Question for most parents of young kids:
How many times have you planned a “civilized” family get-away HOPING for the best in dining, comfort and culture…and, in the end, to have hopes crushed because no one else cared for the same experience, or valued the same civilized take-away from the vacation?
Maybe I’m naive. I suppose to expect the same WOW from a toddler, or even a tween, following a museum visit that I might experience…should just not be expected. But, although I know better than to expect too much from my kids in fine dining outings or cultural encounters, I keep trying to expose them to offerings that just MIGHT produce the same appreciation that I garner from these unique opportunities. With that said, I presented the idea of an artistic weekend to my family…and they jumped (not as enthusiastically as I had hoped, but they took the bite!).
As a family, we have visited many of Denver’s cultural hubs (Museum of Nature & Science, Butterfly Pavilion, Art & Space Museum, Zoo, Children’s Museum); I can honestly walk the facilities in my sleep, at this point. The kids love the interactive nature of most of these institutions and long to return after we’ve gone. But, an art museum – don’t touch, don’t talk, don’t eat, don’t run – is a different type of museum for these young people. It requires a whole different persona…and, as most of us know, a 3 year old does not have many personas to choose from. With that NOT in mind, we booked a stay at Denver’s ART hotel and planned a visit to the Denver Art Museum (located next door).
The ART hotel has been recognized by many travel associations and leisure industry publications with awards and accolades that describe the ART as “an acclaimed hotel and premier Denver destination; from service that is truly unparalleled and facilities including art, architecture and design that are second to none”. But, in approaching the hotel, I felt at ease with the modern and playful surroundings. This is not a stuffy, DO NOT TOUCH, space…but, a rainbow of colorful lights and art that speaks to the kid in all of us! As our valet welcomed us, he made sure to point out some fun features that the kids actually appreciated! Blinking lights of Threshold (22,000 to be exact), elevated golden meteorites (not sure how else to explain it) and animated elevator video (William Wegman’s Up Down Up dogs generated laughter each time we rode!) brought us into this new-found masterpiece of a hotel.
In the lobby (4th floor – with views of the city in every direction), the kids were preoccupied with playful statues (including Otter, a molten bronze horse) and a candy bar that offered a variety of colorful treats and “soups” (the vivid grouping of Eight Soups hangs above the confectionery). I was quickly checked-in and we were generously escorted to our rooms: 1 king + 2 queen, adjoining rooms for additional space and comfort. The girls FREAKED when they saw their weekend duds. Along with two plush, oversized beds, each child had their own tee-pee (beautifully constructed out of fabric and wood), an art set with mini-easel and paints, edible painter’s palettes and ART notebooks. We were all blown away. To get them out of their room was going to require a creative tactic, in and of itself.
My husband and I were also quite impressed with our surroundings: contemporary design, ample space, floor-to-ceiling views (ours was of the Rocky Mountains and neighboring Denver Art Museum – a sight) and an illy espresso machine (our fav!). Our taste buds were also generously blessed with some beautiful desserts that had been delivered from FIRE Restaurant, another work of art in the hotel. It was only an introduction to what we would be offered in food from this outstanding establishment.
Following our late arrival to the ART, and a few cocktails on the impressive terrace (complete with heat lamps and a fire pit), our family fell into bed in preparation for a big art day at the Denver Art Museum…
We awoke to a beautiful, crisp morning in the city and found such pleasure in looking towards the mountains and, not being surrounded by them. During the Spring, our wonderful mountains often bring snow well into May. Fortunately, Denver dives right into Spring and delivers warmer temps and a myriad of flowering trees and plants right on schedule. It feels like being a million miles away…if just for a weekend. After an ample amount of room-service breakfast was consumed, we slowly meandered over to the big art museum next door, and enjoyed the art-filled walk there. The statues found outside of the ART hotel and the massive Denver Art Museum are calling for kids to explore and question each piece. From the larger-than-life-size pair of the Scottish Angus Cow and Calf to the enormous Big Sweep, both outside of the hotel and museum, the children were captivated and moved to explore. What a great beginning to our cultural visit!
And, the museum did not disappoint! There are many installations – actually, designated play rooms with multiple installations – that call to children to touch and discover the contents. Between beautiful exhibits, where the rules of DO NOT _______, exist, there are appropriate areas where children can learn and play. And, we found that, in honoring their time to play and discover, first, we could then get them to quietly view and enjoy the more civilized art exhibits. What a win for all of us!
We left the museum after hours – yes, HOURS! – of discovery. The kids were tired and my husband and I were hungry…and thirsty. FIRE called. After getting the kids settled, we dressed for an epicurean discovery. The terrace and bar were quite full, as the hotel welcomes regular guests NOT staying on-property. Many local business events and personnel flock to the ART for their unique surroundings and ample space. I found it quite fabulous to be part of a unique crowd, many of whom truly enjoy the artistic flare of the hotel’s 45+ pieces of art.
*A collection of the art and detailed description of each piece is offered in a small booklet in the lobby.
Following a few amazing craft cocktails, we sauntered to our dinner seats and were pleasantly surprised by the selection of food and wine that was presented to us. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available; we, however, went for the over-the-top choices in meat, cheese and gluten! We had to, as the kitchen strives to source from local and sustainable farms, try some of the more decadent options. Prosciutto and burrata, rosemary lamb chops, mushroom risotto and creme brulee were delivered with perfect timing and prepared at the perfect temperature. Our server mentioned that the kitchen, also, experiences seasonality…as most Colorado mountain towns do. But, their seasonality centers on downtown events and business prospects. Interesting, as we couldn’t have felt more secluded from the Denver business district. It’s, yet, another special piece of the ART hotel: it whisks you away from all that is expected and routine to a place of surrealism and peace. Perfection, all around.
Upon our departure, the kids inquired about our return. It happened! They came, they experienced, they “got cultured” and they asked for more! I was surprised, I was excited and I was eager to answer their question. Return, we would. We will! As we said good-bye to our Ocean View (for Denver), we felt culturally rejuvenated and mentally pampered. There is a quote that the ART mentions in one of their marketing pieces that truly defines a stay within its walls…
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton
I think our family was able to do this, together, at the ART. What a pleasure!
Hospitality by the ART, a hotel
Clothing by Moque
MOQUE is Modern and Unique. Whimsical in its Bright Colors, playful in its Silhouettes. The Collection fuses chic and fun fabric for everyday children’s wear. Unique colors and textures interwoven into a cheerful design. MOQUE’s approach is sophistication, an ebullient character in every child’s heart.