There’s a short but important list in my Notes app that just has names in it. Not baby names, or names of remote beaches, or names of books I’d like to read – though I have had all of those lists at one time in my life. This list consists of family-friendly resorts that check all the boxes: comfortable accommodations, close to nearby attractions and recreation, good food, plenty of amenity – in short, a stay that’s both fun for kids of all ages and the perfect place for parents to rest and recoup as needed.
Top of the list? Colorado’s Front Range gem, Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, a mere 20 minutes from the Denver International Airport. An unusually divergent mountain resort, this lodge leaves behind your typical alpine animal motif theme in favor of stunning views, a world-class spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, 1,500 well-appointed guestrooms and suites, eight distinct dining options and a trio of casual to upscale watering holes. The piece de resistance? Arapahoe Springs Water Park – an exclusive amenity for resort guests.
Truth be told, the aerial photo of the Gaylord Rockies on its home page was as far as I needed to go when searching online for the ideal Colorado locale for an easy family vacation. While the impressive image captures the scale of this resort, it simply doesn’t do justice to everything this sprawling property has to offer. Upon arrival, the grandeur of it all can be a bit overwhelming and it took our family a few minutes to get our bearings and orient ourselves.
Our teens wanted to immediately investigate the aquatic offerings while my husband and I went in search of something to eat. No mean feat for both parties as Arapahoe Springs is an extensive indoor/outdoor attraction of enclosed and open waterslides, indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools and a heated lazy river that meanders throughout the expanse of the grounds. For our part, we had our work cut out for us in deciding between Italian fare, a casual burger, sushi (my pick) or steak (his choice). The good news? We had all weekend to explore the environs, sample the culinary offerings and because the temperature outside hovered in the low 80s, literally spend more time on or in the water than I can remember in recent memory.
Stay + Play
With picturesque views of the Rocky Mountains, the resort’s charming guest rooms feature the mountain aesthetic, while the suite experience offers spacious sleeping and sitting areas with plenty of space to spread out.
Your stay includes access to an array of complimentary activities including mini golf, pickle ball, tennis, basketball, fitness class, family movie night, live animal encounters and even an augmented reality wildlife rescue experience.
For an additional fee, guests can partake in the “Summer of More” programs including Junior Chef’s cooking classes, Pirate and Princess-themed activities, campfire and s’mores, escape room adventures, dive-in movies, buccaneer pool parties, private poolside cabana rentals and wine or sake tastings.
The private poolside cabana is the perfect “home base” for the morning, afternoon or the entire day to cool off in the shade, enjoy amazing views of the Rocky Mountains, take a break from water play to watch your favorite show or sports and order food and beverage service from the Arapahoe Springs Bar & Grill.
A world-class 14,000-square-foot European style Relache Spa & Spa is billed as the “ultimate sensory retreat” with good reason. Awarded Four Stars by Forbes Travel Guide, the ambiance here is nothing short of luxurious where services range from a destressing massage and calming body therapy to rejuvenating facials.
Before we arrived, we had every intention of driving into Denver, seeking out nearby hiking trails, renting bicycles to tool around town, etc. But with only a weekend away, we decided the Mile High City would have to wait while we took full advantage of this unique “everything under one roof” experience. As it turns out, the Gaylord Rockies Resort has its own list. Stay. Play. Indulge. Check, check, check. Whatever is easy – whatever brings the family together.