Gaylord Resort

The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center near the Denver International Airport is opening to the public on December 18. . Wednesday, December 12, 2018. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

The Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center plans to grow by more than 20% as part of an $80 million, 317-room expansion.

The Aurora-based hotel will begin construction in the second quarter of 2020, according to this week’s announcement, and the expansion will be finalized in early 2022. Once complete, the 85-acre resort will offer more than 1,800 rooms.

The project mirrors similar expansions at the Gaylord Texan and Gaylord Palms, said Ira Mitzner, head of Houston-based RIDA Development, which will oversee the project. With more rooms, the resort and conference center will allow for the accommodation of additional demand for this property in a way that “seamlessly integrates” into the hotel’s current infrastructure.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman said the facility is one of the city’s most significant accomplishments and a major driver of its economy, helping the city make a name for itself.

“When we look at the economic development success story here, it’s clear that it is a win-win for everyone involved especially for our residents, who now have the opportunity of more than 1,500 quality jobs and counting that were created through this deal,” he said in a statement.

The Gaylord Rockies opened in December 2018, just south of Denver International Airport, but not without challenges.

“It was a rough voyage, especially at the beginning,” Mitzner told The Denver Post shortly before it opened. The $800 million private project was funded by public dollars, including $300 million from Aurora and more than $81 million from the state.

Some of the obstacles the resort faced along the way included three lawsuits, a bill in the Legislature intending to end the project, and demands for a state audit of its incentives. The expansion will be financed by the joint venture that owns Gaylord Rockies with additional borrowings from its term loan, which is set to mature in July 2023. Ryman, a Nashville-based real estate investment trust, owns about 62% of the joint venture.

Altogether, Ryman owns four upscale, meetings-focused resorts totaling more than 8,000 rooms, which are managed by Marriott International under the Gaylord Hotels brand. Ryman Hospitality Properties also owns and operates media and entertainment assets, including the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.

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