Tag Archives: San Luis Valley Tourism Association

Saguache News – February 7

Tourism Conference on Feb. 21 Benefits SLV Biz

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Saguache Chamber President Barry Van Sant provides an update regarding Saguache tourism during the 2017 San Luis Valley Tourism Conference. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

The San Luis Valley (SLV) Tourism Association will be hosting its annual SLV Tourism Conference on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

This year’s conference will feature updates from Liz Thomas and Andrea Oaks-Jaramillo with the Valley Initiative Partners; Kevin Wilkins with the SLV Development Resources Group; Jeff Owsley with the Small Business Development Center; as well as representatives from the Counties.  

Also in attendance will be representatives from the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve; the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area; SLV Great Outdoors; and Sand Dunes Recreation. If you have a tourism related business, find out how you can be part of Promoting Tourism Together.

Also appearing at the annual conference will be Ty Coleman, Mayor of Alamosa, Colo. For readers who may not know, Coleman is also a published author of a life-changing and thought-provoking book “Jump-Start How To Recharge Your Life.

Featured SLV Speaker Ty Coleman

Registration will begin at High Noon and the conference will be from 12:30 to 7 p.m. Cost for the conference is $40, annual membership in the Association is $35, or you can do both for $65.

The mission of the San Luis Valley Tourism Association is to preserve our environmental and cultural resources by unifying our marketing efforts to promote the San Luis Valley as a tourism destination and thereby developing responsible economic growth for the six counties of the San Luis Valley.

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Latest News – February 27

SLV Conference Highlights Valley Successes

The San Luis Valley Tourism Association (SLVTA) conference was held in Alamosa last Tuesday, Feb. 21. More than 50 people were in attendance from around the valley representing all the unique and diverse aspects of the region: from hot springs to trains, and alligator farms to rodeos.spacer

Saguache Chamber President Barry Van Sant provides an update regarding Saguache tourism during the San Luis Valley Tourism Association held at Adams state UNiveristy on February 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

Saguache Chamber President Barry Van Sant provides an update on Saguache tourism during the San Luis Valley Tourism Association held at Adams state University on February 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell.

spacer“There’s over 200 years of tourism and hospitality experience represented in this room today,” stated Fred Bunch who played Emcee for the day, although most know him as the one-man comedy show and Park Ranger/Chief of Resource Management with The Great Sand Dunes. This year, the conference was held at Adams State University, who one of several 2017 SLV Conference sponsors.

A cross-section of people, representing both the public and private sector were treated to a series of presentations and updates from neighboring counties, as well as an afternoon session from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO). Here are some of the highlights and interesting facts presented at the 2017 SLVTA Conference. Please consider becoming a member!

More than 50 people where in attendance at the 2017 San Luis Valley Tourism Association conference held Febrary 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

More than 50 people where in attendance at the 2017 San Luis Valley Tourism Association conference held February 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

The Welcome Center in Alamosa is getting a GoPro Camera which will allow visitors to check out the equipment for their day’s adventure in the San Luis Valley. Once the camera is returned,  everyone gets to enjoy and share the images and video. Great idea!

There were a record number of visitors to The Great Sand Dunes in 2016, an increase of almost 30% reported Ranger Fred Bunch, with a grand total of 386,00 visitors – wow! There’s no doubt that this unique park draws in the majority of visitors to the area, so be sure to be ready for a big influx during these Weekends of National Park Week which will mean FREE admission. April 15-16 and 22-23. There’s a lot going on at the park, be sure to stop over and check it out!

