Have you ever been somewhere that is so stunning and inspiring that you can’t help but fall head over heels in love with it? Ashley and I recently experienced just that feeling at a gorgeous luxury resort that sat at the convergence of five towering red rock canyons. If you can summon up that mental image and multiply its movie-esk beauty by 10 you'll begin to understand why we left our hearts in Colorado’s Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa. Or better yet, just keep scrolling to follow the two of us as we find out why Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa is the perfect place to tie the knot!
So What is this place again?
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa is the worlds first and only discovery resort. What does that mean? This luxury venue was founded by John Hendricks, the founder and former chairman of Discovery Communications (the parent company of Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and many more), to say he enjoys to learn is a bit of an understatement. So when you have 6,000 acres of natural splendor to explore via helicopter, UTV, horseback, mountain bike, or on foot of course it will inspire one's adventurous side. Oh and did I mention its also home to the highest concentration of dinosaur fossils on the planet? Every single day at Gateway Canyons is like staring in your own IRL Discovery Channel show!
And that's just what lays outside your door. You may never want to leave you room as the accommodation at Gateway will leave you wanting for nothing. Stepping into our rooms at the Kayenta Lodge, Ashley and I could hardly believe how plush they were. Outfitted in sturdy lodge like furnishing that gave way to cushy pillow top beds, over stuffed couches and an electric fireplace to keep you cozy all night long, the space practically had us forgetting about the world outside. And as soon as we saw the gigantic soaker tubs that came in both of our rooms we were happy to set up camp in our spa-like bathrooms! Trust me, there is no better way to sooth aching muscles after a day of horseback riding or hiking then in a bath tub that makes even my 5'9" frame feel tiny floating in its bubble filled depths.
Once we managed to peel our eyes off the room amenities we wondered out on to the balcony and had to once again pick our jaws up off the floor. Each room enjoys a 180 degree view of the 360 degree spectacle that are the surrounding Old Western film style red rock mesas. We made the outstanding decision to order room service and eat it next to the fire bowl on the balcony while we watched the sunrise set the view aglow. Can you say romantic?!... err, well it will be for you and your honey. Ashley may be my work wife, but she is already spoken for.
While we were basking in the plutonic romance of the morning we noticed just how private the resort felt, like we had the whole place to ourselves. When we brought up this fact with one of our hosts she smiled and assured us the resort was nearly all booked up. In case you were wondering, that's 38 king or double queen rooms at the Kiva Lodge, 20 apartment-esk units at the Kayenta Lodge and the 14 multi bedroom home away from home style Palisade Casitas! Just imagine the kind of wedding party bash you could have by booking a few rooms... or even all of the resort!
Speaking of Weddings!
There is absolutely a limitless number of locations for you to say "I do" at Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa! Ashley and I didn't get to witness any, although we did happen to hear about an elopement that was taking place at the resort the weekend we were there. Another one of our wonderful hosts was helping this mystery couple tie the knot at the top of one of the towering mesas that over looked the resort. They said "I do" just as the sun was setting and cut their cake and enjoyed a wedding dinner under the stars!!! Um, how amazing does that sound!
Not feeling quite that adventurous? Still wanting the big classic wedding? You could say your nuptials on the manicured lawn with the Palisade Mesa as your backdrop. Then for your formal dinner reception, Gateway's Executive Chef Stephen Belie can serve up a fusion of fresh seafood, regional meats and locally sourced produce for you and your guests. Or maybe you are looking for a rehearsal dinner on the patio of the Entrada Restaurant complete with wine parings. We were treated to both and it is safe to say there wasn't a single meal that the two or us walked away from not feeling completely pampered.
Depending on your event size and the boundaries of your imagination you can say get married just about anywhere at Gateway. Poolside? Sure. Open air Amphitheater? Of course! On horseback? Oh that reminds me... Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa also has a Ranch!
So about those Horses...
Are you an experienced equestrian? Are you new to the whole idea of sitting on top of an animal that big? Do you fall somewhere in between? Palisade Ranch will thrill any and all skill levels. With trail rides, cowboy lessons, and even an old fashioned cattle drive you can really let your rustic side run wild! So pull on your boots and saddle up your bridesmaids your Western wedding is bound to be epic.
As horseback riding novices, Ashley and I were thrilled to get the chance to hit the trails on top of the worlds friendliest (Ashley would argue mine was the worlds most flatulent) horses. Our ranch hands Ross and Shelby introduced us to each of our horses, giving us a quick overview of their personalities and basic commands and then it was off into the wild blue yonder... or rather single file through the rugged scenery.
I Like My Horses Gas Powered
Do you crave a revving engine and miles of pavement snaking through breathtaking canyons? My my my, then you are in luck, Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa just happens to have a luxury fleet of high-performance vehicles that their Driven Experience allows guests the chance to slip behind the wheel of. So whether you want to take a Bentley Supersport for a spin through the canyons and arrive to your reception in style, or off-road to your hidden proposal sight in a Pro-Bajo racing truck, there is a whole lot of sleek and shiny horsepower contained under the Driven Experience roof.
Honestly I don't know a thing about cars, but I do love a sparkling paint job with some history, and the Gateway Canyons Auto Museum has that in spades! 50 gorgeously restored cars spanning the years of 1906 to 1970 sit on display at the Auto Museum which is mere steps away from the lobby and is free to all Gateway guests.
These American automotive treasures began as the resort founder John Hendricks's personal collection, and includes a one-of-a-kind 1954 Oldsmobile F-88. Not sure what that means? Not to worry, You can read all about this dream car and it's history as its golden paint job sparkles on its rotating pedestal beside you. From 1950's muscle cars to elegant autos straight from the scenes of Downton Abbey, this awesome exhibit is a must see!
Slow Down The Pace
Cars are great and they make for a show stopping conversation piece at your wedding, but let's not forget about the excitingly rugged natural world that surrounds Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa. There is tons to see and do while you and your wedding guests are here, and not to pick favorites, but Ashley and I are going to have to say that Zebulon Miracle, the Curator of Curiosity was our favorite part of this fabulous weekend.
What's a Zebulon? Zeb is basically Gateways own Indiana Jones, as he spends his days guiding guests of Gateway through the area's desert landscape describing the ancient natives that once lived in the area and left behind little else but petroglyphs to remember them by. He is also known to spins tales of Uranium mining camps of the 1940's and Miss Atomic pageants of the 1950's on your ride out to see fossilized dinosaur tracks that he happened to find one rainy day. Zeb knows the history and geological makeup of this unique place but he also has an insane knowledge of the night skies as well. How cool would it be to gather your guests around for a personal tour of the swirling stars above your heads. Trust us, it's pretty freakin' cool!