Entering the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, it’s difficult not to feel awed. A massive triangular window invites natural light into the atrium while offering visitors an expansive view of downtown Denver, with the Rocky Mountains serving as a breathtaking backdrop.
For over two years, area commuters have been able to see the resort rising from the dusty landscape about two miles east of Peña Blvd. The City of Aurora in 2012 won its bid to secure the new resort, promising $300 million in incentives. Regional Tourism Act funding sweetened the deal with another $81.4 million. Corporate restructuring at Gaylord Entertainment that same year, however, called the project into question, and area hotels worried about the competition banded together to sue the City of Aurora in Denver District Court.
None of these (dismissed) legal matters or obstacles, however, seem to matter now that this behemoth is teeming with activity. Strolling through the public spaces, the smell of new carpeting and purposeful stride of busy staff suggest only the current reality: jobs and economic development.
Director of Marketing Deanne French says “Our property will host about 80% group travel like conventions and about 20% leisure travelers.” To attract leisure travelers, she is developing “Stay and Ski” packages to allow visitors to acclimate to the altitude before heading to the slopes. At most Gaylord resorts, she says, the majority of leisure travelers visit during November and December, when the hotel features an ice show, ICE!, that changes each year.
Eight different restaurants permit guests and those who just want to pretend they’re guests, a variety of dining experiences, from sports bar to Asian fusion cuisine to the Old Hickory Steakhouse that is standard at every Gaylord property. The resort’s four ballrooms, ranging in size from 8,000 to 59,736 square feet, mean that any event you can envision, will find an appropriate space here.
For those seeking a staycation, the Gaylord Rockies will not disappoint. Almost 500,000 gallons of water fill its 22,000 square feet of heated indoor and outdoor pools, complete with water slides and lazy river. The pool areas are the only ones reserved exclusively for overnight guests; day visitors are welcome to book appointments at the spa or make a dinner reservation.
A free shuttle bus connects guests to the A Line at 61st and Peña, assuring easy access to downtown attractions as well as the airport. It might also be a fun date night option for parents wanting to avoid driving.