Gaylord Goes West
- Jun 23, 2011
June 23, 2011
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor
Gaylord Entertainment has selected High Point, a gargantuan master-planned business district being undertaken by LNR Property L.L.C.’s Commercial Property Investment Fund L.P. in Aurora, Colo., for its latest project. The hospitality and entertainment company will erect an $800 million resort and convention hotel on 85 acres at LNR’s sprawling development.
The hefty price tag reflects the enormity of the project. Gaylord Aurora will feature 1,500 luxury hotel guestrooms, exhibition and meeting space totaling 400,000 square feet and a variety of amenities. The property will also offer another highly coveted amenity: a good location. Overlooking the Rocky Mountains, Gaylord will sit less than 10 minutes from Denver International Airport and approximately 25 minutes east of downtown Denver.
The Aurora development will be Gaylord’s first resort and convention hotel west of the Lone Star State. “Our loyal customers who return over and over again to our existing properties have been telling us for some time that they would love to be able to replicate the Gaylord experience in a market in the Western region of the United States,” Colin V. Reed, chairman and CEO of Gaylord, noted in a prepared statement. “We believe that this is the perfect location for meeting that demand.”
But the source of that demand extends well beyond devoted Gaylord customers. Denver’s popularity as a convention destination is on the rise. “We had our best year last year,” Rich Grant, director of communications with Visit Denver, The Convention & Visitors Bureau, told CPE. “Denver is 340 miles from the exact center of the country and our airport is the fifth busiest in the U.S. We have all the things meeting planners are looking for–services, good weather, good access, nice facilities, low costs and a safe environment. Denver has one of the top 10 safest downtown areas in America.”
One of the factors that best distinguishes Denver from other big convention markets, he adds, is appeal. “Appeal is huge now because it’s what drives most people. It’s a differentiator.” And serving as the site of a major national event a few years ago enhanced the city’s profile. “We successfully hosted the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which gave us a lot of attention.”
With convention business on the upswing, the City of Aurora is onboard the Gaylord project. The City Council recently signed off on a financial package that includes tax incentives, but the developer and potential joint venture partners will supply the bulk of the funding for the endeavor.
Gaylord has tapped Hensel Phelps Construction Co. to serve as general contractor, and expects to break ground on Gaylord Aurora in mid-to-late 2012, with plans for a debut in mid-to-late 2015.