Opened in 2008, Sundance Mountain Lodge in Monument sits on five acres, nestled among trees, with panoramic views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range. Owner Gary Oakley renovated a hotel, creating an eco-friendly destination resort, designed with natural log and stone accents, to feel like a ski lodge — but with modern amenities.
Located just east of Interstate 25 near the Monument exit, the resort is a popular location for retreats, reunions, weddings and business meetings. In addition, the bistro serves continental breakfast and dinner — such as Colorado-raised ribeye, grilled Ahi tuna, and gnocchi gorgonzola — and offers live music Wednesdays and Saturdays for locals and tourists.
Sundance has five 12,000-square-foot buildings: a central structure with a 3,200-square-foot ballroom and Oakley’s Café and Bistro, plus four guest-room buildings with a total of 120 rooms, set around a courtyard, pool, duck pond, waterfall, bridges, outdoor fire rings and walking paths.
The resort has grown significantly, with revenue increasing about 34 percent each year.
A second-generation Colorado native, Oakley has been a photojournalist and event photographer around the world for 17 years, primarily at high-end weddings — a job he describes as physically and psychologically demanding, “a young man’s job.”
Thus the idea for the lodge, named for a nearby mountain, came from Oakley’s desire to make an event venue and earn a living when he’s no longer able to travel weekends to distant locales.
Oakley describes the lodge’s character and feel as independent.
“We’re not cookie-cutter. We’re green and retro and mountainy — a little unorthodox,” he added.
In keeping with Sundance’s tagline, “Up here, we do things a little differently,” prices are reasonable, service is friendly, the ballroom has natural light, walls are adorned with artwork from local artists, and food is organic, fair trade and locally sourced when possible.
In addition, Sundance won the 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, was nominated for Best Lodging at the Colorado Springs Tourism Awards and is a member of the Green Hotel Association.
Oakley hopes that guests get inspired when they visit, from the views, walking paths, balconies and numerous details, designed to give people the unique experience of Colorado, yet easily accessible to the interstate — with the feeling of being in the mountains.
“Coloradans are into art, the environment and things being done differently — not a sterile or homogenous world,” Oakley said.
“We have hand-troweled walls, artistic touches, balconies for open air — all the things and charm that make Colorado special.”