Glenwood Springs visitor center now a lot more central

Downtown move a partnership between chamber, CMC

Marianne Virgili and Doug Stewart in the new Glenwood Springs Chamber/CMC visitor's center in Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Glenwood Springs Chamber president Marianne Virgili and CMC director of marketing Doug Stewart admire the new visitors welcome center at 802 Grand Ave. in Glenwood Springs.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association Welcome Center just got a lot closer to the visitors it aims to serve, and just in time for the Memorial Day launch to the summer tourist season.

The chamber, in partnership with Colorado Mountain College, officially opened the new Welcome Center Friday in the street-front space opposite U.S. Bank in the new CMC Central Services Building at 802 Grand Ave.

“We’ve had discussions going back probably 25 years about being in the heart of downtown Glenwood Springs,” Chamber President and CEO Marianne Virgili said.

“When CMC purchased the building here, we said we would like to be a part of it if they had room,” she said. “It’s a great continuation of a partnership we have had with CMC for 40 years.”

The Welcome Center will serve as an information center for the chamber in its efforts to provide information to Glenwood Springs visitors and walk-by traffic, and for CMC as it tries to attract new students.

“Many thousands of visitors each year will not only learn about Glenwood Springs, but will learn about how Colorado Mountain College offers a blend of mountain life and mountain learning,” according to a statement from CMC.

“The chamber already had about 100,000 visitors per year at the old visitors center, and we anticipate that number will grow at this location,” said Doug Stewart, CMC director of marketing and communication.

“If we can share our message at the same time, it’s a way to get families thinking about extending their experience by considering CMC,” Stewart said.

On June 4, the chamber’s administrative offices will also officially make the move to the new location from the old A-frame structure at 11th and Grand that has served as the Chamber’s home since 1971.

What will become of that site, which is owned by Garfield County and is leased to the city of Glenwood Springs, has not been determined.

The new Welcome Center hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and on summer weekends from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday.

Inside the more visible, visitor-friendly location, a main reception desk gives visitors a personal greeting from chamber staff. It also serves to direct those looking for the CMC offices on the second and third floor of the building.

The center includes state-of-the art informational technology, such as computers and iPads for visitors to search and book reservations, and digital slide presentations on large screens featuring the area’s attractions. There are also the usual kiosks providing brochures about the community, attractions, restaurants and merchants.

At the reception desk, there’s a built-in Google Maps screen for visitors to map out their day’s activities.

A video highlighting CMC’s programs plays continuously, offering information for prospective students.

And there’s even a Glenwood Springs history wall, which includes a timeline and a video created by the Frontier Historical Society.

The timeline includes information about the train and the railroad. There’s even a replica of the model train passenger car that used to grace a monument in Glenwood Canyon before the four-lane Interstate 70 was built.

Stewart remembers riding the original California Zephyr passenger train as a kid, as it passed through scenic Glenwood Canyon and into Glenwood Springs.

“It’s a nod to the Zephyr and the railroading history of the area,” Stewart said.

A series of photos also shows people having fun doing all there is to do in the area. And, several local merchants have donated sports equipment to keep on display, such as a kayak, and old cruiser bike, a ski lift chair that people can sit in, a backpack and a zipline with a mannequin taking a ride.

Soon to open in the open back area of the Welcome Center will be the new CMC Art Share gallery, featuring exhibits from various artists. It will replace the former gallery that fronted Grand Avenue in the former CMC building at Ninth and Grand.

Although the gallery will have a smaller floor area than the old location, it will actually have more usable wall space, Stewart said.

“With the visitor center, it will also get a lot more traffic,” he said. “And the gallery will have access to the pedestrian plaza out the back door where the new library is being built. That opens up a lot of options for use of the space.”

The windows gracing Grand Avenue on the south end of the building will be used to promote gallery shows, serving as another way to attract people to come inside, Stewart said.

The new gallery is expected to have its first official exhibit in July.