In a state known for its high altitude, the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center is reaching even loftier heights. The property, which debuted in December 2018 in Aurora, Colorado, located just outside Denver, is the largest combined resort and convention center in the Centennial State.

Gaylord Rockies delivers 1,501 rooms, 485,000 square feet of convention center space and an extensive indoor/outdoor waterpark on a sprawling 85-acre site. It’s already a game-changer for the region.

“Our sales team was focused on bringing new business to Colorado, so prior to opening, they had booked 1.2 million group room nights through 2028,” said Deanne French, director of marketing at Gaylord Rockies. “80 percent of that is groups that have never been to Colorado.”

During a recent visit to Gaylord Rockies, it was easy to see why the property, not to mention the destination of Aurora, has become a magnet for business and leisure travelers.

With its welcoming residential mountain lodge ambience, hyper-local design philosophy, copious gathering space and endless amenities—eight dining establishments, indoor and outdoor year-round pools and the luxurious Relache Spa, to name a few—there’s a lot to take in at Gaylord Rockies.

And if you want to venture out, Aurora is brimming with fantastic off-site experiences.

Exploring the Grand Lodge at Gaylord Rockies Resort

Gaylord Rockies’ Grand Lodge greets guests in grand fashion with a 75-foot-tall atrium window framing gorgeous views of the Denver skyline and Rocky Mountains in the distance.

Shortly after arriving at the resort, we headed out on a property tour, taking in the fantastic locally inspired touches that give it a true sense of place.

Artwork created by local Colorado artists spotlights everything from colorful collage-style takes on native animals to a beautiful gold relief map of the Colorado mountains.

Bear Artwork on Display at Gaylord Rockies Resort, Credit: Lori Tenny
Local Artwork on Display at Gaylord Rockies, Credit: Lori Tenny

Cascading waterfalls over boulders are an ode to Colorado’s great outdoors, and lower-level elevators designed to look like old mine shafts pay tribute to Colorado’s gold rush era.

Inside Gaylord Rockies’ guest rooms, locally inspired art also prevails. Other Colorado elements include aspen tree carpets, lumberjack plaid-print pillows and hiking maps in the closets.

Food and drink offerings at the resort also showcase local flavors through partnerships with area vendors. Aurora’s Dry Dock Brewing Co. produces two exclusive beers for the resort: Grand Lodge Golden Ale and Pinons Pale Ale.

A Sparkling Convention Center Steals the Show

While the Gaylord Rockies Resort is impressive by itself, the true selling point for meeting planners is the Gaylord Rockies Convention Center.

The innovative convention facility features more than 486,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor spaces, beautifully designed to reflect Colorado’s heritage.

“Our convention center really sets us apart for groups,” French said. “One of the unique aspects is that our Aurora Ballroom is connected to our tradeshow exhibit space, and in addition, we have the Colorado Ballroom, the Adams Ballroom and the Juniper Ballroom."

“Our three outdoor areas [offer] amazing views of the Rocky Mountains,” she added.

Eight on-site culinary offerings, many of which have private dining facilities, run the gamut.

Pinyon Lobby Bar at Gaylord Rockies
Pinyon Lobby Bar at Gaylord Rockies

Gaylord Rockies’ varied food and beverage options include:

  • Mountain Pass, a sports bar with a 75-foot television screen, the largest in Colorado outside of a sports venue.
  • The Italian-inspired Vista Montana.
  • Old Hickory steakhouse, the resort’s signature restaurant.
  • Monte Jade, where our group dined on deliciously eclectic, Asian-inspired dishes with nods to Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine.

We also ventured off-property for a chock-full day to experience ever-evolving Aurora.

“Aurora truly is a destination on the rise,” said Randi Morritt, director of marketing for Visit Aurora, Colorado, pointing to major developments in the past two years that include the opening of Gaylord Rockies, Hyatt Regency Aurora-Denver and Stanley Marketplace.

Aurora’s Off-Site Options Give Groups Plenty to Do

We started the day of off-site exploration with a visit to Cherry Creek State Park, home to the Pelican Bay at Cherry Creek meeting and event venue. We indulged in a wonderful breakfast served by the owner of Comida food truck and then stepped onto the back patio overlooking the marina for a group experience presented by the nonprofit HawkQuest.

Handlers brought in an American eagle, a peregrine falcon, a hawk and an old barn owl, and HawkQuest Founder Kin Quitugua taught us about the important role birds of prey play in the ecosystem.

Man Holding an American Eagle at Pelican Bay at Cherry Creek, Credit Lori Tenny
Birds of Prey Demonstration at Pelican Bay at Cherry Creek, Credit Lori Tenny

Our meetings media group then checked out Southlands, known as “Aurora’s Main Street” and home to boutique shops, big-box stores and food and drink venues.

Stops included The Local, boasting unique Colorado-made artisan items that are ideal for attendee gifts, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for tastes of homemade fudge and truffles, and Wine Experience Cafe, featuring wine tastings and high-end group dining.

We also visited Bar Louie, offering rooftop group dining overlooking the main plaza, which is home to an ice-skating rink in winter and a concert series in summer, and Bent Barley Brewing Company, Aurora’s newest brewery, where we were treated to a tour and tasting.

[Related Content: 6 Hip Off-Site Experiences for Groups in Metro Denver]

We capped off the day at Stanley Marketplace, one of the coolest spots in town for an off-site event. The innovative community of 50-plus businesses work together to offer locals and visitors a place to eat, drink, work, play, learn, grow, gather and explore.

Stanley Marketplace Neon Sign
Stanley Marketplace Neon Sign, Credit: Lori Tenny

The marketplace also hosts events such as concerts and walking tours spotlighting the various businesses—from hip breweries, wine bars and restaurants to artisan shops.

Private event venues range from more intimate spaces to massive spots, such as The Hangar at Stanley, a former airplane hangar, and a five-acre field.

We took part in a fun teambuilding experience at Stanley Marketplace’s Create Cooking School, which involved the prepartion of a multicourse Mexican meal. During the program, our chef-instructor also helped us brush up on skills such as searing, roasting and sauteing.

Toasting to our homemade dinner and wonderful day exploring Aurora was the perfect way to end the evening.

Gaylord Rockies Contact Information

Gaylord Rockies Resort
& Convention Center

720.452.6900

Visit Aurora, Colorado
720.484.8902