In December, the Colorado Economic Development Commission granted $86.1 million of funding to Go NoCo, a nonprofit organization coordinating the development of four new tourism projects in Northern Colorado. The funds were awarded as part of Colorado’s Regional Tourism Act, a statewide initiative that provides funding for “extraordinary and unique” tourism projects expected to substantially increase out-of-state visitors to Colorado. It comes with significant strings attached, and Go NoCo will spend the next few months negotiating and finalizing the terms with the state and the projects’ developers.
If the projects are developed as planned, however, the Front Range will soon boast a variety of new attractions designed to appeal to families visiting the region. The planned PeliGrande Resort and Convention Center in Windsor, a four-star, 300-room golf resort, for example, would also include a luxury spa and a variety of conference and meeting amenities.
“Ultimately what the developer hopes is that the hotel will be the host for the PGA senior tour, that would be played on an existing course nearby,” says Patrick Brady, Go NoCo board president. “We don’t really have a combination resort-spa in Northern Colorado, and a lot of people do travel for golf tourism and bring their wives and families.”
Estes Park, already home of the legendary Stanley Hotel, would become the home of the Stanley Film Center. Go NoCo hopes the center will host horror film festivals, movie premieres, and be a draw for fans of the genre. Loveland, meanwhile, would gain both an indoor waterpark resort and an Olympic-caliber whitewater adventure park that is expected to appeal to out-of-state and local tourists alike.
A rendering of the proposed whitewater adventure park; courtesy of Go NoCo
The projects are designed to complement each other and allow everyone in the family to enjoy a visit to the area.
“You can’t just have the golf course, because if you bring your family, they need something to do,” says Brady. “But someone could go up to the film center in Estes, the kids could go to the water park resort.”
The funding approvals come at an opportune time—2014 was a record year for Colorado’s tourism industry. According to the Colorado Tourism Office, 71.3 million people visited the state in 2014 (the most recent numbers available), spending $18.6 billion dollars. Go NoCo estimates that the projects will bring an additional 423,000 new out-of-state visitors to the state, and millions of dollars of new tax revenue.
Colorado residents are also particularly active consumers of outdoor recreational activities like the type offered by the planned whitewater adventure park. Data from the Outdoor Industry Foundation indicates that almost 400,000 Colorado residents participate in paddling sports (like kayaking, rafting, and canoeing), numbers that are expected to increase as the state’s population growth continues.
The park would cater to both families and serious athletes hoping to extend their training season, which is typically brief in Colorado. “It extends an already good component of Colorado,” says Brady. “People could be kayaking in September.”