We arrived in the Mile High City…Denver, Colorado for a short, two day trip, to find the town excited about that evening’s Garth Brooks concert. It was tempting to go…but, we decided to stick with our plan. We were in Denver for a short weekend to find out where to play tennis, while in the mile high city!
We had challenges after we arrived in Colorado. We had a great, comfortable morning flight with United Airlines, direct from Newark. When we arrived, we took the rental car shuttle to our rental car facility. We mainly rent from Hertz (travel tip: gold and above status, your assigned car will be waiting for you at the rental car center). This trip, we selected Fox Car Rental. We’ve had excellent experiences with Fox Car Rental in the past; however, our challenge began when we were dropped off by the car rental shuttle. We had pre-booked our rental in February 2019, through their website. When we arrived, we waited in a long queue for our turn. As my husband was signing on the signature pad, for the car rental, his eagle eye noticed that the rental contract had a different last name (travel tip: always check your contracts. Many car rentals have everything on the computer, with less paperwork, so when signing on the signature pad, check the name!). The person helping us did not catch that she had opened up the incorrect reservation. We immediately requested that the rental be voided and that they find our reservation. We did not get the Hertz Presidential treatment, actually the opposite. To our dismay, the Fox Rental Car agent was not helpful in finding our contract, although we had a confirmation number. We were frustrated because we realized that the agent was not going to give us a car, based on our original reservation. The best decision we made was to leave the facility. After an hour of dealing with the car rental, we ordered a rideshare service (Lyft), who brought us to our desired destination within minutes (travel tip: the advantage of having a rental car, is when you make stops, you do not have to lug your bags with you. We had to bring our carry-on bags onto the tennis court!!).
Denver has been on my radar because I graduated from the University of Denver, many years ago. When researching tennis centers (with public access) in Denver, we first looked at the Gates Tennis Center in the Cherry Creek section of Denver. We found that the wonderful tennis facility, the Gates Tennis Center was hosting a junior USTA tennis tournament during the weekend of our stay. That particular weekend, they were hosting a tournament. Despite their low availability for court time, the tennis center was able to provide us with a 7:00 am court time. Although tempting, we decided to look further. We found the Denver Tennis Park.
Denver Tennis Park
The Denver Tennis Park was located a couple of blocks from the University of Denver campus. I was very excited to visit the facility. It was easy to book a tennis court online. You merely had to register on their website, and then select whether you wanted indoor or outdoor courts. The available courts were available for instant booking. We chose to play outdoors.
We were welcomed warmly at the Denver Tennis Park. The new indoor/outdoor tennis facility was beautiful (opened November 2018). The receptionist acknowledged our tennis court reservation, and didn’t mention the fact that we had our carry on luggage along with our tennis bags. We asked if she had tennis balls for purchase. She presented us with tennis balls, but also told us we could rent a hopper of tennis balls, too. (Travel tip- Denver, Colorado is a mile high above sea level. You must use high altitude tennis balls. We tried to play with regular tennis balls in Lake Tahoe, only to realize the balls would fly out of the court). As we walked out to the outdoor courts, we noticed a sign stating that the Denver Tennis Park was home to the University of Denver tennis teams. As we continued to our assigned court, we saw my old college dorm standing tall behind the tennis courts. We had a great time hitting tennis balls. This was my fourth time hitting tennis balls since my ankle surgery, so we still had to take it easy. We hit for a while, and then we were off to our hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Denver.
Ritz-Carlton, Denver, Colorado
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver was only a few minutes away from the tennis campus. Our Lyft driver shared with us that there was a lot to do in Denver. If we liked beer there was an area close by, where tourists go for beer tastings. The Ritz-Carlton Denver was a downtown hotel, mainly catering to business travelers during the week. On the weekend, there were concert goers, families who planned on visiting dude ranches and/or drive up to the mountains. When traveling to Denver, it is important to acclimate yourself to the high altitude. It always takes me a day or two to get used to the dry, mountain air.
We were compelled to visit Elway’s restaurant, which was onsite at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver. We had a wonderful dinner. We had dined at the Elway’s restaurant at the Denver airport several times, so we were looking forward to a great meal. When we returned to our room, we were surprised with a plate of cake lollipops, balloons, a bottle of wine and a happy birthday message. Although it had been two weeks since my husband turned 55 years old, it was nice to receive a birthday surprise.
Ritz-Carlton Denver, Club Lounge
We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver, with club lounge access. The hosts and hostesses in the club lounge were attentive to our needs. The club lounge was spread out, with many areas to relax, alone or with a group. We took advantage of the small media room in the Club Lounge at their breakfast presentation. We happily watched Rafa Nadal become the French Open champion, while enjoying a delicious breakfast accompanied with mimosas. It was hard to leave the comfortable, Ritz-Carlton Denver as we moved on to our next destination.
Gaylord Rockies Resort and Conference Center
As you leave the Denver Airport, you will see an oasis, the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Conference Center. This property is a Marriott Bonvoy property. My husband was attending a conference at this resort, so we were looking forward to our stay (travel tip: when traveling on business, arrive earlier or stay later, to take advantage of the resort opportunities. I left the morning before the conference started, but was able to spend some quality down time with my husband). The resort was very large with restaurants, pools, tennis courts and a large spa on property. I could have spent more time playing tennis and taking advantage of the spa facilities, at the resort. Although the resort is very close to the Denver Airport (in Aurora, Colorado), they do not provide an airport shuttle service. Fortunately, the resort has a specific, comfortable waiting area for ride share pick ups. It was very easy to order a ride share service, and a ten minute drive to the departure door at the airport.
Last words about Denver!
Denver, Colorado is a fantastic place to vacation. You can spend your time in Denver, or travel a short distance to the mountain. Although it didn’t work out this time with the schedule, there are many Colorado vacation opportunities, in addition to playing tennis: Red Rocks, Vail, Aspen, Estes Park, local breweries, a Colorado Rockies baseball game in the summer, or a Denver Bronco game in the winter. It was especially refreshing to see people enjoying the Washington Park area, as we drove from the Denver Tennis Park to the Ritz-Carlton, Denver. Everyone was enjoying the outdoors…bicycling, walking, running, playing softball, tennis and more…much like Central Park in New York. We found that staying in the downtown area of Denver, at the Ritz-Carlton, Denver, was convenient. We loved that the Denver Tennis Park was a tennis ambassador to the community, growing tennis to all children in the Denver area. I’m especially excited for our next visit to Denver in the winter (for a Denver Bronco game), as we will have an indoor facility to get our tennis game on! We will definitely stay longer in Denver, next time, to discover more of the beautiful surrounding areas.
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