2014 Annual Tourism Wrap Up Notes

Notes from the 2014 Annual Tourism Wrap Up

2014 Annual Tourism Wrap-Up

November 20, 2014

Avalon Theatre

Barbara Bowman welcomed everyone to this year’s Wrap-Up.  She further stated that tourism is one of the top 3 industries in Mesa County.  The GJVCB is currently developing a 3 – 5 year Strategic Plan and the VCB will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015.  We have received several industry awards this year including two Bronze Adrian Awards that we received this week for the direct mail creative piece to meeting planners and a new welcome email once guests sign-up for the monthly eNewsletter.


Palisade Chamber of Commerce – Juliann Adams:  Festivals this year were high in attendance.  The Peach Festival had 13,000 attendees in 2013.  For 2014, attendance grew to 15,000.  This is the first time the Peach Festival partnered with Grand Junction Rockies; the game rained out but four orchards were set up and served peach salsa and peach ice cream at the concession stands.  They will try this again in 2015.  Two new festivals were held in 2014; Brews and Cruise Festival, which had over 800 attendees, and in October the Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival which had around 500 people.  These festivals will be held again 2015.  The next festival is the Palisade Olde Fashioned Christmas. 


Epic Rides/Grand Junction Off-Road – Dave Grossman:  The 2nd annual Grand Junction Off-Road was held over Labor Day weekend.  He thanked all partners involved with the event including the BLM, City of Grand Junction, Downtown Development Authority, and the GJVCB.   This year there was a 25% increase in registrations over 2013 with 530 participants.  There were approximately 9,000 attendees over the 3-day event.  170 volunteers were involved.  Donated $5,300 dollars was donated to the Food Bank of the Rockies, The Avalon Theatre, and for trail redevelopment.  Additional statistics include:

--59% of the riders were new to the event and 25% of those had never been to GJ. 

--42% stayed 2 nights

--50% had 3 or more in their party

--2.5 million total web and print impressions; 1.3 million impressions were print alone 

Next year’s event will be held on May 29 – 31, 2015 pending permit approval from the BLM. 


Hampton Inn, Springhill Suites, and Fairfield Inn Downtown hotels – Cindy Goodrich:  The hotels had a great year with business from conventions.  Next year they do not expect as much convention business, however they do expect to get more transient business.  Hampton Inn will have a remodel in January, 2015.  The breakfast area was remodeled last spring.


Kannah Creek Brewing Company and Edgewater Brewery – Katlin Birdsall:  Business at Edgewater is up 25%.  They currently have distribution throughout the state of Colorado to over 200 liquor stores.  They began distributing in Arizona, Nebraska, and New Mexico.  Their focus for 2015 will include further distribution outside of Colorado and marketing their brand. 


Brad Taylor – GJVCB board member and co-chair for the Colorado Riverfront Commission:  Thanked the staff for organizing the Wrap-Up and thanked the participants for attending.  The Colorado Riverfront trail now connects Fruita and Grand Junction with 22 miles now open for public use.  Thanks to Mistalynn Meyeraan who worked with Google Earth (aka Google Trekker), people will see a street-view of the riverfront trails in the next 6 – 12 months, as well as other trails in the community. 


Bureau of Land Management, Grand Junction Field Office – Katie Stevens:  2014 was a busy year with the travel management plan, an inventory of trails and roads located within the Grand Junction field office area.  Visitation to BLM public lands were approximately 800,000 and 400,000 in conservation areas.  Cactus Park and the Lunch Loops are some of the most popular areas.  There is a new geology trail in Devils Canyon.  The campground in Rabbit valley has been revamped.  The field office managed about 51 special recreation permits this year.  This year’s projects include the Sarlacc Trail on the Bookcliffs; the 27 ¼ Road shooting range; collaboration with the 3 Sisters project; and updated signs in Bangs Canyon and north Fruita desert areas.  A mix of volunteers and interns have helped with the campgrounds.  A Water Bear was recently discovered in the soil crusts (area has not been communicated).   


Lavender Association – Susan Metzger:  This year’s Lavender Festival was held the 2nd weekend in July.  New activities were added.  Total attendance was 4,000 – approximately 1,000 more than last year.  The festival started on Friday with a bus tour to the lavender farms.  Added two ½ day tours which is more popular.  The evening concluded with a dinner.  Next year they will continue with all day tours and 1/2 day tours.  Saturday festival included educational workshops. 


