There’s a major expansion underway at Denver International Airport, and the latest milestone is the new Westin Hotel, which opens on Nov. 19. The 519-room hotel is connected to the terminal, and it overlooks a train platform that will open next spring, when RTD’s commuter rail service from Union Station begins.
Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner spoke with DIA’s CEO, Kim Day, abut the hotel. Click on the audio link above to hear the conversation. Edited highlights are below.
On who will stay at the hotel:
“First off, Westin is doing a fabulous job selling [business] conferences. We have 26,000 square feet of conference space. Then there are the passengers who are taking an early flight out. They’ve come down from the mountains, they’ve got a 6 a.m. flight. They’ll stay here and then go get to their flight. Or, passengers who arrive late at night and don’t want to drive up to the mountains, so they’ll be staying here.”
On the public plaza hosting events programmed by Denver’s Arts & Venues agency:
“We copied this idea from Munich. The first time I went to Munich airport, in the plaza, they were holding the national sand volleyball championship. And they had bleachers set up, and they had people who had taken the train to the airport to watch this event. We’re not going to be holding sand volleyball [tournaments], but we have visions of doing exhibits, concerts, and maybe even some craft fairs…. It’s a great gathering space, and with the train connection, it makes it very accessible for a lot of people.”
On criticism that the hotel blocks the view of DIA’s iconic terminal:
“I think we did a great job of being complementary to the terminal. In fact, you’ll notice that when you walk to the other side of the plaza, you’ll see that we reflect the ‘tent’ in [glass] wall of the hotel. It’s beautiful. The top of the hotel does a swale, so you can see the tent through there. And quite honestly this airport is thriving, and we’re going to grow. This is the first piece of growth, and I think people are concerned about the change. They’ve been used to seeing this tent in isolation, but we’re going to double in size. There are lots of other elements that are going to be cropping up around the tent, but it’s this first one that has people wondering what we’re doing.”
[Ryan interjects] "When I drove up to meet you today, and I approached the terminal, I couldn't see the roof. It's that simple. The hotel blocks it."
"From certain places you can't. Fom a lot of places you can. It's just an individual place you are along the route, it's blocked or not blocked."
On what DIA will look like in 10 years:
“You’re going to see us expanding in terms of gates, you’re going to see us have more international passengers and many more international connections, if we can make that happen. This economic engine is just being stoked. Today we generate $26 billion annually into the economy. You’re going to see that just escalate as this airport really grows into what it was always envisioned to be.”