Gateway Canyons Resort, Colorado

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Spa treatment under the Palisade rock formation

Where can your clients go ATVing through canyons; take a shot at archery or skeet shooting; go in search of dinosaur tracks; take a tour of an auto museum; get a spa treatment and arrive at their moon-lit dinner on horseback all in one day? If you said Gateway Canyons Resort in Colorado, you get double the commission next time you book there—well, not really, but now that I have your attention, this American West resort is the ultimate destination for travelers looking to fill their days and nights with adventurous excursions and indulgent comforts.

“The activities offered at Gateway Canyons would be a great fit for the luxury traveler,” says Cassandra Bookholder, CTA, Camelback Odyssey Travel, A Virtuoso Travel Office, “as many want to embrace the destination they’re in. They will return home feeling refreshed, reinvigorated and have great memories.”

John Hendricks, Discovery Channel founder, is the man behind Gateway Canyons Resort, part of the Noble House Hotels & Resorts collection. The resort he has built and pours so much passion into—we met him when we visited the resort earlier this year, so we saw first-hand his genuine love for this property and the surrounding area—is truly in a class all its own. What Bookholder says about returning home feeling reinvigorated and refreshed is spot on. The myriad activities, the accommodations, and the genuine service—every person who works at the resort is there because they love it—not to mention the jaw-dropping landscape will leave any traveler, no matter how well-heeled and discerning, in a state of Nirvana (and they won’t even have had to have a spa treatment, although we do recommend it). Hendricks himself says that no place moves and inspires him like Gateway Canyons, and the reason he built a resort here in 2005 was to share the breathtaking destination with others.

“Hendricks wants to educate people, but in a fun and enlightening way,” says Eric Gavin, v.p. of marketing, Noble House Hotels & Resorts. “He wants to enrich the mind, body and soul. So mind—it’s that intellectual stimulation where you can learn about the area’s geological characteristics and the dinosaur era; and then physically—all of the amenities we have here, whether it’s horseback riding, ATV experiences, archery, shooting; and then it’s the emotional, spiritual and if you can’t find your spiritual Zen here, I don’t know where you’re going to find it. It’s as remote as you’re going to find. The cell service while we have it, it’s not the best and that’s intentional. Escape life. Relax.”

Even arriving at the resort, which recently received a $100 million expansion all while keeping the preservation of the environment in mind, is an adventure in itself if clients opt to take a Gateway Canyons Air Tours’ 1-hour Gateway Canyons Resort Tour on board the 7-passenger Cessna Caravan. The Cessna glides over the canyon landscape under piercing blue skies on its way to the resort, located in Unaweep Canyon, one of the most unique red rock canyons in the world. It is said to be the only canyon in the world that is drained by two creeks—East Creek and West Creek, sending water off in opposite directions. Picture-perfect; surreal; dreamlike—those are some of the descriptions that come to mind as the Cessna lands on the resort’s airstrip and one finds oneself completely embraced by a spectacular and vast panorama where nature in all its magnificence is the star attraction.

When Rudy Sharp, v.p. and managing director of Gateway Canyons Resort, first arrived in the area he says he was struck by “how amazing and not translatable to photos or videos the environment is. I realized what an amazing place this is, and the power and beauty of nature. It’s very humbling.”

go discover…it’s what you do here
Exploring the landscape is the main event here, but it’s how these excursions are presented that truly differentiates this resort from others that are adventure-driven. Through the resort’s Curiosity Adventures program, guests can hang out with resident curiosity experts who lead them in a series of daily, hands-on workshops and discussions on subjects such as stargazing—imagine seeing Saturn’s rings in detail—geology, dinosaurs and Native American history. During our visit, the amount of information we took in was mind-blowing. Keep in mind, the man who built the resort is the founder of the Discovery Channel—it doesn’t get any more intense than this if your clients are truly curious about the world around them.

“We have a strong orientation to learning and discovery with our Curiosity Adventures program,” says Sharp. “We integrate the opportunity to learn new and exciting things within the adventure activities. [Guests can] learn first hand with our experts with discussions on the solar system and then go out into the field with a telescope and expert, or [learn about] the amazing fossil record in the area, or culturally significant areas such as the architectural wonder of the ‘hanging flume.’ We currently have over 100 experts we utilize to help us tell the story of the planet and this amazing environment.”

Then there’s the physical component. Forget the onsite gym, although there is one, it’s playing with nature that truly gets the heart pumping here. Sharp points out that, “It would take at a minimum three days to start touching the surface of all Gateway Canyons has to offer. From riding on horseback to ATVs, to mountain biking, rock climbing, river rafting [on the Dolores River] and fly fishing, in addition to helicopter tours…the list of adventures just goes on and on. And I haven’t even mentioned our amazing spa or restaurants. Gateway Canyons is also a great place to set up base camp as you explore some of the great national parks and monuments in the area.