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 September 1, 1999

Omni ups meeting price ante

BROOMFIELD — When a new resort hotel costs more than $80 million, it seems a safe bet that anyone wanting to use the conference and meetings facilities will have to pay well for the privilege.

At first glance that certainly appears to be the case with the Omni Interlocken Resort Hotel, which opened just two months ago. This massive resort, which dominates the landscape just off U.S. Highway 36 at Broomfield, offers a vast 34,000 square feet of functions space.

Full-day conference and meeting room rentals start at $450 (for 624 square feet, ergonomic chairs and whiteboard) and go all the way up to $6,800 for the 9,120-square-foot Interlocken Ballroom.

Such rates seem high by comparison with the rest of Boulder County and leave other upscale hotels such as the Regal Harvest, the Boulderado and Longmont’s Raintree Plaza looking almost budget by comparison.

Ernst Wofinger, Omni’s director of sales and marketing, is quick to point out, however, that actual charges depend on a variety of factors. He says rental rates for the Omni’s conference facilities can start from as little as … zero.

That might be the case, for example, if a large group was staying at the hotel. According to Wolfinger, prices will vary depending on the number of people involved, how much space they are using, the amount of in-house food and beverages required, whether it’s a mid-week or weekend booking and even the time of year.

“The charges all depend on the circumstances. There are no set rules,” Wolfinger says. “We look at each case in the context of the overall value of the business to the Omni Interlocken Resort.”

The schedule of rates is more likely to apply to casual, day rentals by groups not staying in the 390-room hotel, which Wolfinger estimates accounts for only about 20 percent of all conference facility bookings.

Whatever the final charge, Wolfinger argues the customer still is getting a great deal. He says the Omni’s two sub-dividable ballrooms, seven conference rooms and boardroom have access to a magnificent pre-function area with spectacular views.

In addition, the Omni is “wired” with all the latest in communications equipment, while conference facilities include the area’s most complete state-of-the-art audio and video services, complemented by a full-service business center.

This month, the Omni also is opening a portion of its new $25 million 27-hole championship golf course — complete with driving range, putting greens and a chipping area. The hotel offers a full-service health club and spa, heated swimming pool and miles of running and biking trails throughout the Interlocken business park.

And for those still claiming the Omni’s rates are way too pricey for the region, Wolfinger happily points to the fact that about 35 meetings were booked during August — only the second month after opening.

Wolfinger believes the rates for conference facilities are very comparable to downtown Denver and some of the better establishments in places like Colorado Springs and Keystone. However, he does not see anything to compare in Boulder County.

The Regal Harvest House offers just over 18,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, the jewels in the crown being the 5,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom and a slightly larger outdoor pavilion, which can accommodate receptions for 500 people.

Catering manager Tami Blustein says the ballroom rents for $1,500 per day ($1,000 after 5 p.m.), the Century and Millennium Rooms, each about 2,000 square feet, cost $500 per day while smaller rooms go down to around $200.

Again, prices can be negotiated. As with the Omni, the Regal Harvest House factors in elements such as the number of people staying, what days, the time of year and how much food and drink conference attendees will consume.

Director of Sales and Marketing David Rayment echoes the Omni philosophy when he says the hotel caters for group business and the meeting space helps sell the 270 guest rooms.

The Raintree Plaza, with close to 300 rooms, takes a similar approach, with flexible charges for hiring meeting space depending on all the circumstances, according to Catering Coach Karen Warhola-Golas.

Only the Raintree comes close to matching the scale of the Omni meeting facilities. Right across the street from the Longmont hotel stands its 30,000-square-foot conference center, which boasts 21 well-equipped meeting rooms, capped off with an Omni-sized ballroom.

Warhola-Golas says walk-in rental prices range from around $95 per day for small groups, $450 per day for a 200-seat auditorium, to $1,600 daily for the ballroom — one quarter the price of the Omni equivalent.

The Boulderado, a historical landmark in downtown Boulder, with 160 guest rooms, also offers meeting space, but its conference areas total only around 10,000 square feet.

Public Relations Director Mary Ann Mahoney says this includes a 2,900-square-foot ballroom, which costs $750 per day, and can be divided into three separate rooms at proportional rates. There are also five smaller meeting rooms starting at $125 per day.

Mahoney says use of conference facilities includes free access to the hotel’s business center, which provides such equipment as a computer, printer, copier and fax machine.

According to Mahoney, it costs the same for conference and meetings facilities whether the users are staying in-house or not. Applying the same criteria as the other hotels, however, is likely to earn a discounted guest room rate instead.

BROOMFIELD — When a new resort hotel costs more than $80 million, it seems a safe bet that anyone wanting to use the conference and meetings facilities will have to pay well for the privilege.

At first glance that certainly appears to be the case with the Omni Interlocken Resort Hotel, which opened just two months ago. This massive resort, which dominates the landscape just off U.S. Highway 36 at Broomfield, offers a vast 34,000 square feet of functions space.

Full-day conference and meeting room rentals start at $450 (for 624 square…

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