Biz Trip: Denver

The area in and around Denver's historic Union Station is the locus for a redevelopment boom downtown (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

The area in and around Denver’s historic Union Station is the locus for a redevelopment boom downtown (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Even the most notorious nose-to-the-grindstone business traveler will have a difficult time not having fun in sunny, booming Denver, Colorado.

Its location near the geographic center of the US, a world-class airport and a rash of recent hotel developments in its pedestrian-friendly core have combined to make Denver an increasingly regular stop on the business travel circuit. Over the last three years a hotel building boom has added some 1,400 new rooms. For example, a brand new Marriott Renaissance just opened in the elegant, former Colorado National Bank Building downtown.

Also, the city’s diverse economy has weathered the recent economic storm better than most other major US cities. The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation recently revised its forecast due to better-than-expected gains in employment, retail sales and applications for residential building permits.

Looking for the perfect souvenir from a biz trip to Denver? Check out the classic Rockmount Ranch Wear store downtown (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Looking for the perfect souvenir from a biz trip to Denver? Check out the classic Rockmount Ranch Wear store downtown (Photo: Chris McGinnis)

Denver’s historic centre is in the middle of massive redevelopment in and around Union Station, which is located in the lower downtown area known among locals as “LoDo”. This year the Beaux Arts-style rail station is emerging as a new multi-modal transportation hub, with a 112-room hotel and an expansive indoor/outdoor dining and retail area. With nine new office buildings under construction within a few blocks, the end result will be an unusual mix of modern glass and steel alongside the area’s original red brick, iron, stone and timber buildings.

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Denver International Airport is considered one of the best airports in the world – and one of the least expensive. Stiff competition among low-fare carriers like Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines (along with the dominant United Airlines) has reduced average fares to and from Denver by about 28% over the last decade. Last year the airport added new long haul nonstops to and from Tokyo, Mexico City and Reykjavik.

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You’ll soon be able to take the train to the plane from downtown Denver. (Photo: RTD)

However, the airport’s distance from downtown – some 40 to 60 minutes by car or cab depending on traffic –  has long irritated visitors. That frustration will evaporate in 2016 when the new FasTracks East Rail Line will cut the duration of the 25-mile trip between downtown and the newly renovated Union Station to just 30 minutes. In the meantime, cab fares from the airport to downtown are set at $55.15 plus tip. Renting a car is another option, but be aware of steep fees if you plan to park at a downtown hotel.

Where should you stay in Denver? Dine? Entertain or spend a free afternoon? Read Chris’s entire BBC post here. But come back to TravelSkills to post your comments, observations, tips and advice! 

(Chris McGinnis’s post about Denver originally appeared on BBC.com in May 2013)

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