HomeFam TripsITTN's Julia Labedz Rounds-Up the Aer Lingus Denver FAM Trip

ITTN’s Julia Labedz Rounds-Up the Aer Lingus Denver FAM Trip

ITTN’s Julia Labedz reports back from the last leg of her Denver trip, hosted by Aer Lingus in celebration of the inaugural Dublin to Denver A330 flight last Friday afternoon. Joined by a crew of media representatives including Linda Daly from The Sunday Times, Vincent Boland from the Business Post, Cian Byrne from The Examiner, Martin Doyle from The Irish Times, Robin Nowacki from Northern Ireland Travel News, Nicola Brady (Freelancer), and Sarah Horgan from Aer Lingus PR, the group visited attractions in and around Denver City.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway 

Recognized as the world’s highest cog railroad, The Broadmoor Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway is an important part of the heritage of the Western United States. Julia Labedz and the media group, accompanied by Amy Long, Chief Innovation Officer at Visit Colorado Springs took the trip earlier in the week.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway is one of only 3 cog railways in America, and has been operating since 1891. Pikes Peak inspired “America the Beautiful” written by Katharine Lee Bates, whose experience in 1893 on top of Pikes Peak moved her to pen the poem that became one of the most patriotic songs honouring America. Pikes Peak is sometimes described as the ‘gateway to heaven’, standing at over 14,000 feet of elevation. 

The train ride is a pleasant 9 miles up to the summit of Pikes Peak, going through historical points like Ruxton Creek, the Icebox, and past the remains of the Halfway House Hotel. With each turn or climb, stories of historical points and significant people who shaped the region were told along the way.

Due to the snowfall up top, the group were only able to head to an elevation of 12,500 feet. This was enough however to see both the stretching plains of Colorado and sprawling mountain ranges.

At the top of Pikes Peak you can find the state-of-the-art Pikes Peak Summit Visitor Center (altitude: 14,115 feet) which opened in June 2021, providing people of all ages and abilities an exciting new experience on the summit of Pikes Peak. The facility provides improved accessibility throughout the entire summit, engaging interpretive exhibits that share the history of the mountain, a revamped gift shop, and indoor and outdoor dining areas where visitors can enjoy a world-famous Pikes Peak donut and other delicious treats while taking in the expansive views. The building and outdoor walkways were designed to create a seamless, immersive experience, similar to the Seven Falls, which is also operated by The Broadmoor.

Garden of The Gods

Just 15 minutes away from Pikes Peak is Garden of the Gods Trading Post, the oldest and largest gift shop in Colorado. It first opened in 1929, spanning 2,000 square feet and grew to 25,000 square feet by 2024. The trading post sells everything from work by local artists, to traditional and contemporary Native American jewelry, Navajo rugs, sculptures, and pueblo pottery—history is right at your fingertips here. There are also plenty of sections for contemporary gifts, thousands of magnets, keychains, postcards, stickers, shirts – general apparel.

After visiting the Trading Post, the group embarked on a jeep tour hosted by Adventures Out West.

This historic sight-seeing adventure led by Cowboy Sidewinder was a great way to enjoy and learn about the Pikes Peak region. The tour highlighted western scenery and some of Colorado Springs’ most famous historical sights. Attractions included North Cheyenne Canyon, the Shortline Railroad and its 100-year-old tunnels, Old Colorado City, and Garden of the Gods, the spectacular red rock park.

Garden of the Gods is home to a plethora of geological and ecological rarities that make the park a prime site for nature lovers. From the discovery of a new species of dinosaur, to a subspecies of honey ant not previously recorded, this park is home to countless flora and fauna. This jeep tour was about 70% on paved roads and 30% on dirt and is offered year-round. 

Transfer to the Limelight

Julia Labedz later transferred to the 4* Limelight Hotel in Denver City, just an hour and a half away from Colorado Springs. Formerly known as the Hotel Born, the new Limelight Hotel Denver begins the next chapter of Aspen Hospitality. Mixing the elevated mountain vibe of their other hotel properties with the sophistication of the Mile High City, this 200-room hotel adjacent to Union Station offers the perfect escape in the heart of it all. 

Average Room Rate: €320

Dinner was at Nocturne with Abby Schirmacher, Visit Denver’s PR & Communications Coordinator featuring an impressive jazz show and a walk through the River North Art District.


Urban sophistication meets outdoor adventure in Denver. With 300 days of sunshine, a thriving cultural scene, diverse neighbourhoods and natural beauty Denver has something for everyone. Explore The Mile High City’s chef-driven cuisine, local breweries serving craft beer and unique live music venues like the famous Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. Visit the Denver Art Museum with its renowned American Indian art and Western art collections, shop at Cherry Creek or get an authentic western shirt at the iconic Rockmount Ranch Wear.

Visit denver.org/  for more information.

The Denver Art Museum

Visit Denver’s PR & Communications Manager, Caroline Campbell joined Julia Labedz and the group for a tour of the Denver Art Museum.

The Denver Art Museum was founded in 1893 as the Denver Artists’ Club. Today it is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast with global art collections that represent cultures around the world as well as work by artists from Denver and the Rocky Mountain region. Internationally known for its Indigenous Arts of North America collection, the museum also has one of the finest collections of Latin American Art and Art of the Ancient Americas.

Julia Labedz viewed the Museums’ newest exhibition, Biophilia: Nature Reimagined, which brings together more than 80 imaginative works, including architectural models and photographs, objects, fashion, digital installations, and immersive art experiences that collectively highlight the transformative power of nature.

As well as Biophilia, the group visited the American West exhibition, which encompasses two centuries of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper related to the West. PIWAA’s holdings date from the early 1800s to the present and include an impressive mix of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper by renowned artists who worked in and depicted the West. The collection of bronze sculptures, several significant paintings by members of the Taos Society of Artists, and examples of 20th-century modernism make this collection one of national significance.

The Clyfford Still Museum

After the Denver Art Museum, Julia Labedz visited the Clyfford Still Museum for a private tour of the gallery. The Clyfford Still Museum allows visitors the unique experience to understand the legacy of Clyfford Still. He painted abstract art on huge canvases to invite viewers to experience and be absorbed by it. Still did not name his works because he wanted people to make their own interpretations.

Rocky Mountain’s – Cub Lake Hike

On the second last day of the trip, Julia Labedz went on a guided tour of the Rocky Mountain National Park and their surrounding area hosted by Rico Martinez from Aspire Tours.

Located between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the 415-square-mile high-country playground draws family vacationers, hikers, wildlife watchers, rock climbers and photographers all year.

Rocky Mountain National Park is just under a two-hour drive from Denver. The park boasts a wide range of activities that include summiting 14,259-foot Longs Peak, camping in the expansive backcountry, hiking to waterfalls and alpine lakes and, of course, wildlife viewing.

Julia Labedz took the Cub Lake trail, around 8km in length, with 540 feet of elevation. Along this this trail you can see meadows, wildflowers, and water features. After crossing the Big Thompson River at the beginning of the trailhead, the hike follows the western edge of Moraine Park, making it an excellent vantage point for viewing wildlife. Elk, chipmunks, mule deer and moose were all spotted along the way.

Cherry Creek North and Cherry Creek Shopping Centre

For the final day of the trip, Julia Labedz visited Cherry Creek North, a shopping district just 15 minutes from central Denver. Cynthia Ord, Sr. Marketing & Tourism Manager at Cherry Creek North offered a tour of the walkable outdoor community that has more than 300 businesses (Denver’s highest concentration of locally-owned stores), including boutique hotels, more than 65 restaurants, home furnishing stores and galleries, clothing and accessory retailers as well as numerous spas, salons, gyms and specialized personal health services, all located minutes from downtown.

After visiting Cherry Creek North, the group were provided with a guided tour by Mason Glick, Marketing and Sponsorship Director of the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Cherry Creek Shopping Center has more than 160 shops, with more than 40 stores exclusive to this area, including high-end retail options. The Center is also home to a movie theater and 15 eateries including dining hot spots, and is often called Rocky Mountain region’s premier shopping destination.

Colorado Tourism Office

For more information, please visit: www.colorado.com.

Denver to Dublin Direct Flight

Aer Lingus operates 4 weekly flights from Dublin airport to Denver International Airport, where customers can preclear US Immigration before stepping onboard their transatlantic flight. 

Economy fares start from €299 each-way and business class from €2699 return including taxes and charges.

Flying with Aer Lingus customers enjoy complimentary meals and soft drinks on board plus the very latest inflight entertainment system boasting latest blockbusters, box sets and more.

Customers travelling in the business class cabin can enjoy spacious seats that transform into fully lie-flat 6.5ft long beds as well as luxury dining with fresh ingredients sourced from all over Ireland, complimentary alcohol and a generous baggage allowance of 63kg.

To book, please visit aerlingus.com.


This trip would not have been possible without the ease and accessibility offered by Aer Lingus’ new direct route between Dublin and Denver. Julia Labedz and the ITTN Group would like to thank Aer Lingus for hosting this FAM Trip, the Colorado Tourism Office, Visit Colorado Springs’ Amy Long and Doug Price for their hospitality and amazing Colorado Springs itinerary, the team at Visit Denver, including Abby Schirmacher, Justin Bresler, Caroline Campbell and Taylor Shields, who helped showcase the best of Colorado from city to wild, as well as all tour operators for sharing their knowledge and providing the group with amazing experiences, every time.


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