Quality Inn – Rick Martindale:  Parking lot has been remodeled along with new sidewalks around the building.  New comforters are now in the rooms.  They have received three gold awards and may get a platinum award which means the property is in the top 2% of all Quality Inns in the country.  Business has really increased and this month is very busy. 


High Country Orchards and Colterris Winery – Theresa High:  This year saw an over the top harvest with peaches.  Whole Foods can't get enough of them and they hope to expand in other states.  Colterris Winery was on the lavender tour.  The area is growing; the peach and wine industries are growing.  Colterris now has wines at the Denver International Airport and they are expanding further in the Front Range.  They participated in the US Airways insert. 


Backstory Tours – Carolyn Emmanuel:  This year they partnered with Tour Mappers from Rhode Island.  The tour included 31 British tourists who stayed in Grand Junction 2 nights.  The railroad tour went through Pikes Peak, Georgetown, Royal Gorge, Alamosa, and the Durango narrow gauge.  Next year they are planning a hiking and biking tour, partnering with the Fairfield Inn and Hampton Inn downtown.    


Grande River Vineyards – Lynn Lickers:  2014 was a busy year.  Coming up in December will be the first ever Wine Into Winter barrel tasting event.  The concert series this year featured 9 concerts, including the Indigo Girls which had 1,000 people on the lawn and in the tasting room.  This is the first year where none of the concerts were rained out.  They have released 6 new wine vintages.  The harvest was lower this year.  They have spoken to people all over globe and U.S. who have traveled to various wineries in Sonoma, Napa Valley, etc., and comments include that Palisade is much friendlier and less snobby.  They also participated in US Airways insert and saw good results from that.  Next year they will participate in the Taste of Pearl event in Boulder.


La Quinta Inn and Suites – Mya Beckley:  They have experienced a good year.  This is the first year where they have seen significant increases over the prior year.  She thanked the GJVCB for their efforts. 


Clarion Inn and Econo Lodge – Jeff Sauer:  2014 has been a great year.  It started slow but now on a seven month run where year-over-year numbers have been up.  The Clarion Inn is ranked 9th out of 177 properties.  The Econo lodge has been ranked 3rd out of 714 Econo Lodge properties for 8 of the last 10 months and will probably receive a Platinum Award. 


Darshann Ruckman – Horizon Drive District board member:  The Horizon Drive project is on track to start in September, 2015, and conclude by June, 2016 – hopefully in time for the JUCO tournament.  The board has determined where the art will be placed on Horizon Drive.  There will be a presentation and display of the art on Friday evening, November 21, 2014.  Two talented artists have made the cut.  For any questions, contact Vara Kusal of the Horizon Drive District at var[email protected] or 970-985-1833.


Grand Vista – Phyllis Veale:  They had a great summer and so far the fall and winter looks great as well.  In 2013, they hosted 183 group tours; 65% were Chinese.  They will be remodeling in spring and are looking forward to 2015. 


Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE) – Casidee Shull:  CAVE is a non-profit organization for all wineries in the state.  2014 started with the VinCO Conference in January which is the largest wine conference in the state.  The conference also partners with the peach industry.  The next VinCO Conference will be held on January 13 – 15, 2015 at Two Rivers Convention Center.  The Colorado Urban Winefest was held in June of 2014.  This event has since been discontinued to focus on the Colorado Mountain Winefest.  This year’s Winefest was the 23rd annual and had an attendance of almost 6,000 people from 37 states and 4 countries on Saturday of the event.  Next year’s Winefest will be held on September 17 – 20, 2015.  Discounted tickets will go on sale on December 1, 2014.  There is now a free app on Android and iPhone called Colorado Wineries which provides a list of wineries in the state.  They are currently working with the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel on winter advertising for the holiday gift guide.  They are also working on dates for Wine Week in 2015.

American Spirit Shuttle—Bonnie Richards:  American Spirit Shuttle has hired a marketing person. They give tours, provide general transportation, handle transportation for airline diversions, and provide guided motor coach tours. They are in their 20th year in business.


Get Air at the Silo –Joe White:  They are a trampoline park and also have dodge ball, a basketball dunk court, a Ninja warrior style obstacle course, Pilates fitness and a parkour course. Business has been “up and down”. He expects it to “bounce back” in 2015, and has some new events planned for parkour.  They will also expand with fitness classes.


