Published: Dec. 6, 2021

Artist rendering of new on-campus conference center hotel

The Little Nell Hotel Group, the hospitality division of Aspen Skiing Company, and CU Boulder have entered into an agreement to develop a Limelight-branded conference center and hotel at the northwest corner of campus that will be a destination for high-profile events and experiences linking the university, research, business and nonprofit communities in Boulder. 

The Limelight Hotel Boulder, which will offer approximately 250 rooms and contain 25,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, as well as associated parking, is tentatively slated to break ground in the fall of 2022 and open in the spring of 2025. The facilities will be designed using beautiful, high quality, sustainable and timeless materials that reflect and celebrate Boulder’s values. A key planned design feature is a publicly accessible plaza that will create a gathering space for students, neighbors and visitors. 

“We’re looking forward to designing a transformative destination, of which many stakeholders can be proud, including the University of Colorado, the city of Boulder, the Boulder community and our organization,” said Alinio Azevedo, managing director and chief operating officer of The Little Nell Hotel Group. “We have a shared passion across all parties to establish the Limelight as a focal point within the community, and are exploring innovative design and construction methods in order to deliver a building that will withstand the test of time.”

The CU Board of Regents in 2019 authorized CU Boulder to enter into a ground lease with a developer for the 2.95-acre site at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Broadway. The project reflects a unique years-long partnership between the city of Boulder and the university to bring a conference center of this size to the community. The first of its size in Boulder County, the new facility will create a venue capable of hosting events of all sizes, from prominent academic and research conferences to small community gatherings. 

“We are excited for the ways this new facility will be a venue for showcasing all of the exciting innovation and leadership occurring on our campus and in our community,” CU Boulder Chief Operating Officer Pat O’Rourke said. “It will truly benefit so many, from our students and their families to our faculty researchers to local businesses and nonprofits in the community that have been yearning for an event space like this. And we’re excited for the experience and industry leadership that Limelight Hotels bring to our community with this project.” 

Artist rendering of new on-campus conference center hotel

The Little Nell Hotel Group will oversee the design, financing and operation of the conference center and hotel. 

Through a 2016 memorandum of understanding with the city, the university agreed to locate the conference center and hotel in the Grandview area of campus and build a larger ballroom to meet the needs of the broader community, as prioritized by the city and the university since the mid-2000s. The Grandview location was desired by the city to help jumpstart revitalization of University Hill and for its proximity to downtown. 

As part of the agreement, the city agreed to dedicate a portion of the accommodation taxes generated by room occupancy to help fund the use of the conference center by community groups and nonprofits.

“We are extremely excited about the conference center and hotel on the CU Boulder campus,” said Charlene Hoffman, chief executive officer of the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This is not only the breakthrough that the University Hill business district has been looking for, but also a big stimulus and very important for the entire Hill neighborhood and Boulder community. Having a conference center in town ensures local businesses and community organizations have a place right here in town to host major events, and that Boulder can compete with other cities for major meetings and conferences. We look forward to our partnership with Limelight and CU Boulder to ensure its success.” 

The Limelight Hotel Boulder is sure to create new synergies in an ongoing revitalization of the University Hill business district, which includes CU Boulder’s Renée Crown Wellness Institute that will move into newly renovated space at 1135 Broadway in 2022, as well as The Hill Hotel being privately developed across Broadway from campus. 

“The vision for an anchoring conference center and hotel in Boulder is coming to fruition,” said Boulder City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde. “This facility is very important to the university and also to our community’s vibrancy as a place for thought, gathering and collaboration, and anchors Boulder as the place where our state’s flagship university thrives. The city of Boulder congratulates our partners at CU and looks forward to the project’s progress.”

Limelight Hotels’ reputation for being “homebase in the places you want to explore” sets the tone for the conference center and hotel to become a hub for travelers from all over the world. Through the company’s emphasis on access, belonging and impact, the Limelight is aligned with the active pulse of recreation and culture in each destination. Limelight’s adventure concierges are informed and approachable, openly sharing local knowledge with guests.

And all The Little Nell Hotel Group projects include a focus on community engagement through supporting local initiatives and businesses, as well as through their employee-managed Caring for Community Fund.

About the Little Nell Hotel Group

The Little Nell Hotel Group is a privately held hotel investment and management platform owned by Aspen Skiing Company. Its portfolio of owned and operated hotels and residences currently consists of The Little Nell, Aspen’s only Five-Star, Five-Diamond, ski-in/ski-out hotel, and its affiliated Residences at The Little Nell, both located at the base of Aspen Mountain; and the upscale Limelight Hotel Aspen and Limelight Hotel Snowmass in Colorado, as well as the Limelight Hotel Ketchum near Sun Valley in Idaho. The Company also owns and operates two mountain clubs (the ASPENX Mountain Club and the Snowmass Mountain Club).

About Limelight Hotels

Limelight Hotels are upscale contemporary properties set in the heart of authentic mountain communities. The Limelight Aspen, in downtown Aspen, Colorado, is just steps from the slopes and the downtown core, and will reopen  in December 2021 with a top-to-bottom renovation. The Limelight Ketchum is situated in Ketchum, Idaho, near the base of Sun Valley’s famed ski area, Bald Mountain, and walking distance to the town’s shops and restaurants. The Limelight Snowmass in Snowmass, Colorado, completed in December 2018, is a ski-in/ski-out property, and is located adjacent to the Elk Camp Gondola with access to 3,362 acres of terrain. All Limelight properties are designed around the communities and activities where they are located.