Opening Day for the Cumbres Toltec Scenic Railroad will be Saturday, May 27 with two special double-headed trains. Locomotives 315 and 463 will pull the opening day train from Antonito to Chama; while a pair of K-36 locomotives will pull the first train from Chama to the summit of Cumbres Pass and then on to Antonito.  It was also announced that an extra special musical addition will be added to the 3:15 p.m. train, as John Denver tribute performer Chris Collins will join the Opening Day celebration treating passengers with an uplifting show. Psst, there’s also a LOCALS DAY planned.  Tickets can be booked through the railroad’s web site or by calling 888-286-2737. All Aboard!spacer

SLV Toursim Associaiton President Lee Bates (center at podium) introduces the "Keep It Cool" Board at the annual SLVTA conference held at Adams State Unviersity. Photo: Saguache Today

SLV Tourism Association President Lee Bates (center) introduces the “Keep It Cool” Board at the SLVTA conference held at Adams State University. Photo: Saguache Today

spacerIn SLV Tourism Association news, board member Jeff Parnell reported that the “Keep It Cool” campaign of 2016 went over very well, highlighting the cooler temperatures the valley can offer for visitors. This successful message with continue in 2017 with a primary focus on bringing Arizona residents up out of the heat, as well as plans to capture some of the nearby Grand Canyon visitors.

Lee Bates, who also serves as the SVL Tourism Association President, reported on the new recreational opportunities available at the Mill Creek Shooting Resort, including “a 10-inch target at 1 mile.” Formerly known as Cowtown to locals, Mill Creek Shooting Resort was acquired in the spring of 2016 and the business plan has been evolving since then. Keep up with their latest news, including this June’s “The Showdown at Mill Creek Presented by Riverman Gun Works” by connecting with them on the Mill Creek Shooting Resort Facebook Page.  

Jay Young with the Colorado Gators Reptile Park located in Mosca, just off Hwy 17  reported about the progress of the scuba lagoon. Did you know that Colorado has the most scuba divers per capita than any other state? But there’s no place (warm) for them to dive!

The new Gator Lagoon is currenlty slated to be open this May 2017 at the Colorado Gator and Reptile Park located in Mosca off Highway 17 in the beautiful San Luis Valley.

The new Gator Lagoon is currenlty slated to be open this May 2017 at the Colorado Gator and Reptile Park located in Mosca off Highway 17 in the beautiful San Luis Valley.

Now they can swim with some pacu, catfish, and turtles, just some of the friendly reptile residents at the Colorado Gators and Reptile Park. The lagoon should be open in May and a GoFundMe Page has been established to help offset someof the costs. Young also reported that Dr. Jeff from the Animal Plant paid a visit to Mr. Bo Mangles, one of only 5 albino alligator in Colorado. Stay tuned for when that episode will air on TV.

Saguache Chamber of Commerce President Barry Van Sant reported on the town’s successful festivals from the Hollyhock Festival to the Saguache Pow-Wow to the Fall Festival, these events all work towards bringing more people into town. Van Sant also highlighted the chamber’s success with their local speaker program allowing business owners to share their stories with others. 

Shane Burris provided the overview from Rio Grande County which highlighted among other things the upcoming Crane Festival the weekend of March 11-12 in Monte Vista. As part of the Burris and Sons Bucking Bulls, he also highlighted the upcoming events and rodeos in the region which kicks off March 24 in Monte Vista. Details and schedule can be found HERE.spacer

Shane Burris with the Burris and Sons Bucking Bulls gives on update from Rio Grand County as well as the rodeo report at the annual San Luis Valley Tourism Association conference on February 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Shane Burris with the Burris and Sons Bucking Bulls gives on update from Rio Grand County as well as the rodeo report at the annual San Luis Valley Tourism Association conference on February 21. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

spacerIn Mineral County, Creede is seeing an explosion in attendance to its July 4th celebration. More than 10,000 people come to town to enjoy the parade down Main Street, the mining events championships, the street vendors and festival. While many attribute the fireworks as the main draw for the crowds, Mineral County Chamber of Commerce Director Brad Ayers attributed the success to the hard work of many others during those building years before he arrived last year.

Conejos County boasts the oldest church in Colorado with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Antonito. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Conejos County boasts the oldest church in Colorado with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Antonito. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

During the afternoon session with the CTO representatives, the topic of conversation turned to agritourism and heritage tourism programs. These programs celebrates Colorado’s agricultural roots and rich cultural heritage. This innovative concept creates unique and authentic opportunities for visitors to step off the beaten path and engage in a myriad of culinary, heritage and agricultural offerings. Both seem right in line with much of what the San Luis Valley has to offer. So if you’re looking to take advantage of these grant programs, please check out the CTO website for details.

