DENVER-The city has narrowed its choice for a new convention center hotel to either Hilton and Hyatt. The shortlist eliminates Westin and Marriott.

“This was a tough decision between four highly qualified hotel managers,” says Mayor Wellington Webb. “We are extremely fortunate to have the best convention center hotel operators interested and it just reinforces the strength of the Denver market.”

The Convention Center Hotel Committee, which includes city council Members Cathy Reynolds and Elbra Wedgeworth; manager of revenue Cheryl Cohen-Vader; director of projects Liz Orr and manager of general services Tom Migaki created a list of 14 criteria which included both subjective and objective standards.

Criteria included labor peace, a room block commitment, performance based termination, employee and business diversity, experience with convention headquarters hotels, a fit in the Denver convention market, ability to drive new room nights/group business, completeness in rfp responses, the financial proposal, experience in publicly-owned hotels, relationships with other cities, good corporate citizens and a hotel with a sense of place.

The committee will negotiate proposed term sheets with both hotels over the next month and the final hotel operator is scheduled to be selected in early August.

In March, citing the lack of progress in a proposed private development of a new hotel, Webb opted instead for the city to turn to the public tax-exempt bond market to publicly finance the construction of a convention center hotel.

Webb says development of the hotel is integral to the success of the $268-million convention center expansion, which the citizens of Denver approved in 1999.