During the four years I spent as a frequent flier based in Denver, I used to joke that the Denver International Airport was in Kansas and its long-term parking in Oklahoma; it is spread out on a seemingly endless plot of land that to me felt more like Colorado’s Eastern Plains than the city.
And stuck there overnight? Forget any upscale or luxury accommodations. The only hotels even close were of the economy and midscale variety. (And getting to those requires a trip down Pena Boulevard, which during a bad snowstorm can be among the most impassable stretches of highway in Denver.)
Now, after nearly two decades of planning and development, the Westin Denver International Airport Hotel has opened, and Denver has joined a growing list of major airports that are adding or upgrading their on-site hotel and meeting options.
Designed to represent the wings of a bird, the sweeping glass structure offers a variety of room and suite styles, an indoor swimming pool and fitness center, multiple dining and drinking venues, a 37,500 square foot conference center, the latest in technology (including front-desk-free check-in) and a host of other amenities for travelers who are looking for a little more pampering than you can find at an airport bar or club lounge during a lengthy layover.
All 519 rooms have soundproofed floor-to-ceiling windows that offer panoramic views of downtown, the Rocky Mountains and the airfield of the nation’s fifth-busiest airport. They are also outfitted with latest in luxury amenities, such as Heavenly Beds, down comforters, five-fixture baths that include rainforest showerheads, robes and slippers. Rates range from $189 to $499 a night.
DIA is one of the nation’s newer major airports, having replaced the closer-in Stapleton International Airport 20 years ago. And while it has been repeatedly ranked high by travel publications, the lack of an on-site hotel and the 25-mile distance from the city center have long been drawbacks.
An on-site hotel was always in the airport’s long-term plan, but the project didn’t really get underway until about four years ago.
The Westin is part of DIA’s new $600 million hotel and transit center, which includes an outdoor plaza and light-rail station that next month will begin offering service to downtown, eliminating the need for a long, expensive cab ride along Denver’s often highly congested highways.
With the completion of the Westin and the modern light-rail transit option, DIA can now truly call itself a world-class airport. Even if it still feels like it’s in Kansas.