DESTINATION DESTRESS

By M. Pfeiffer

If your flight plans begin originate out of Denver International Airport, consider a stay (think “precation” as in preceding your vacay) at the luxurious new Westin Hotel, on the south end of the DIA terminal. Literally steps away from the airport check-in counters, the Westin offers more than a dreamy bed; the location frees you from the worries of encountering traffic on the way to the airport and expands your options when selecting flight departure times. Gone are the days of your vacation being book-ended with anxiety.

.

With relatives in Colorado and Nebraska, my family and I have negotiated the concourses of DIA uncountable times. Even with our nearly local knowledge of the airport, there is no denying the frustration generated when timing the drive to the airport. Traffic jams on I-70 and weather delays are unpredictable. Returning the rental car is a time-consuming ordeal and the shuttle ride from the outlying car rental back to the airport a test of patience. Baggage check-in and security clearance…well, that goes with the territory.

We have tried staying at close-in hotels to DIA in the past, before and after our six-hour farm-to-terminal journey (returning to DIA from Nebraska.) But the experiences have been less than satisfying mostly because of the inconvenient shuttle system. We’ve queue up in the lobby as much as 90 minutes early to catch the predictably irregular on-the-hour-and-the-half-hour shuttle service to the terminal.

This Christmas holiday, we booked the Westin DIA for our postcation return to LA. We had watched construction progress on the hotel for more than a year and planned our arrival as close as possible to the 3 p.m. check-in to take full advantage of the hotel’s facilities. The first sign of stress relief was when the valet unloaded our baggage at the hotel door. One in our party then headed to return the rental car eliminating all four of us hauling our bags on a shuttle back from the far flung rental corral.

Controlled keycard access (alternatively, Apple Watch access eliminating the stress of having to carry a room keycard on your person) to the Westin sixth floor ensures guest-only use of the hotel amenities. The crisp, white-on-white décor suggested we had boarded a futuristic starship far and away from real-world demands, while the distinctive Westin White Tea scent comforted us with its calming, spa-like influence. The men in our group headed directly to the fitness center to work off travel tension on the plentiful machines and free weights. Bonus amenity: chilled towels to cool down when working up a sweat. Plus, the view from the gym overlooks the spectacular DIA architectural canopy. Note to self: next visit, pack a swimsuit because the hotel pool is out of this world!

The in-Westin restaurant Grill and Vine rewrites what you’ve come to expect in travel dining close to the runway. Considerably better than other airport options, the Colorado-centric menu features healthy options and satisfied even the picky vegan in our group. (Insider tip:  Make a reservation! They fill up quickly.) As a backup plan, 24-hour room service available or available in the lobby: a bar bites menu, paired with seasonal cocktails and craft brews on tap.

Mother Nature added her 2 cents to the nation’s 2015 holiday travel plans. Minutes before scheduled take-off, the airline announced the cancellation of the Red Eye to Pittsburg. One of our group booked on that flight had already checked his bags and cleared the security check before the announcement. After rebooking a flight for later that day, he returned to his Westin room for another six hours’ rest. Until the Westin opened, travelers would have spent that time pacing the airport concourse rather than risk cabbing it to a hotel for an abbreviated catnap. 

Three in our group were headed west at daybreak, unaffected by weather. The seamless transfer of our bags from our hotel room to check-in at the airline counter took no more than 10 minutes. The walkway is easily navigable with roller bags (no ramps or steps), and the hotel bellman offered to do the heavy lifting, something to keep in mind when traveling with unwieldly amounts of luggage.

My only concern is that on my next trip through Denver is that word will get out and the hotel’s 519 guestrooms including 35 suites will be booked…a new stressor to add to my life.

Featured Archive Contact Us