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Top of the Town 2023: Services

May 16, 2023

The gear shops, massage therapists, and other Mile High City businesses going that extra mile.

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Flora House owner Jen Alderton, who traveled regularly for nearly two decades while working in the wine industry, knows what hotel guests need—and, thus, how to provide that in her 1892, six-bedroom Cheesman Park mansion. She purchased the property (a former inn called the Adagio) in 2022 and undertook a complete renovation of the dated space. Each guest room is named after a flower or plant and has live botanicals to match. The bold wallpaper and tiling, paired with original woodwork and antique furnishings, maintain the alluring Victorian vibe while also offering a fresh aesthetic that feels “time-appropriate and contemporary, but vintage,” Alderton says. Here, three reasons to skip the bustle of big-box downtown hotels and spend a cozy weekend at Flora House.

1. Just a handful of blocks from Cheesman Park and Denver Botanic Gardens (guests receive free passes), Flora House is also within walking distance—or biking distance, using one of the borrowable rides—of eateries and bars aplenty.

2. Depending on the day, guests can enjoy fruit, yogurt, cheeses, meats, pastries, and/or granola from 8 to 10 a.m., plus an all-hours coffee bar and snacks in the guest fridge. Take your breakfast plate to a shady spot in the courtyard, then return later with a BYO beverage for a soak in the hot tub or s’mores around the fire pit.

3. Energy-efficient LED lighting, water-efficient plumbing, and water-saving landscaping—all installed during the 2022 renovation—plus a commitment to composting and reusable or refillable kitchen and bathroom products help Flora House minimize its footprint.

Meier Skis’ graphics—from Wild West–inspired designs such as the Annie Oakley and Big Hoss to a special Allman Brothers tribute this past season—are guaranteed chairlift conversation starters. But it’s what’s inside these eco-friendly planks, made in Meier’s South Broadway factory since 2019, that we can’t stop talking about. To see what makes the company’s rides some of the prettiest and toughest in the business, book a happy hour tour slot, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Labor Day through Memorial Day, online; your $20 ticket includes a local pint from the shop’s on-site taps. In the meantime, here’s a layer-by-layer breakdown based on what we learned by grabbing a beer and following Meier “skitender” Sean Lawson through the workspace.

Base: Ultra-high molecular weight plastic“We use some of the hardest base material in the industry,” Lawson says, because it’s “able to take a hard hit from the sneaky rocks we so often find in Colorado.”

Core: Three types of wood“Maple is our hardwood, used in the middle so we can drill bindings into it,” production and engineering manager Parker Davis says. “Then there’s poplar on the edges to give it a soft, playful feel and local beetle-kill pine as an aesthetic and to help pull deadfall out of the forest.”

Support layers: High-weave fiberglass or carbon fiber“We can use different weights and lengths to stiffen or soften the flex profile of the ski,” Lawson says. The fiberglass is saturated in a sap-based eco-epoxy that employs no petroleum.

Edges: SteelAmerican-sourced, hand-bended, and glued to the base, Meier’s steel edges are thicker than what most ski makers use, helping the skis withstand more tunes and run-ins with rocks.

Sidewalls: Lightweight, High-Density Polymer“It protects our wood cores from outside water and air damage,” Lawson says, “and ensures impacts won’t penetrate to the core from the side.”

Topsheet: Sublimation NylonMeier prints graphics on recycled paper with eco-friendly ink and then transfers (aka sublimates) the designs to a clear topsheet material. “We use the discarded paper as packing material for shipping skis and boards across the globe,” Lawson says. Buyers can customize their skis by supplying the team with their own graphics, images, or logos, with one caveat: “We require that at least 30 percent of graphics be transparent,” Davis says, “to show off our beautiful wood cores.”

Em Newton loves to talk about fascia. She will wax poetic about how the thin casing of slick connective tissue—which surrounds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve, and muscle and holds them in place—has historically been overlooked as a cause of pain in the human body. Then the licensed massage therapist, 35, will explain that to alleviate suffering caused by tight or hardened fascia, she breaks it back down into its natural, elastic state. Her particular brand of therapy, which she practices out of her Denver house (call 303-847-5158 to book), isn’t what you’ll find at most bliss-focused spas: Newton is more interested in reducing the agony of computer-weary neck muscles, chronic migraines, TMJ, or frozen shoulder than she is in delivering a dose of pampering. “I try to read the body and discover where the impingement is,” she says. “It could be the size of a pinhead, and it might not be located where the pain is.” When she does find it, she works her magic—and will likely ask for your help. “The grooves between muscles and bones and nerves should be slippery with fascia,” she says. “When areas aren’t stimulated, the fascia gets hard and sticks to things, causing pain. That’s why I ask my clients to move certain ways during therapy to stimulate the area and unstick things.” While the therapy might not be as relaxing as, say, a hot stone massage, it’ll likely give you something better: lasting relief. —Lindsey B. King

The problem with the hefty stock of Victorian and midcentury houses in the metro area’s most popular neighborhoods? The interiors are often saddled with decades of neutral walls, brown wood, and beige carpets—and that aesthetic is at odds with a current design trend that Boulder-based Istoria Interior Design owner Stephanie Waddell calls the “reversal of minimalism.” “It’s an anything-goes maximalist approach to design: layering pattern on pattern, a complex use of color, and an over-the-top array of decor items that have meaning to the inhabitants,” says Waddell, whose experiences working in art galleries and owning a textile design brand help her perfect the coveted look for her clients. Follow her advice to embrace bright hues, daring prints, and geometric wallpaper—maybe even all in the same room.

We often start with one major piece that we love, like a rug, and then pull out its design details to riff on elsewhere. I love the styling process at the end, when I stand in a corner and figure out where we need to add a bit more emphasis, weight, or highlights. I don’t want your eye to get stuck. I want it to move around and delight in each new thing it sees.”

Layering in modern elements gives a historical home a story: the sense of multiple inhabitants having lived there through the years, each adding their own personal touch. You can place a modern, clean-lined sofa against the backdrop of an original exposed-brick wall and, boom, it feels fresh. Or paint that old molding a bold color instead of traditional white.”

I often hear this refrain: ‘I really love that green velvet sofa, but I’m afraid I’ll get tired of it.’ Well, I’m a strong believer that you are way more likely to get tired of that beige sofa than the one that lights you up when you walk in the room.”

multiple locations

7085 W. 38th Ave. | 303-424-3221


2848 Fairfax St. | 720-408-9361

1221 S. Clarkson St., Suite 314 | 303-868-3348

multiple locations

1325 S. Colorado Blvd., Suite B-016 | 303-756-9355

150 Clayton Lane | 303-316-2700

multiple locations

8955 S. Ridgeline Blvd., Suite 1500 | 720-641-3740

1895 Youngfield St. | 303-828-7404

The Local1.2.3.Base: Ultra-high molecular weight plasticCore: Three types of woodSupport layers: High-weave fiberglass or carbon fiberEdges: SteelSidewalls: Lightweight, High-Density PolymerTopsheet: Sublimation NylonWe often start with one major pieceLayering in modern elementsI often hear this refrain: