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The Gaylord Rockies Effect: Rapid Meetings Growth in Aurora, Colorado
Aurora, Colorado, is having a moment.
Thanks to the December 2018 opening of the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, Denver’s impressive next door neighbor has been catapulted into a new era. The resort—which has over 485,000 square feet of meeting space—has caught the eye of planners across the nation, with many bringing their meetings to Colorado for the first time.
“Gaylord Rockies booked over 1 million rooms through 2028 before even opening,” said Randi Morritt, director of marketing for Visit Aurora. “And 80% of the convention business coming into the resort is brand new to Colorado.”
On 85 acres with multiple outdoor spaces overlooking the mountains, the resort matches the alpine charm and grandeur of its natural surroundings.
[Related Content: 4 Fantastic Off-Site Venues for Groups Meeting in Aurora]
Aurora’s rising popularity was further confirmed in Cvent’s annual list of the top 50 meeting destinations in the U.S. The city made a strong showing on the 2019 list, rising nine spots from last year to position No. 33 and beating out top-tier meetings destinations like St. Louis, Missouri; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; and Fort Worth, Texas.
“The city continues to focus on increasing tourism, and these additional marketing and sales efforts are reflected in their rise in rank over the last two years,” said Chris McAndrews, vice president of marketing for Cvent Hospitality Cloud.
“Our Top Meeting Destinations list has become much more dynamic over the years as more cities look to tap into the booming meetings and events industry, and Aurora’s rise to number 33 is a great example of how those efforts can pay off for a destination,” he added.
Groups who already know about Aurora flock to the city for its proximity to Denver International Airport—a 20-minute drive away—and its easy access to the Rocky Mountains, dubbing itself “The Gateway to the Rockies.”
“Accessing the Rockies is a popular request when people hear they are coming to Colorado for an event,” Morritt said. “In two hours, you can be at Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, the city of Boulder or skiing in the mountains.
“We have really done a great job of partnering with those locations as well. We can help create referrals for these activities if people express interest at the end of their stay,” she added.
With its attractive location and shiny new convention center, the city is growing rapidly, which is breathing new life into old spaces.
The Upper Deck at Stanley Marketplace, Aurora, Colorado,Credit: From the Hip Photo
Morritt noted the two-level Stanley Marketplace—an urban market that’s home to 50-plus independently owned small businesses in food, drink, retail and event space—opened in late 2016 in an old manufacturing building, adding new retailers at a rapid rate.
“With the opening of Gaylord Rockies, there comes a lot of new development,” Morritt said. “There’s now even more to experience here.”
Getting to Aurora, Colorado
Aurora is located about 17 miles southwest of Denver International Airport (DIA) via the I-70 and I-225 junction, and just east of downtown Denver. DIA is served by Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Jet Blue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country Airlines and United Airlines, among others.
Aurora CVB Contact Information