Travel Westword: How to Spend a Staycation at Gaylord Rockies Resort | Westword

Travel Westword: Enjoy a Staycation at Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center

Gaylord Rockies Resort is the perfect spot for your next weekend trip if you're not looking to stray too far from home. Mile one begins at Mile High.
Just outside the Embers Lodge Bar is the Grand Lodge, where guests can enjoy games and fire pits.
Just outside the Embers Lodge Bar is the Grand Lodge, where guests can enjoy games and fire pits. Katrina Leibee
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This installation of Travel Westword is presented by Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center. Prefer a video experience? Watch our Instagram Reel about Gaylord Rockies.

A family staycation, girls' weekend or an overnight stay before an early flight all present perfect opportunities to make your way to the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center. Located adjacent to Denver International Airport in Aurora, this 1.9 million-square-foot resort and convention space caters to just about any lodging or entertainment desire.

The resort just underwent a multimillion-dollar expansion and now houses over 1,300 rooms and more than 100 suites. Guests can wander through the massive Grand Lodge, the Arapahoe Springs Water Park, numerous restaurants and bars or the convention center. And don't forget the state-of-the-art fitness center and spa.

Started in mid-2023, the expansion includes a handful of new dining options: the Embers Lodge Bar, the Fortunate Prospector pub, the Copper Table and Garden & Grain, as well as a [re-conceptualized] Old Hickory Steakhouse. Also new is the Mountain View Pavilion event space.

“It has been incredibly rewarding to see guests enjoy the whimsical legend of Earl, the iconic bighorn sheep, and face of the Fortunate Prospector. They also praise our traditional English fare and the stunning panoramic mountain views at Embers Lodge Bar,” says Andi Lawley, public relations manager for Gaylord Rockies.

The Gaylord has been in Aurora since 2018, but if you visited before the recent expansion, a trip to see all its new features is well worth it.

Arriving at Gaylord Rockies

You can see the Gaylord Rockies Resort from miles away. The massive building is easy to spot on your way out to the airport, welcoming you to a cozy stay for a weekend or a night.
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The view when you step inside the Gaylord Rockies can't be beat.
Katrina Leibee

The staff at the Gaylord were wonderful. The valet and check-in processes were seamless, with a helping hand and a warm welcome at every turn. The receptionists answered all of my questions about the resort, made my dinner reservations, and walked me through a map of the place (it’s easy to get lost in there).

Despite how large the hotel is, you still feel a cozy, intimate ambience upon entering. My room for the night was gorgeous, with a view of the outdoor grand lodge from the balcony, and the perfect setup to relax and get some work done before diving into the resort’s many amenities.

Relaxing at the Arapahoe Springs Water Park

I arrived at the Gaylord Rockies at noon on a Friday, and for the next twelve hours until I finally went to bed, I was busy with everything the resort had to offer. With so much to do and see, the day truly flew by.

The Arapahoe Springs Water Park is a must-do activity for anyone staying at the Gaylord. I enjoyed the pool, hot tub and built-in lazy river within the park. I rented a private cabana for the day, which came fully stocked with chairs, towels, a flat-screen TV and a complimentary bucket of drinks. The cabana allowed me to relax in the shade while staying right in the center of the water park. The Gaylord's food and beverage service offered some of the best poolside food and drinks I’ve ever had.
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The 720-foot-long lazy river includes this waterfall.
Katrina Leibee
I sipped on a frozen strawberry daiquiri and piña colada from the bar. The staff and amenities truly make you feel like you’ve entered a tropical resort, when you’re really just outside of Denver.

I spent a few hours at the 720-foot-long lazy river, bathing under the sun and letting the time pass by as the Colorado breeze pushed me along in the heated year-round outdoor pool.

Dinner at the Fortunate Prospector and Drinks at the Embers Lodge Bar

After a day at Arapahoe Springs, I got ready for dinner at one of the hotel’s many restaurants. The Fortunate Prospector, the hotel’s new traditional English pub, was a unique dining experience. The restaurant is fully designed and decorated to transport you to an English pub setting, and the menu offers such items as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, as well as an extensive beer menu.

The service at the Fortunate Prospector was some of the best I’ve experienced at a restaurant, with the staff answering all my questions about the menu items and the history of the Gaylord and its decision to add a British pub.

“The Fortunate Prospector was envisioned by Colin Reed, the executive chairman of ownership group, Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc.," Lawley says. "Reed, who grew up in England, was inspired by his memories of the traditional English pubs where he shared laughter, lively conversations and camaraderie with friends, and he wanted to bring this experience to life at Gaylord Rockies."

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The Fortunate Prospector restaurant offers traditional English food and atmosphere just forty minutes from downtown Denver.
Katrina Leibee

I ended the meal with a strawberry shortcake scone, served with the most delicious strawberry gelato, chantilly cream and a flaky, buttery scone.

After dinner, I wandered next door to the Embers Lodge Bar. Tucked inside the resort's Grand Lodge, this bar is a gathering place for business folk having a pre-flight drink or winding down after a business conference, as well as adults looking to relax after a busy day at the resort.

I indulged in a spicy coconut margarita, made with Lalo tequila, Rumhaven coconut rum, lime juice, agave nectar and firewater tincture. The smoky, nutty cocktail was the perfect nightcap, and I enjoyed it in the hotel’s gorgeous setting and comfy lounge area.

Ending the Night at the Grand Lodge

I couldn’t head up for the night without doing one of my favorite things. I stopped by the hotel’s marketplace and grabbed a s’mores kit and some roasting sticks. People gather around the fire pits outside at the Grand Lodge to end their evenings. During the day, cornhole and outside games keep guests active.
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Guests enjoying a nightcap at the Embers Lodge Bar.
Katrina Leibee

Roasting s’mores with the backdrop of the gorgeous hotel may have been my favorite part of the stay. With plenty of space and seating, I chatted with other guests while sitting by the fire, and enjoyed the community and connection that the resort fosters, a perfect end to a day at Gaylord Rockies.

An Unforgettable Staycation

My stay at the Gaylord Rockies was definitely something I’d do again. The hospitality and service were world-class, and I can’t think of a better place to relax, wind down and enjoy a long weekend so close to home.

Right now, Colorado residents can use the code L9Z for up to 20 percent off an overnight stay, while all guests can use the code ES7 for a resort credit of up to $50 per night, a s’mores kit and overnight self-parking.
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