Colorado, a leader in the tourism industry, recently broke records for visitation and tourism dollars. The Denver Post reports that Colorado brought in 77.7 million visitors that spent almost 20 billion dollars. As tourism grows in Colorado, students’ career options are expanding. Graduates of Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Tourism program such as Mike Case, General Manager of Denver’s Tech Center Marriott Hotel, are finding diverse careers across hospitality and tourism sectors.

The Tech Center Marriott has undergone expansive renovations and growth in the last year and Case has led the charge at keeping the locale at the forefront of Denver hotels, as desired accommodations and a premiere event venue. The hotel is one of Denver’s largest, with ample meeting space for groups of up to 1,000 and a variety of guest rooms and suites. The Tech Center Marriott is managed by Sage Hospitality, which has a diverse portfolio of properties across the US.

The task of running such a facility would be daunting for most, but not for Case.

Sage Hospitality COO Ken Widmaier states that he sleeps better knowing Case is on the job, and “his [Case] success and experiences dealing with large, complicated assets being repositioned in the market place is a huge plus for Sage.”


A Dog-leg Right

Case came to CSU with an interest in managing golf resorts which lead him to pursue a tourism degree. After a summer of working on golf courses, he took a “Dog-leg” in the direction of hotel and resort management.  One thing he learned from the change is how to assess the full picture.

“Take a couple of positions, look at all of your options and ask ‘what do I really want to do?’” Since that reassessment, Case has grown professionally and is now a GM with Sage Hospitality. “He is a great role model within Sage,” Widmaier reflected, “He’s held a number of different positions and successfully executed [them].” His growth and success within the industry showcases his achievements that started with excellence at CSU.


Natural Leadership

Case began his work in the tourism industry as an Activities Chair for a hotel in Florida. He recalls valuing the knowledge and expertise of the firm’s General Manager and Case quickly moved into upper management. Ultimately Case became the GM, but felt as though he wasn’t quite excelling as he hoped.

As any great leader does, Case learned from his mistakes and stepped down from the position. He took the time to explore the hotel industry through various positions before returning to the position of GM nine years later a stronger and more determined leader. Widmaier reified this, “[Case] has strong character, excellent leadership traits, and exemplary communication skills with all audiences: property team, customers, owners, community and across Sage.”


To Students: Be Open

“The world is very open…now is the time to really look and say ‘Yeah I like this’ but get experience, call people, sit down with them, talk to them and ask them what they do. I guarantee that there are so many things out there that you’re not even looking at. The opportunities are endless.”

With the steady growth of tourism across the country and especially in Colorado, tourism careers are becoming much more varied. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Department head Michael Manfredo agrees, “Graduates of our department are continuously landing more diverse tourism careers. Students are finding that what they’re learning within our courses can be applied across the spectrum of their interests and available positions.”


Natural Resource Tourism was previously named Commercial Recreation and Tourism, both degrees offered by The Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, a part of the Warner College of Natural Resources.