy a meal at Root Down,, in the center core of Concourse C.

The menu there is “field to fork” and the decor is very definitely fun and funky.

Denver AIrport Root Down

Denver Airport’s new Westin hotel


I was a lucky reporter and got to stay at the Denver International Airport’s new Westin hotel on opening night.

I skipped the parties, choosing instead to work and enjoy the views of the mountains from my room and put together this story for CNBC.

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Chicago O’Hare International Airport has one, and so does Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Orlando International Airport. There are also two at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, while Frankfurt Airport has three.

Now, Denver Airport has an on-site hotel too.

The 519-room Westin at Denver International Airport is open for business, with the city now joining the ranks of travel hubs that can send travelers to their destinations, or put them up for the night in style.

The city- and county-owned airport spent at least $580 million to build the hotel (Denver owns it, while Westin manages it), an adjacent public plaza and a commuter rail station that will begin operation in April.

The swooping, sleek Gensler-designed Westin is adjacent to the city’s iconic tented main terminal, which sits 25 miles from the city center. The hotel walls are all glass, and the top-story pool and fitness center offer views of the Rocky Mountains. There’s public art inside and out, a conference center, and welcoming places to eat or have a drink. At some point, an airport security checkpoint with 20 lanes will open in the building.

Westin pool

While the Denver Westin will certainly offer a convenient landing spot for business and leisure travelers, airport and city officials are confident it will be much more than that.

In fact, they’re banking on it.

These new amenities “are the first steps toward leveraging [the airport] as an economic powerhouse that will create tens of thousands of new jobs and bring more business opportunity to Metro Denver,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said at the ribbon-cutting for the hotel’s opening.

Cities across the nation are moving to take advantage of the movement to transform airports into makeshift resorts. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $4 billion plan announced earlier this year for LaGuardia Airport contains an option to create a hotel.

Cuomo also announced that the empty Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport would be transformed into the $250 million TWA Flight Center Hotel.

Hancock told CNBC that when he joins airport officials at international marketing events “we hear that international passengers expect a quality hotel and a train connection to downtown” at the airport. “Having these things helps us compete as an airport and as a city on an international scale,” he said.

There’s another upside to having this high-profile hotel on airport property.

“Right out of the box this is going to generate money for us — nonaeronautical revenue. We estimate a million to 2 million a year starting next year,” said the airport’s CEO, Kim Day. “That helps keep the costs to air carriers low and incentivizes them to add more flights.”

A hotel (and a train station) were included in the original plans for the airport, which opened in 1995. But, over the years, attempts at getting the hotel project going were repeatedly thwarted. First, it was the downturn in air traffic after 9/11. Later, it was the economic recession, Day told CNBC.

While he’s looking forward to spending a night at what he describes as “one of the most interesting-looking hotels I’ve seen in a long time,” business travel expert Joe Brancatelli keeps wondering why it took the airport so long to make the hotel happen.

“Does Denver airport need a quality hotel? Of course it does,” said Brancatelli. “Will this one change the competitive balance of airports around the country? Absolutely not. The big win here that an important airport with a relatively large number of international flights finally has a hotel.”

Souvenir Sunday: DEN’s new Westin

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

The ribbon-cutting for the new Westin hotel at Denver International Airport took place Thursday, November 19 and everyone who attended received a souvenir mug that came with a nice ‘bounceback” perk’: through April 30, 2016, anyone who brings the mug to the hotel’s Sky Lounge lobby bar or the Grill and Vine restaurant is eligible for a complimentary drink with the purchase of an appetizer or entree.


First night guests also received a souvenir keycard:


Early look: new Westin at Denver Airport

photo by Harriet Baskas

For months, a countdown clock and a bed inside the main terminal at Denver International Airport have been reminding travelers that a new Westin hotel was under construction next door.

This Thursday, the 14-story, 519-room Westin Denver International Airport hotel finally opens.

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

I’ll be there on Friday for the official ribbon cutting ceremony, but stopped by on Monday for a tour while workers were rushing to ready the hotel for guests.

Photo by Harriet Baskas

Signs point to the plaza leading to the hotel and the transit station (which won’t open until April), but the doors don’t yet open.


When the doors do open, travelers will be able to walk directly from the main terminal, across a covered plaza, to the hotel.

Part of the hotel's commissioned artwork, waving metal blades mimic the grasses of the Colorado plains.

Part of the hotel’s commissioned artwork, waving metal blades mimic the grasses of the Colorado plains.

Westin lobby

The 6th floor Sky Lobby has a Sky Lounge bar and this open seating area.

Westin pool

The 11th floor pool offers views to downtown Denver – and the mountains beyond.

Stay tuned for more photos later in the week.

Survey of hotel habits – good and bad

Wolcott Hotel Elevator Buttons

Expedia just released the results of its 2015 Hotel Etiquette Study, which asked 1,022 Americans to share tidbits about their behavior at hotels and to evaluate the behavior of other hotel guests.

67 percent said parents who let their kids run wild are the most aggravating hotel guests, 64 percent said “Hallway Hellraisers” were the most irritating, while 54 percent of Americans complained about guests who berate hotel staff over minor inconveniences.

Survey respondents were also asked about some of the things they did in hotel rooms, such as hoarding toiletries, smoking, sneaking in extra guests and taking home hotel property, but I was most intrigued by the section on tipping.

According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans tip the hotel housekeeper, but 27 percent do not tip hotel employees at all.

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