Museum of Western Colorado—Peter Booth:  The Museum has three facilities. Cross Orchards attendance was up 1500 people in 2014. Chautauqua was successful this year, and next year their theme will be “Rogues of History.” The Museum of the West attendance was up 1,000 people. Their fall exhibit, Treasures of Asia, was donated to the Museum in the 1960s and has never been seen by the public until now. Dino Journey is doing great—the dino dig quarry discovered the largest Apatosaurus ever found at 89-90 feet long.


Fruita Tourism Advisory Council—Sally d’Agostino:  Fruita had a great year with their festivals. The Fruita Fall Festival is 100 years old. French magazine writers were here and did stories on mountain biking. They are trying to appeal to more families in 2015.


Grand Junction Rockies—Tim Ray:  The Rockies are heading in to their third season in Grand Junction. They have hosted over 270,000 fans in three years. They have great relationships and partnerships with the community. They celebrated having their first minor league player moving up to play for the Colorado Rockies. They have a University partnership with the CMU Communications division, which video- streamed all home games from Grand Junction.  KREX TV picked up 12 of 38 home games, and in 2015 will televise 35 of 38 home games. Root Sports is condensing GJ Rockies games to half-hour shows with viewership across CO, WY, Idaho, and more.


Starunner Enterprises—Bethany Hall:   They are an event management company and organized the Dreamcatcher Half Marathon.  The average team stayed three nights for this event. They also sponsored the Moonlight Miles, which was a night running race that attracted 200 runners. They had a tie-in with Three Dreams Charters and Tours. The 2015 Dreamcatcher Half Marathon will be in March, and Moonlight Miles will move to September because of the heat.


U.S. Forest Service-Brenda Winfrey:  The Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre National Forest (GMUG) supports the local economies. Their focus is to have the Grand Mesa Visitor Center open Memorial Day to Labor Day. Last year 30,000 people visited that Center. The office in Grand Junction gets 9,000 visitors per year. GMUG was the 13th most visited forest in the entire forest system. Traffic counts on highway 65 in 2014 were 17,000 cars per month in peak periods. Powderhorn Resort hosted 85,000 skiers last year. GMUG also partners with the Grand Mesa Visitor Center to distribute their brochures.


Children's Nature Center – Shaver Hansen, board member:  The Nature Center opened in January of 2014. They started this to fill a need, since children on the western slope had little opportunity to visit a zoo. They had over 125 school field trips come through the facility. They feature everything from starfish to Michael Jackson’s pet albino python.


Grand Junction Golf Courses – Mike Mendelson:   In 2014, Tiara Rado saw an increase of 3,000 rounds of golf over the previous year.  Lincoln Park saw an increase of 1500 rounds of golf. They have some cooperative agreements with area hotels, and the Clarion and Grand Vista sent the most golfers their way.  They are trying to grow the number of group outings.  At Tiara Rado there has been a renovation of the Rock Bar & Grill.  This is a good site for meetings. They have hosted bachelor party golf outings, and wine tasting for groups.  In 2014 they booked a group with wine tasting, a limousine tour and golf.  In 2015 they will host the CPRA Midwest Conference in April with 200 attendees.


Mesa County Fairgrounds—Jo Carole Haxel:  They host events year round, from Guinea pig shows to tractor pulls. They had 480 events last year, drawing from the state and region. This included horse shows, dog shows, and the Mesa County Fair.  The new wine tasting at the Fair was very successful and they will host that again.  A facelift at the fairgrounds is underway. Two projects will be completed soon—a new entrance and a brand new arena.  The arena will be completed in December. Construction on the new BMX facility begins in January.


Allen Unique Auto—Erica Burgeon:  The VCB brought their volunteers out--thank you.  Changes at the facility include a new limousine service and an events center.  They will have holiday promotional packages with limousine service, wine tours, and bachelorette tours.  They also held concerts, movie premieres, car shows, car clubs, a Mustang tour, and a Mini-Cooper tour.  They have a Facebook page and a new contest to win a ride in one of their cars.  They now have a dealership license and will hold antique car auctions.  They have a Herbie Love Bug--will host the Love Bug movie. 


Courtyard and Residence by Marriott—Amanda Bowen:  They are renovating all rooms in 2015. Courtyard added a restaurant and Starbucks, and recently won an award as the #1 best property for Residence Inns.


America’s Best Value Inn—Sharon Woelfle, VCB Board Member:  Sharon suggested that in 2015 you do something you've never done before. For example, she attended two events in 2014 that opened her eyes to guests from all over. She reported that America's Best Value Inn had a good year in 2014 and tour business is solid and 2015 is looking good.