Perhaps the best representation of the diversity of the San Luis Valley can be seen in the pictures from the 2016 Photo Contest sponsored by the SLVTA. The images speak for themselves and can be found HERE

Grand Prize in the San Luis Valley Tourism Association 2016 Photo Contest went to Jeremy Elliot with this stunning picture of Church in San Luis, Colo.

Grand Prize in the San Luis Valley Tourism Association 2016 Photo Contest went to Jeremy Elliot with this stunning picture of the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross in San Luis, Colo.

The 2017 SLVTA conference wrapped up with a presentation by former Broncos player Karl Mecklenburg who presented the “Six Keys to Success.”  His speech was a fitting end to the program, highlighting the universal, unchanging keys to success, and inspiring the best qualities in SLVTA members who left ready to “Keep It Cool” for 2017!

Great job to the 2017 organizers and sponsors. Please consider becoming part of his group’s efforts whose mission is “to preserve our environmental and cultural resources by unifying our marketing efforts to promote the san Luis Valley as a tourism destination And thereby developing responsible economic growth for the six counties of the San Luis Valley: Saguache, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos, Costilla and Mineral.”

Check out membership opportunities for the San Luis Valley Tourism Association and stay connected! They may also be contacted via email: sanluisvalley.org@gmail.com.slvta-header-21

Latest News – February 15

Tourism Conference Next Week to Benefit SLV Biz

The San Luis Valley (SLV) Tourism Association will be hosting its annual SLV Tourism conference on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Adams State University’s Student Union Building. slvta-header-21

This year’s conference will include several speakers from the Colorado Tourism Office as well as industry professionals from around the valley. If you have a tourism related business, find out how you can be part of Promoting Tourism Together.

Also appearing at next week’s conference will be Karl Mecklenburg, former Denver Bronco captain. Mecklenburg will be returning as this year’s keynote speaker after his memoriable presentation for the group in 2011.

Featured Speaker Karl Mecklenburg

Featured SLV Speaker Karl Mecklenburg

Registration will begin at 9 a.m. and the conference will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost for the conference is $35, annual membership in the Association is $35, or you can do both for $60.

The mission of the San Luis Valley Tourism Association is to preserve our environmental and cultural resources by unifying our marketing efforts to promote the San Luis Valley as a tourism destination and thereby developing responsible economic growth for the six counties of the San Luis Valley.

Latest News – February 24

Saguache Celebrates “Mr. Bo Mangles” on Saturday

See you later alligator, unless you are in the heart of the San Luis Valley (SLV). And then you could very well be setting your eyes on the only albino alligator in Colorado. Say hello to Mr. Bo Mangles!

This Saturday is "Mr Bo Mangles" day. He's the ONLY albino gator in the state and at the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Find out how to get free passes on their Facebook Page: LINK.

This Saturday is “Mr Bo Mangles” day. He’s the ONLY albino gator in the state and at the Colorado Gators Reptile Park. Find out how to get free passes: LINK.

Colorado Gators Reptile Park is located in the heart of the SLV and is “the only high-altitude alligator farm,” now a full blown tourist attraction. The idea stemmed from convenience, really, as the site was originally a fish farm and the best way to dispose of the remains of that venture were gators.  Today they also offer classes in gator wresting. Now, that’s got to be on somebody’s birthday wish list!

And if you’re looking for something a bit more subdued but that will capture the attention of your friends and followers, then remember, every visitor to Colorado Gators has the opportunity to meet, pet, hold, and take pictures with a little alligator!  For $2 visitors can buy a bucket of “Gator Chow” to feed the alligators, and occasionally there will be dead fish available to feed to the alligators as well!  The park also has several large African Sulcata tortoises that wander freely throughout the their own sections of the tour.  Feel free to pet these tortoises, but watch your step, there are several low “tortoise fences” too keep each tortoise in his or her section.  

Colorado Gators in the snow?! Photo: Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

Colorado Gators in the snow?! Yep, you can find them right in the middle of the San Luis Valley! Photo: Colorado Gators Reptile Park.

