One of the highlights of the inaugural Hot Springs Connection Conference was the opportunity for participants to peek behind the operational curtain and ask questions of hot springs business owners in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
With the planning for the second annual Hot Springs Connection Conference underway, organizer Vicky Nash, owner of tourism marketing firm Resort Trends Inc., is looking back at what made the initial conference held in Glenwood Springs, Colorado last year, a resounding success. It was the first time hot springs owners and operators gathered in one place to discuss the unique challenges of running geothermal-based businesses.
Among the many highlights of the three-day event were the site tours that provided participants with a rare opportunity to glimpse off-limits-to-the-public areas and ask questions of operations managers. “According to feedback from returned surveys, site tours to the geothermal attractions in town were a huge hit,” Nash said. “Nothing can substitute for seeing with your own eyes how a facility operates and getting answers to questions from people experienced in dealing with the same kinds of challenges.”
As a veteran of the tourism marketing industry, Nash has been to her share of conferences. “The best conferences build networking connections and foster collaboration between participants. The site tours helped achieve this goal through relationship-building interactions,” she said.
On the first day of the conference, the group met at the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool, which was closed to the public for maintenance and cleaning. While it may seem odd to go to a pool with no water in it, for the conference participants, it was nothing short of amazing.
While attendees waded into the waterless pool, manager Brian Ammerman addressed the challenges of keeping the world’s largest hot springs pool at a consistent temperature. On another tour, later in the conference, Ammerman showed participants the pump house, mixing tanks and source spring, while Steve Matzl, operations manager, answered questions on topics ranging from point-of-sale software and the advantages of multiple revenue streams to lifeguarding policies and seasonal hiring challenges.
At Iron Mountain Hot Springs, co-owners Steve Beckley and Mogli Cooper offered guests a close-up look at the pump house and mechanical rooms. Beckley explained how the improved filtration system works, why he switched from concrete to fiberglass holding tanks and how he keeps the soaking pools clean and pristine without the use of chlorine. Cooper detailed what they learned since opening in 2015 and offered hard-won advice to the group so others could benefit from her experiences.
The last stop for tours was the Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves where co-owner David Anselmo met attendees and recounted the cave’s history and connection with the Ute Indian tribe. Co-owner Patsy Steele led tours of the facility that included the historic vapor cave—natural underground geothermal steam baths that date back to Glenwood’s beginnings—as well as the more recent additions of the spa and salon.
Nash is currently planning the second annual Hot Springs Connection Conference, which will be held in November 2019. The exact location is yet to be determined. Learn more and stay informed about hot springs industry happenings and upcoming events at www.hotspringsconnection.com.