Junction West RV Park—Mari Garland:  January and February were record low for them, but they recovered this summer and into the fall with an increase in business. Lost oil and gas business.  Key trend - traveling with pets. Worked with VCB and shared research on pet friendly places in Grand Junction.  For 2015, they will focus on self-directed activities, kids’ activities, on-site activities such as outdoor scrabble and chess boards, scavenger hunts, and integrate with social media.


DoubleTree Hotel – Per Nilsson:  Revenues are up, almost a double digit rev/par increase in 2014. They were awarded the 2013 Hilton Pride Award-meaning they are in the top 5% of DoubleTree hotels in the world.  They were nominated for the 4th Quarter Hilton Cares Award.  There are over 5,000 people working in the hospitality industry in Colorado and their property had 3 nominations for state-wide industry service awards.  In 2015 they will be renovating the fitness center, adding in room safes, and get all new beds.  In 2016 there will be a complete guest room renovation.


Powderhorn Resort – Dave Smith:  Had a great season last year.  Season started off dry then January had 7 feet of snow in 11 days.  New event last season that will continue this season is Night skiing with Wagner Rents lights.  Skier visits were up 8%.  This was the first summer with organized events - 2 per month these included: Powderhorn Mud Dash, dirt bike racing series, music festival, paintball tournament, fall fest and color weekend.  Had 7 weddings over the summer and have 10 weddings scheduled already for this coming summer.  Bag jump with scissor lift – they brought the bag to several places around town for promotion.


Colorado Mesa University – Rick Taggert:  2013/14 enrollment was flat for first time in 10 years, which gives CMU a chance to catch their breath after recent significant growth. The school has grown from 5,000 to 9500 over the last 10 years! Applications for fall 2015 are up. There is a new international school - intensive English classes for international students. They are trying to create a Grand Junction Sports Authority--collaborating with Palisade, Fruita, and Grand Junction to bring more sporting events into community. CMU took over running the Rim Rock Marathon, participation was up 25% to 200 people.  CMU will host the Western Collegiate Alpine Ski Championships at Powderhorn in the spring of 2015.


Travelodge – Angelica Garcia:  New ownership and newly branded with Travelodge in July 2014. The exterior was painted and they will get new signage and open a restaurant in the lounge area in the next few weeks. In 2015 they will have a complete renovation with new carpets, beds, furniture, and bathrooms. Then they will focus on the ballroom renovation. They are looking forward to 2015 with the new name and being a Wyndham property member!


Downtown Development Authority – Aaron Hoffman:  Their offices moved to 437 Colorado Ave. They have a new website with an events guide to downtown. They now offer gift cards which replaced the paper certificate and are accepted at more than 100 locations. Gift certificate/card sales have doubled in 2014 over 2013. They have new look and new logo, as well as a new downtown guide which combined several publications into a new 56-page guidebook. A new guidebook will be printed in 2015. Events have been changed, specifically the Art & Music Festival and the Farmers Market, where criteria has changed drastically so it can be a true local farmers market. In 2015, they are looking to make even more improvement to events and plan to introduce a smartphone app.


Rocky Mountain Gun Club – Shad Knowlton:  Opened May 9, 2014 and had their 6 month anniversary in November. It is a 46,000 S.F. facility on E 1/4 and 31 Rd. with 6,000 S.F. retail space. They have a 35 ft. open firing range for law enforcement scenarios. All state of the art air filtration which means very minimal lead contamination! They offer a rental program for guns. In 2015, they will have a new training program and education with safety being the focus.


Super 8 Hotel – Rob Feeley:  Rob’s family is celebrating 45 years in the lodging business, of which 30 years has been in Grand Junction. Sales are on par this year. For renovations in 2015 they will spend $500,000 in Grand Junction and $250,000 in Fruita. He believes the Horizon Drive Improvement District will really make an impact and they are working closely with them and are excited about the potential of the beautification.


Suncrest Orchard Alpacas – Mike McDermott:  They have been a part of agri-tourism for almost 12 years now. Tours of the farm and textile mill are up 33%, 375 to 400 people per month are coming for tours. They have gone from 3 days per week, to 6 days per week offering tours. They have utilized 3 interns through CMU this year. The bus tour population has increased also. The farm and mill tour is a nice family experience for all ages!

