Say hello to what is now my favorite Denver hotel: the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center: big, beautiful and family friendly, while still catering to the business and meetings travelers. If you’re intrigued, go ahead and keep reading because Travel writer Diana Rowe has the scoop on the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado.
While the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center has been (somewhat) quietly open since December of 2018, this new Denver hotel celebrated its grand opening last month, debuting perhaps the most amazing hotel to open in the Mile High City in years. Yes, it is located at Denver International Airport, technically it’s physical address is actually in Aurora, a bustling metro city east of Denver.
For those unfamiliar with Denver Metro, this might seem an unlikely location, east of downtown and near the airport. However, the Gaylord Rockies Denver is actually nearly perfectly located to explore the Mile High City and also to road trip throughout Colorado. But let’s start first with the logistics.
For those that live in Denver, we rarely point our vehicles to DIA unless we are actually leaving the city. But trust me on this one. The Gaylord Rockies Resort gives you, your family, your significant other, and even your business a reason to go to the Denver airport, without actually flying anywhere. It’s a hotel, but really a hotel getaway vacation with all the perks, yet still close to home.
As the largest combined resort and convention center in Colorado, you’ll not miss this mammoth property located off Tower Road on the Pena Boulevard drive just 10 minutes from DIA and 15 minutes from downtown Denver.
With its more than 1500 rooms, massive convention center space, all on an 85-acre site, this is one of the largest resorts to debut under the Marriott International brand this past year.
Just two weeks before its soft opening, I participated in a hard-hat tour of the property, and the attention to detail and hyper-local Colorado approach to its design stood out to me. And the pre-opening view (above) taking from the reception area toward the Grand Lodge and the Rocky Mountains sealed the deal.
Arrival at the Gaylord Rockies Aurora
Only fitting that when entering the lobby and reception area, it is depictive of the massive but very classy Denver resort. Checking in was a breeze! (Be sure to use your Marriott Rewards Loyalty Program!)
I couldn’t resist taking another look down the grand staircase at the finished product of the Grand Lodge and its amazing view of the Rockies, just a few steps to the left of the reception desk. The beautiful native landscaping, cascading waterfalls over the boulders near the stairs, the water features of the “pond” in the middle, and then, of course, the Rockies view from its massive floor-to-vaulted-ceiling atrium windows (75-foot-tall at 8 stories high).
And that surprising nod to Colorado history, including an original rail car, and lots of places to sit and relax. On either side are the dining options (see more of this below).
Accommodations at the Gaylord Rockies Aurora
This was my first look at the accommodations offered at the Gaylord Rockies, as the rooms weren’t ready for preview during my hard-hat tour in November of last year. The valet escorted us to our room, heading back to the left for another look at the grand lobby area and continuing toward the other end of the hotel. Our room included a king size bed, sitting area, awesome bathroom, and a view over the entrance to the hotel.
This Gaylord offers a wide variety of guest rooms, ranging from standard to 114 suites and 14 presidential suites (massive 1,500 to 2,200 square feet!).
What I LOVE about the Gaylord Rockies’ accommodations is the iconic-Colorado interior design and decor with its aspen tree-inspired carpets, plaid print pillows, and hiking & camping maps in the closets (yes, the closets!).
Dining Options at the Gaylord Rockies
Another reason you’ll likely hunker down at the Gaylord Rockies upon check-in: it’s eight dining options.
- Old Hickory Steakhouse: signature restaurant with premium black Angus steak, seafood, and tableside desserts.
- Vista Montagne: Seasonal Italian cuisine, and also open for breakfast.
- Monte Jade: Sushi along with Asian inspired cuisine, open for dinner (partitioned off from the large breakfast space at Vista Montagne).
- Mountain Pass Sports Bar: lunch, dinner, and late-night. This restaurant had us at Colorado’s largest HDTV screen.
- Pinyons Lobby Bar: Late night cocktailing with views of the Rockies and the water features in the grand lobby.
- Rockies Marketplace: casual grab-and-go market.
- Cocoa Bean: sandwiches, salads & Starbucks coffee.
- In-Room Dining: Who doesn’t love room service?
During our recent visit, we were hosted in an event in its ginormous meeting space (486,000 square feet), but I did taste samplings of their tasty menus and was not disappointed.
We checked out the Mountain Pass Sports Bar, as March Madness games were playing and who could pass up an opportunity to watch all the games on their 75 foot HDTV screen. (Not my husband!) Although I wasn’t impressed with their food (I had to send my raw hamburger back three times), I was impressed with ambiance and my husband loved the recliners in front of the huge HDTV screen.
Sunday morning brunch buffet was also one of our favorites at the Vista Montagne.
Amenities & Resort Fees at Gaylord Rockies
If there’s one thing to note that might be troublesome to guests, it’s those pesky resort fees, and Gaylord Rockies does tack that on at a whopping $23 per day (plus tax).
There is a lot of worthwhile complimentary amenities bundled into these resort fees: High-Speed WiFi, local and domestic long-distance phone calls, hotel bicycles, ski storage, bottled water in-room, scheduled shuttle service at commuter rail station (see below), access to Arapahoe Springs Resort Pool & Lazy River, afternoon treat, daily fitness calls and center access, and more.
For families, the resort fee may be a bit easier to swallow simply for the resort pool and lazy river. For that reason alone, I will return with my grandkids / multigenerational family just to take advantage of the pool amenities, and that’s 22,000-square-feet of aquatic experiences including the indoor and outdoor pools, lazy river and three waterslides! In addition, there is an arcade, miniature golf, tennis, and pickleball, so the kids will not be bored even if you never leave the resort.
Another amenity worth mentioning is the Relache Spa & Salon, a European style spa with 17 treatment rooms. I’m intrigued by its ice fountain to cool off before and after sauna or steam time, and perhaps another solid reason to return.
How to get to the Gaylord Rockies
If you’re landing at DIA, simply take the Commuter light rail to the resort’s nearby stop at 61st and Peña and then take the complimentary shuttle service to the resort. The Gaylord has an on-site Hertz rental option.
Drive: Rent a car at DIA and then drive 10 minutes to resort. The Gaylord is just a 30-minute drive to downtown Denver. From my west metro location near Golden, it’s about a 40-minute drive. BUT Parking will cost you! Self-Parking is $29 plus tax, while Valet is $39 plus tax.
Read More about Gaylord Properties:
DISCLAIMER: Gaylord Rockies Resort provided accommodations for my review; opinions expressed are my own. Photo Credits: Gaylord Rockies Resort & Diana Rowe.