Denver Airport

Go skating at Denver and Munich Airports

Ice-skating kid with pillow

(At least) two airports will have free skating rinks on site this holiday season so travelers can take a spin on the ice while waiting for their flights.

Denver International Airport’s rink opens on Friday, in the outdoor plaza between the main terminal and the Westin Denver International Airport. The rink, complete with carolers and seasonal music, will be there through January 1, from 9 in the morning till 9 at night.

Time on the ice is free and complimentary skates are available.

The DEN Plaza is also where you’ll find a Holiday Market on December 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m and, starting at 4 pm on December 16, an ugly holiday sweater party and a showing of the film “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

There’s also a free ice-skating rink at Munich Airport – with a space set aside for curling – as part of the airport’s Christmas Market.

The market, set in a ‘forest’ of more than 450 pine trees, runs through December 30 and is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 pm. (Booths close at 5 on Christmas Eve)

In addition to free skating (there is a small fee for renting skates), Munich Airport’s Christmas Market has food booths, entertainment, craft workshops and, of course, a visit from St. Nick.

Colorado sights seen from space at Denver Int’l Airport

DEN SATELLITE IMAGE 1

Irrigation crop circles and some of the other images in a new exhibit at Denver International Airport may look familiar to window-seat fliers – but these images of iconic Colorado locations are all taken by satellites.

DEN SATELLITE IMAGE 2

“The Centennial State from Space”, produced by Westminster, Colo.-based DigitalGlobe and on loan from the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum, includes high-resolution satellite images taken from five different satellites positioned more than 400 miles above the Earth.

DEN SATELLITE IMAGE 3

Look for Coors Field, the Air Force Academy, agricultural fields in Monte Vista and more at Y-Juncture Gallery, located just past the A-bridge security checkpoint along the pedestrian walkway. The gallery will be in place through September.

(All photos courtesy Denver International Airport)

Denver Airport Super Bowl ready

Denver Broncos Statue

Football fan or not, if you’re traveling through Denver International Airport this week, you’ll know that the town is rooting for the Denver Broncos to win Super Bowl 50.

Take a look at the amenities that have popped up and how the terminals have taken on an orange hue.

Denver Broncos lounge

The Great Hall in the center of the Jeppesen Terminal on level 5 has been decked out with Broncos-colored lounge furniture. “The Broncos Experience Zone” also includes a life-sized cutout of Broncos mascot, Miles, and a giant image of the airport’s famous blue “Mustang” for passengers to take photos with.

Denver broncos selfie stand

Denver Broncos desk

Everyone loves puppies, so DEN airport is hosting its own DEN Puppy Bowl from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday in the center of the Jeppesen Terminal on level 5.

There’s more… the announcement on the train between concourses has been changed. Now you’ll hear a pro-Broncos message from Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. And, at the information booths on all three concourses, DEN staff will be handing out a variety of Bronco-orange products today through Sunday. Head there for Orange Crush soda, oranges, orange candy, beads, buttons and more.

Denver broncos astronaut

All photos courtesy Denver International Airport

Denver Airport’s new Westin hotel

DEN KEY

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.”

Strollers, car seats for rent at Denver Airport

den strollers

Here’s a great amenity for families traveling with small children we’re declaring “airport amenity of the week.”

At Denver International Airport (DEN), there’s now a place to rental strollers, car seats and other kid-stuff you might need for your time in the city.

Vea Kids, in the Jeppesen Terminal near passenger arrivals in the center of the Great Hall, not only rents strollers, kid-carrier backpacks and kid tents, they rent “pack n’ play” sets and sell diapers, pacifiers, bottles, organic snacks, wipes and other kid products.

You can order the gear online and the company offers free pick-up and drop-off in the baggage claim area. Here’s a link to a price list. Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.