We spent about a year narrowing down the possibilities and settled on the Rocky Mountains before narrowing it down to Breckenridge. Breckenridge won out over Estes Park and Boulder because of the available accommodations and the variety of activities available. Once we had it narrowed down to Breckenridge we drove out to visit a few resorts and see what options we would have. The choice became very easy after seeing Mountain Thunder Lodge. Although we have worked very hard to perfect Teton Con, there are still aspects about it that we wish we could change. The resort is about 7 blocks from downtown, which isn’t a bad walk, but a bit too far to be perfect. The gaming room is in the basement with no windows, which has always been a letdown. The condos are very nice and clean, but I don’t think anyone would describe them as luxury. Lastly, travelling to Jackson WY is very expensive, tickets into the airport start at about $600 each and driving is a tough option since it is quite remote.
Mountain Thunder Lodge fixes many of these problems. It is located just one block off of main street, making it much more accessible. The Breck Connect Gondola is even closer (just across the street) giving guests quick access to the mountain as well. The event space is just off the lobby on the main floor and not only has large windows, but a small patio area as well. The event space is gorgeous, easily as nice as the space at Teton Con. The townhomes themselves, left the staff speechless. They are simply gorgeous. A huge selling point is that each bedroom has their own bathroom. The entire resort is very compact, making the townhomes close to the gaming area, cutting down on wasted travel time.
The resort switch was a no brainer, but more importantly we are able to offer the trip at a lower price point. There are lots of reasons the price is lower, but the three biggest are: 1) We have chosen to not include park tours, 2) The housing options are better suited to our needs so we will be able to fill every room (something we choose not to do at Teton Con), and 3) Breckenridge is simply a slightly more affordable destination than Jackson. A hidden benefit is also the price of travelling to Breckenridge. Guests will most likely fly into Denver airport, which is substantially cheaper than Jackson, with tickets being literally $300 less per person. The average couple travelling to Breckenridge will spend about $1,000 less, which is a huge win for everyone. For those guests that are driving, Breckenridge is typically better located for driving, making that an option for many more guests.
We did have to give up two things with the switch. First, Breckenridge is about 2 hours from the closest major airport, so guests will have to take a shuttle from Denver or rent a car. However, there are very few flights direct to Jackson, unlike Denver, so most guests will just be trading another flight for a shuttle ride. The shuttle ride will offset the cheaper flights, but it will give the option to those that prefer to rent a car. We hope to secure a group rate on the shuttle service, but the retail rate is $60 per person, one way. Most drivers will find that Breckenridge is typically an easier drive than Jackson, making that option more appealing. Second, there is no Yellowstone or Grand Teton parks nearby. Rocky Mountain National Park is about two hours away for those that want to get inside the park. However, the Rockies are a much larger range than the Tetons and the area around Breckenridge is no less amazing than the park proper. We looked at guests staying in Estes Park, which is just outside the park and decided that ultimately the entire experience would be better from Breckenridge. Once we got to Breckenridge and saw all there was around the town, we had no concern that the guests would get bored with the area. Hikers, shoppers, gamers or just about anyone will have no problems with the area, it’s fantastic.
There is a ton more that went into the decision, but going through it all would be a waste of everyone’s time. Ultimately, we hope to develop three locations, that we alternate through, but our focus for the next two to three years is perfecting Rocky Mountain Gaming Vacation at Breckenridge. If/when we return to the Jackson, WY area we are leaving all options open and not committing to any changes or guarantees.