The 2009 Tourism Hall of Fame inductees are: Pat Bowlen, president & CEO of the Denver Broncos; Curtis Fentress, president and principal-in-charge of design, Fentress Architects, and Walter Isenberg, president & CEO of Sage Hospitality.


The Tourism Hall of Fame serves as the highest award for Denver’s travel industry – which registered its best year ever in 2008 with 12.2 million overnight visitors generating more than $3.1 billion in spending.  The industry supports more than 65,000 jobs in the metro area.


The gala is a fundraising event for the VISIT DENVER Foundation, which has given out more than $239,000 in scholarships to Colorado students pursuing higher education in the fields of tourism and hospitality.


For ticket information, please contact Seanee Mazone at (303) 571-9405 or


2009 Inductees


Pat Bowlen, Denver Broncos


Pat Bowlen is being inducted into the Tourism Hall of Fame for presiding over one of the NFL’s most successful franchises, bringing Denver national and international recognition, television exposure, and hundreds of millions of dollars of economic development.


Pat Bowlen entered the 2009 season in his 26th year as President and CEO of the Denver Broncos, and his quarter-plus century of ownership is indelibly stamped as one of the most successful periods for any team in National Football League history.  The only two-decade owner of a major league sports team in Colorado history, Bowlen presides over a franchise that is one of the crown jewels of Denver and of the city’s tourism industry.  Whether judged by the measure of wins and championships, attendance, national television exposure, or by reputation locally and throughout the NFL, there are few parallels in the world of professional sports. 


In the 25 seasons prior to the 2009 season, no NFL club had made more national television appearances than Denver (148, besides the Broncos’ games televised as part of network doubleheaders).  “I want us to be number one in everything,” Mr. Bowlen has often said in a recurring theme that marks his management style. Denver entered the 2009 season ranked second in the NFL in regular-season wins (243), second in Super Bowl appearances (5), tied for third in conference championship game appearances (7) and tied for third in playoff appearances (13) during Bowlen’s tenure.


The Broncos have sold out every regular season and playoff game since 1970, a streak that has spanned 40 consecutive years, and the team has drawn more than 18 million fans to their home games from 1984-2009, marking the highest total in the NFL. 


Bowlen is chairman of the board of the Denver Broncos Charities Fund and in that capacity has donated more than $25 million to charitable organizations in the Denver area since the fund’s inception in 1993.  He served as the Honorary Chairman of the Colorado Special Olympics for 20 years and has served as the Honorary Chairman of the Stadium Stampede (formerly the Colorado Family Classic) to benefit St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation for 26 years.


Bowlen’s status and reputation as an owner were recognized within the state on April 10, 2007, when he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. 


Curtis Fentress, FAIA, RIBA, Fentress Architects


Curtis Fentress designed three of the most important buildings to Denver’s travel industry, transforming both the skyline and the world’s opinion of the city.  Denver International Airport, one of the largest fabric structures in the world, has been voted “Best Airport in North America” for four consecutive years (2005-2008) by Business Traveler magazine readers and the fourth “Favorite American Architecture” landmark built in the last 15 years in a national poll by the American Institute of Architects.  Set against a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains, this gateway to the west leaves a lasting impression on more than 50 million visitors annually. 


The Colorado Convention Center has consistently been ranked by meeting planners as one of the top five convention centers in the nation, and has won 18 awards for design and innovation, including a 2008 American Architecture Award that gave the building international exposure in a traveling exhibit through Europe and the U.S.  In the design process of both Phase I and II, Fentress met with hundreds of meeting planners, listening to their ideas and suggestions on how to make the building practical and user-friendly.  He designed a building that meets the changing needs of planners and is also a spectacular addition to the Mile High City’s skyline, as the convention center has been featured on the cover of several books about the city. 

Finally, he designed the new home of Denver’s most beloved team, the Denver Broncos, creating INVESCO Field at Mile High – a facility watched by more than 140 million people around the world when it was chosen by then Senator Barack Obama for his acceptance speech during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.  In fact, the DNC delegates’ and visitors’ experience was shaped by Fentress’ designs, as Denver International Airport welcomed them warmly, and the convention center hosted numerous events and parties.


Curtis Fentress designs for people, a passion that has been recognized most recently with the 2010 Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture.  The American Institute of Architects selected Fentress to receive this prestigious award, recognizing “a portfolio of accomplishments that evidences great depth while making a significant contribution to the quality of public architecture.”  This is the highest award for public architecture in the country.


