Hall Of Fame Inductee — 2003
In 1979, Will McFarlane moved the corporate headquarters of AIRCOA to Denver. He had founded the company in 1968 to develop and operate motels, hotels, restaurants and numerous other real estate projects. Less than a decade after moving to Denver, AIRCOA had become the largest independent hotel and resort management company in the U.S., operating 167 hotels. AIRCOA was the largest franchisee of Sheraton Hotels and the second largest Hilton Hotel franchisee. AIRCOA created the Clarion chain and owned and operated such hotels as the Brown Palace. In 1990, Will sold AIRCOA to Regal Hotels of Hong Kong and with several partners he bought a 14,000-acre ranch in eastern Colorado to breed American buffalo. He established the 22,000 square foot Denver Buffalo Company Restaurant and Trading Post in Denver and started New West Foods, which is today the largest buffalo and game marketing company in the U.S. In addition to his many hotel and restaurant contributions to Denver, he served two terms as chairman of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, helping to lead them out of bankruptcy and into a stable financial condition. He served as a trustee to Denver University and as been a member of virtually every board in Denver from the Colorado Tourism Board and the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau to the Downtown Denver Partnership and Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. He is truly one of the great leaders and pioneers of Colorado’s hospitality industry.
Each Denver & Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame inductee reflects the profile of the inductee at the time of the induction.