Enjoying Glenwood Springs like a tourist | PostIndependent.com

Enjoying Glenwood Springs like a tourist

Tourism is Everybody's BusinessKate CollinsGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kate Collins

The first week of July was vacation time for my family and me – in our own backyard. Vacationing in one’s own environment is perspective-building, particularly for me, with my role to promote all the great reasons to come to Glenwood Springs. And it has always seemed illogical to me to leave Colorado in the summertime, when there is so much to enjoy. Our new Glenwood Springs brand says “Soak it all in.” We did just that.Our family camped and played in the White River National Forest that surrounds Glenwood Springs. A reminder worth noting: It is 2.3 million acres that comprise some of Colorado’s finest peaks, valleys, rivers and ski areas. It attracts many thousands of domestic and international visitors each year.Slipping into the Hot Springs Pool at 9 p.m. made us feel like we were getting away with something (hey, we can swim until 10 p.m. and no one can stop us), and the gondola to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is considered a joy ride by our kids. (Although the solo ascent on my bike clearly is not. But I love the idea that I’m working on a net calorie deficit in the cool and beautiful early morning, and zipping down is a hoot.) Horseback rides at Sunlight and Redstone Stables were memory-builders for our 9-year-olds.

A day trip took us to the Maroon Bells, a perennial favorite of mine. The experience has changed over the years from a climb to the top of Buckskin Pass, to, more recently, a leisurely hike to Crater Lake with the kids. Outstanding. The activities in Glenwood Springs, coupled with the allure of everything else within a short drive, make Glenwood the perfect hub-and-spoke locale for the ideal Colorado getaway. That idea – that Glenwood is central to all things fun – is the foundation for maintaining and developing some new visitor segments in 2008 and beyond, so that all 12 months of the year can yield the same prosperity as we enjoy in the June through August time frame. Good news: May and September are coming close to summer in terms of both occupancy and rates for local lodges.I came to doubly appreciate the effort and investment that visitors put into planning their Glenwood Springs getaways. Our brand equity is strong, with new and returning guests contributing to revenues that are pacing 28 percent ahead of 2006. Summer lodging is nearly at capacity, a stellar trend for all of our tourism stakeholder businesses, which include lodging, activities, attractions, amenities, retail and restaurants. The increase in tourism promotion fund revenues from our accommodations tax, commensurate with this year’s success, gives us the ability to reinvest in our industry. We’ll be pushing on existing and new opportunities with emphasis on the October through April time frame.

The 2008 tourism marketing plan, nearly finalized, will focus on: 1. Increasing winter business December through March, with individuals and groups as targets, attracting both in-state and destination skiers into regional airports. Winter is a possible hub-and-spoke opportunity, since Glenwood boasts Sunlight Mountain Resort, aptly termed a “gem” by Colorado Ski Country USA, coupled with the fact that we’re in the middle of ski country with lodging values (relative to our neighboring ski areas) and unique amenities.2. Sustaining Front Range interest – an estimated 85 percent of Glenwood Springs’ tourism core. An extensive 12-month cable and billboard campaign is in the works.3. Building on the Springs Thaw promotion, successful in its first year in 2007, to boost April and May with Front Range and regional locals visits from Vail and Summit County. The message: Glenwood Springs has early summer activities and warmer temperatures than other Colorado alpine destinations at that time of year.

4. Targeting groups and meetings for fall, spring and winter with the right media placement, messaging and sales to increase destination wedding business, family reunions and corporate retreats.The 2008 strategies are exciting, and they’ll be fun to execute. Before I get too much ahead of myself, I plan to enjoy all that the Glenwood Springs weather, recreation, and relaxation bring for the coming weeks of summer. I hope you and your family are soaking it all in, too.Kate Collins is vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association

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