Ute Water and JR's Carriage Service – Joe Burtard:

Ute Water – December 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the first residential tap. They have seen large growth and tap sales are up above budget. They held the 21st annual children's water festival where 2,500 5th graders came to learn about water at CMU for 2 days, they had over 350 volunteer presenters. This has been a good water year and the snowpack helped us recover from the 3-year drought. They received a 10 year director award for forward thinking and only 80 out of 50,000 receive this recognition. In 2015, they will be introducing a hydropower plant which is a very big deal!

JR’s Carriages – They are primarily focused on wine tours, which are up 15%. They were able to give back $10,000 to charities in 2014. They will be providing free horse-drawn carriage rides in downtown Grand Junction each weekend in the holiday season. So come down and join them!


Days Inn – Sarah Urema:  Days Inn (formerly Best Western Sandman) - Host many groups such as Porsche Club, Sturgis League Bikers and the Round and Square Dance Association. They are collecting donations of towels, sheets and blankets for Roice-Hurst Humane Society. New this year is a healthier breakfast and they have a membership so they can offer free Crossroads Fitness access for guests. They have a Pet Park and Pet rooms available for which they won a GoFido.com award. Business is up at the end of 2014 and looking good to 2015. In 2015 they plan to paint the exterior and do bedding upgrades.

Mesa Inn – Sarah Urema:  They are the Colorado Pro Rodeo Association host hotel in 2015.


Colorado National Monument Association – Marilee Langfitt:  They are a non-profit association that supports the CNM. They are happy to report nearly 500, 000 visitors, 9,000 local children participated in educational programs. The association promotes the Monument as one of the primary draws to the Grand Valley. They are amazed by the number of internationals who make their way up to the Monument and they send a thank you to everyone for telling people about the CNM! There will be a big project on the East End with the announcement regarding it coming in the next month. They believe it will attract more tourists so stay tuned!


Two Rivers Convention Center and The Avalon Theatre – Stuart Taylor:  Welcome to the newly renovated and expanded Avalon!! Grand opening was in September with 2 weeks of non-stop events. They had about 15 events during those 2 weeks and then went right into concerts in October. Look for some great comedians coming up. They installed a brand new $55,000 2K projector which is an upgrade from an HD projector. Please remember “dinner and a movie” each Tuesday. The Avalon now seats just fewer than 1100 people. All life safety requirements are met and ADA requirements are also met. The theater has one of the first hearing loops in Western Colorado so they can welcome hearing impaired people to the movies and to the facility for other events!

Two Rivers invested roughly $100,000 for lighting upgrades which is about finished (look for chandeliers) and this should lower the lighting bill significantly.


Glacier Ice Arena – Robbie Koos:  (Notes sent via email and read by Kristin Winn) The Glacier reopened 1 year ago. The grand reopening was met with warmth from the community. They offer learn to skate programs, leagues, and numerous other ice-related activities and public skating. They are open year-round and noted that few ice rinks operate all year. They have experienced some reduction in rink usage, specifically in men's hockey league, although increasing marketing efforts are looking positive. The new Coyotes traveling youth hockey league, coming summer/fall of 2015, is looking promising and the youth leagues are on the rise. They have a very positive outlook with the established base of skaters.


Colorado National Monument – Karla Tanner: (Notes sent via email, not presented at meeting)

2014: A big THANK YOU to hotel front desk staff from the monument. MANY visitors have stopped by the visitor center information desk throughout the tourism season to say they had never heard about the monument until someone from the hotel where they were staying told them they just couldn't miss coming up to see us before leaving the area. The visitors came and were thrilled with their experiences.

Two accomplishments that the monument celebrated this year were repaving road surfaces in the west tunnels and converting the first 1/4 mile of the Alcove Nature Trail from a "hiking" trail to an accessible trail suitable for people who use wheeled assistance devices such as wheelchairs and wheeled walkers. Both projects were funded by recreation fee dollars (entrance fee money).

Campground use has increased since we started accepting reservations last summer.

Karla sent the Economic Benefit press release from July also.

2015: The National Park Service will launch our Centennial campaign next spring in anticipation of our 100th anniversary in 2016. The goal for the centennial is "to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates."

Entrance fees to all national parks, including Colorado National Monument, will be waived on the following dates in 2015:

Jan. 19 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Feb. 14-16 - President's Day Weekend

Apr. 18-19 - National Park's Week opening weekend

Aug. 25 - Founders Day for the National Park Service

Sept. 26 - Public Lands Day

Nov. 11 - Veterans Day