Two of their most popular exhibits are the albino alligators, including Mr. Bo Mangles, and Morris the Hollywood alligator from “Happy Gilmore.”  Some of the other reptiles you can see at Colorado Gators Reptile Park are:  fearsome Nile crocodiles, Burmese pythons, a 17′ reticulated python, anacondas, red tail boas, 3 species of rattlesnakes, monitor lizards, tegus, geckos, iguanas, box turtles, snapping turtles, and caiman.

Who knew, a zoo, right in the middle of the San Luis Valley?! For more information: Colorado Gators. Oh and by the way, this Saturday, Feb. 27 is Mr. Bo Mangles Day and the park has a special they are promoting on their Facebook Page (GG’s Bed and Breakfast in Hooper). Connect and find out how to get free passes.

Latest News – February 22

SLV Tourism Conference on Thursday in Monte Vista

The San Luis Valley Tourism Association (SLVTA) is hosting its annual conference this Thursday, Feb. 25. The event will take place at the Vali 3 Theater in Monte Vista from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., with evening entertainment available through 7 p.m.

SLV_tourism_LogoThis event will be an opportunity for the San Luis Valley community to come together, share their successes and find out what’s new. The summer season is right around the corner, if you are in the tourism business in the San Luis Valley, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to network. All attendees will have an opportunity to share what is new in tourism in their area or business. Combined efforts and resources go so much farther!

The keynote speaker will be Luis Benitez, the new director of the Colorado Department of Outdoor Recreation (CDOR).  Benitez will share his personal outdoor recreational experiences including climbing Mt. Everest 6 times! He will also share his goals for promoting Colorado tourism through (CDOR).

Cathy Ritter, new director of the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO), will give an update on Colorado’s tourism industry.  Laura Grey, CTO’s Director of Heritage & Agritourism, will present on heritage and agritourism.  Dave Fluegge, CTO’s Social & New Media Contractor will get us up to speed on what’s new in social media advertising.

The San Luis Valley could benefit from the Colorado Heritage & Agritourism. Find out more at Thursday's conference. Photo: Saguache Today.

The San Luis Valley could benefit from the Colorado Heritage & Agritourism. Find out more at Thursday’s conference. Photo: Saguache Today.

Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. and the conference goes from at 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Refreshments, lunch, dinner, and evening entertainment are included with registration.  Lunch and dinner will be served at the Monte Villa Inn.  The evening’s entertainment will be provided by comedian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, a veterinarian on Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets for 11 seasons. Dr. Fitzgerald also performs at Denver Comedy Works.

Conference registration is $35/person.  Membership to the San Luis Valley Tourism Association is $35/business.  Get both for $60!  Guests for dinner and evening entertainment are welcome! Cost for guests is $20 per person.  Parking for the event will be behind the Monte Villa Inn and Rio Grande Savings and Loan. Vali 3 Theater is located at 139 Adams St, Monte Vista, Colo.SLVTAKeep Cool

 

Latest News – January 23

Valley Tourism Holds 2nd Annual Photo Contest

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, thanks to the San Luis Valley Tourism Association (SLVTA), your photo could be worth a bit more than that!  SLVTA invites all amateur photographers to enter their 2nd annual photo contest with a chance to win up to $150.

The photographic opportunities seem to be endless in the San Luis Valley. Pick up your camera an it could be worth up to $150. Photo: Saguache Today.

The photographic opportunities seem to be endless in the San Luis Valley. Pick up your camera and it could be worth up to $150. Photo: Saguache Today.

Submissions should be in one of 3 categories, Cultural, Natural, or Recreational and must be taken within the San Luis Valley and not have been submitted in previous contests. The same photo cannot be submitted in more than one category, and the content of photos will be judged based on the category submitted.

The winner in each category will receive $50 and the overall best photo will be awarded an additional $100 prize. By submitting photos the photographer gives permission to the San Luis Valley Tourism Association for use in promotions of the San Luis Valley as a tourism destination on website, social media, and other media.

Deadline for submissions is February 15, 2016. Please submit photos through Dropbox.com to Sanluisvalley.org@gmail.com. Photos should be at least 300 dpi resolution and should include photographer’s name, location of photo, and contact information for the photographer.