RMAF 2016 Was Incredaliciously Scrumptious
It was the Great Unknown. After well over a decade of enjoying the Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) at the Denver Marriott Tech Center, a venue that hadn't been updated in many years, it was time for a facelift. Marjorie Baumert, Chief Lady and Lovely Hostess of the event, was looking forward to this year's show being the launching pad of a newly renovated hotel. As many can attest to, taking on large construction 'facelift' of a hotel will find oneself experiencing delays and added costs.
That is precisely what happened and as RMAF 2016 drew closer, it was obvious that the Denver Marriott Tech Center's renovations were not going to be completed in time for the event. Since by now the show date was close at hand, Marjorie Baumert and staff did what anyone would do, and that is to devise carefully-planned work-arounds and do their best to smooth over the rough edges. While some exhibitors may have become no-shows due to a few of the large conference halls not being available, there were some sold-out for this event and a complete tower of rooms that were ready to rock 'n' roll.
Upon arriving at the hotel it reminded me of the Loft, which is a clean-line modern façade hotel chain akin to the W, yet with less DJ and chillax bar as rhythmic ambient music filling the public spaces. It looked spectacular and brought about a sense of style and sophistication to what was once an aging venue. Stepping inside, the clean lines and welcoming modern environment continued and, even after all these years of attending RMAF, I almost did not recognize the inner workings!
During check-in one attendee was not overly pleased about his room reservations, unbeknownst to him, were moved to a Hilton a few miles away. Yes there would be a shuttle bus provided between venues. Still, it was the Denver Marriot Tech Center that was once again to blame as they did not alert those with reservations of the sleeping room situation. For those keeping count, that is two quite large strikes against the hotel chain, with RMAF having to deal with the fallout. Needless to say, Marjorie worked diligently to be the most gracious hostess and continue with her staff doing their very best to ensure the show itself is as best as can be given these enormous challenges.
Once RMAF 2016 began, virtually every exhibit room had their gear setup and I, with my wife and Muse Heather, began going from room to room reporting while also handing out Enjoy the Music.com Blue Note Awards and keeping us on track for the many pre-scheduled business meetings. As we walked the hallways there was wonderful music, many smiling faces, and of course (literally) tones of high-end audio gear to discover. Since Heather has never been to RMAF, all she knew was the hotel in its present state. She very much enjoyed the new visual stylings, as we are regulars to upper-tier hotels including our recent July 4th holiday at the W directly on South Beach in Miami.
Since this was Enjoy the Music.com's 13th year reporting on the Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest, I have grown accustom to where all the vendors are (generally) located. With one of the main towers out of commission, an entire side of the hotel probably spanning well over 50% of the venue's floor space, it was still closed off due to renovation. What was once familiar become a bit less so. No matter, as it was easy to find many exhibitors within the center and right side of the building. Now in hindsight, I actually preferred this setup. It meant that giving out Blue Note Awards and being on time for business meetings was far more convenient!
Another benefit is that the exhibitor hallways were a wonderful 'straight shot' down a single walking path and no longer did you have to turn corners, perhaps not seeing / missing an exhibitor's room due to it being down the hall, then to the left, then down another hallway and another left to finally reach that hallway. All one had to do was take the elevator once to the top floor, and then use the stairwells to work your way down. As a lover of efficiency, RMAF 2016 was the most organized and time-saving event they have ever done! Sure we can all agree that we missed having the (temporality closed for renovations) additional conference halls and CanJam area, yet RMAF did have a covered tent area and special temporary structures brought in for the seminar room and for an exhibitor or three.
No matter what the hotel threw at Marjorie and company, they successfully fought back and, frankly, won myself and many others over. Am writing this the Monday after RMAF 2016 and I can happily say our staff of writers who attended, other photojournalists, and most important of all exhibitors, seemed to be extremely pleased with the efforts of everyone associated with RMAF. Sure we were perhaps not as enthusiastic about the hotel's management handling of the situation caused by renovation delays of the Denver Marriott Tech Center, yet everyone I spoke with agreed that from what impressive improvements we saw so far, we knew RMAF 2017 will be a must-attend event!
A most humble thanks goes out to everyone at RMAF for sticking with it and 'making lemonade'. It was delicious and satisfying as room after room of music filled our wanting hearts. We smiled while chatting with longtime friends, discovered new pieces of highly desirable audio gear, and partied the nights away. Must admit that some were expecting the worse, yet we all hoped for the best and there is no doubt the 2016 Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest was far better than virtually anyone would have ever imagined. Enthusiastic music lovers' dreams were fulfilled and we can all agree that RMAF 2017 will bring much excitement as the entire hotel will be raring to go with upscale delights in every way.
Thanks to everyone for making RMAF 2016 a resounding success! Enjoy the Music.com looks forward to seeing you in Denver at next year's show.