Fentress began his career at the New York firm of I. M. Pei and Partners, where he worked on numerous international projects.  His subsequent position as project designer at Kohn Pedersen Fox in New York brought him to Denver to design the Amoco Building, for which he was awarded Building Design and Construction Magazine’s “Young Professional of the Year” in 1980, the same year he formed C.W. Fentress and Associates.  Thirty years later, Fentress Architects is one of the largest architectural firms in the western mountain region.


Fentress is internationally recognized for his innovative design portfolio, which includes $22 billion of architectural projects worldwide.  Designs by Fentress have been featured in more than 1,200 national and international articles and books, and have been honored with more than 300 awards for design excellence and innovation.


Fentress has directed the design of many international projects, including Incheon International Airport in South Korea, voted “World’s Best Airport” by 8.6 million airline passengers for Skytrax’s 2009 World Airport Awards, and “World’s Best Airport” by 200,000 world travelers polled by Airports Council International every year for the past four years (2005-2008).  Fentress recently completed Arraya Tower in Kuwait, which stands as the world’s 10th tallest building, built in 2009.


Currently, Fentress is completing a modernization of the Colorado State Capitol, and he was selected to design the new Colorado State Supreme Court Judicial Center, which will occupy an entire city block on the Civic Center, adjacent to the State Capitol.


“Fentress has thrust architecture into the public consciousness across the western United States and done so in a way that has made it an accessible, comfortable part of the wider public culture,” said Paul Goldberger, former architecture critic of the New York Times.


Walter L. Isenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sage Hospitality


Few hoteliers in Denver’s history have contributed more to this city, both in providing outstanding service and in being an outstanding community partner, than Walter Isenberg.  Along with his partner, Zack Neumeyer, Isenberg founded Sage Hospitality in 1984, which owns and operates 54 hotels in 23 states ranging from large urban full-service hotels to smaller select service suburban properties.  The company’s hotels include well-known brands such as JW Marriott, Renaissance, Westin and Hilton, as well as independents.  In 2006, Sage formed the Sage Restaurant Group which operates high-volume street restaurants inside its urban hotels. 


Through Isenberg’s influence, Sage has been consistently recognized for its significant commitment to corporate citizenship.  Sage was the first recipient of Marriott International’s Spirit to Serve Award, given annually to a franchise partner that lives the vision to be an outstanding corporate citizen.  Sage has lead the industry with its green operating practices and has developed both LEED Silver and Gold hotels.   Sage, with Isenberg at the helm, has also been recognized for excellence in customer service, receiving excellence in service awards at many of its hotels.  Sage’s development group has won numerous awards of excellence in the development of hotels and has been nationally recognized as a leader in historic preservation.


Dollars for Dreams is a guest donation program that supports Sage’s commitment to positively impacting the communities in which the employees live and work. This program recognizes the generosity of hotel guests and offers them a convenient way to give. Since its inception in 2002, Dollars for Dreams has raised more than $1 million for dozens of national and local charities, including: Make-a-Wish, Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Children’s Hospital Travel Fund and National Jewish Hospital.


In addition to his many industry contributions, Isenberg has been a leader in creating the Denver Theatre District, which will greatly improve 14th Street as the main corridor serving both the Colorado Convention Center and the Denver Performing Arts Complex.  This new district will be highlighted with streetscaping, art, new colorful advertising programs, new trees and wider sidewalks, and create a more inviting connection to the 16th Street Mall.


Walter Isenberg is a member of the American Hotel Lodging Association’s Government Affairs Committee. Active in the community, Isenberg currently serves on the boards of the Downtown Denver Partnership; VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau (where he was a former chairman); Colorado Concern; The Children’s Hospital Foundation; Mountain States Employers Council and Starwood Hotels and Marriott International’s Owner Advisory councils. 


For his many contributions to Denver, both in the travel industry and in his numerous charity programs, Walter Isenberg is an outstanding inductee to the Tourism Hall of Fame.


About VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau

Celebrating 100 years of promoting the Mile High City, VISIT DENVER is a nonprofit trade association that contracts with the City of Denver to market Denver as a convention and leisure destination, increasing economic development in the city, creating jobs and generating taxes.  Tourism is the second largest industry in Denver, generating $3.1 billion in annual spending in 2008, while supporting 65,000 jobs. For more information on Denver call 800-2-DENVER or visit Denver’s official Web site at     



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