The Ritz-Carlton Denver

STAYING AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, DEVNER on the way to or from Colorado's ski country adds an urban counterpoint to a skiing or snowboarding vacation. It can take away the stress of driving I-70 on a snowy day to catch a plane at Denver's airport, or give your clients a place to stay overnight if they reach Denver late in the day.  From a Denver King Room, a look at the city  as night falls

The hotel opened in early January with a ritzy display of the style and service required to earn AAA five-diamond and Mobil five-star ratings. Although downtown Denver boasts several upscale hotels, the Ritz-Carlton, Denver's ambiance, decor and level of service definitely raise the bar for travelers who seek pampering in the Mile High City.

The Ritz-Carlton is at Curtis and 18th streets, just a few blocks from Denver's lively Lower Downtown (LoDo) district, filled with restaurants and galleries, the pedestrian 16th Street Mall and the Denver Performing Arts Complex. One perk the property offers: On weekdays, guests can hitch a ride in the hotel's Rolls-Royce Phantom anywhere within a five-mile radius from 7 to 11 a.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. The bathroom of the Denver King Room features a glass shower door and double sinks

Decor in the hotel marries Colorado mountain casual with urban chic. Guests enter a lobby warmed by marble and wood-paneled walls mimicking the colors of the Rocky Mountains.

The standard rooms average 550 square feet, have feather beds and down comforters, flat-panel TVs and calf-height automatic light sensors for travelers who walk around in the middle of the night. Every guest room has a two-sink bathroom with an oversized tub, separate shower and Bulgari toiletries. While all the rooms have city views, guests in rooms ending in 19 or 20 also may be able to see the sun setting behind the mountains.

The most-requested premium accommodations are on the Club Level, which has a sprawling lounge with secluded areas for working or watching TV, in addition to the lavish food choices for breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea and evening hors d'oeuvres expected by Ritz-Carlton Club Level regulars.

The 47 suites vary in size up to the 3,000-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite, which has a living room, dining room, media room and large bedroom that wraps around one side of the building.

The two 2,500-square-foot luxury suites also have separate living and dining rooms, while the deluxe suites have a parlor area off the bedroom. Suites ending in 05 and 15 have an extra half-bathroom and are slighter larger. For VIP room reservations, contact Jenna Mousley, the local reservations supervisor ([email protected], 303-312-3832).

Onsite meeting spaces include a large ballroom and smaller rooms with upholstered walls, hand-blown glass chandeliers and ceilings that reflect light from flecks of real gold mixed into the paint. They are lovely wedding venues. (A wedding was held here the weekend the hotel opened.) The contact for wedding planning is Kristy Chenell, director of catering sales, at 303-312-3825. The hotel's spa won't be open until spring, but guests have access to the adjacent Forza Fitness and Performance Club.

Elway's, the hotel's signature restaurant named after the Denver Broncos' two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback John Elway, has arguably the sleekest-looking sports bar in town. On game days, sports fans perch on suede seats at the by-the-piece raw bar and watch the action on overhead TVs or chat with friends while sitting on soft chairs in the intimate lounge area. In the restaurant section, light from contemporary glass fixtures flatters diners feasting on classic Elway's fare, such as hand-cut USDA prime steaks. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially for the chef's table.

Introductory rates at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver ( run as low as $249 a night for weekends and $349 for weekdays through March. Two ongoing packages may appeal to travelers who love to shop or want their own Mercedes-Benz to go exploring. The "Key to Luxury" package, which starts at $449 per room per night, includes Club Level accommodations and use of a Mercedes-Benz with unlimited mileage. The American Express Experiential Shopping Package, priced from $299 a night, includes Club Level accommodations, transfers to Neiman Marcus at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center in the Rolls-Royce (based on availability) and a personal shopping consultation.

If your clients love art, book tickets to "Inspiring Impressionism" in the architecturally bold, titanium-clad expansion at the Denver Art Museum. The show offers side-by-side comparisons demonstrating that Impressionists such as Monet, Degas and Renoir drew inspiration from earlier painters like Raphael, El Greco, Rubens and Velazquez. The show, which features about 100 works of art, runs February 23-May 25. Room and dining reservations in Denver will be hardest to get August 25-28 during the Democratic National Convention.


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