When you imagine the vibe of a casino, what comes to mind? Perhaps the flashy lights and pulsating sounds of slot machines intermingled among clusters of blackjack and poker tables come to focus. That’s certainly the scene on the second level of the newly revamped 23-story Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk, but as for the rest of the hotel, it would be easy to forget you’re staying at a casino resort.
Decorative wall art portraying monarch butterflies creatively displayed throughout the property is a gentle nod to the incredible $400 million transformation that this longtime Black Hawk casino underwent in recent years. In March 2022, the new hotel was unveiled with more than 60,000 square feet of casino gaming space, 516 rooms and suites, five restaurants, an inviting rooftop pool, and a luxurious spa. With numerous casinos tucked into the canyon communities of Black Hawk and neighboring Central City, we were curious to see how this newest casino makeover was measuring up so we made the 45-minute drive from Denver to visit.
While it’s hard to go wrong with any of Monarch’s chic, modern mountain-style rooms, we highly recommend upgrading to a luxuriously appointed Spa Suite, equipped with a jetted spa tub for two, a spacious floor plan, and the added amenities of VIP check-in. The suite upgrade also grants guests access to an exclusive 20th floor Concierge Lounge to enjoy afternoon cocktails and complimentary hors d’oeuvres and continental breakfast.
By all means, those interested in taking a gamble can step into all the action on the second-floor casino hosting more than 1,000 slots, all the table games one would expect (baccarat, poker, blackjack, craps or roulette anyone?), Keno, a sportsbook lounge, and a first-class poker room. When ready for a nosh break, guests can grab a Colorado craft beer, burger, savory appetizer and even breakfast at Twenty Four 7, the resort’s restaurant open around the clock.
Those looking for a more serene experience will find it up on the property’s top level where lounging is welcomed at the indoor infinity pool, outdoor sundeck, hot tub and inviting fire pits. The ultimate relaxation retreat however is found adjacent at Spa Monarch where guests can decompress in the soothing atmosphere of the Laconium Lounge, which features comfortable contoured seating in a pleasantly warmed environment without the extensive heat of a sauna. Along with an extensive menu of treatments, the spa offers several calming amenities, including herbal steam rooms, a Mountain Stone Bath sauna, a brine inhalation and light therapy lounge to enhance respiratory well-being, and a co-ed Experiential Shower simulating tropical rain, waterfall, ice fog, snowflakes, and thunder and infused with restorative essential oils.
For dinner, Monarch offers two elegant options. Bistro Mariposa is unlike a typical Southwestern-style restaurant. Focusing on Pan-Latin cuisine with influences from the Dominican Republic, Baja Mexico, and Cuba, the bistro serves adventurous fare in a vivacious setting. For an elevated experience, reserve a table at Monarch Chophouse and prepare to enjoy incredible steaks, fresh seafood, tableside-prepared salads and a selection of more than 300 wines amid a sophisticated, romantic ambiance complemented by exceptionally polished service.
Now that the renovation dust has settled at this mountain resort, it’s an excellent time to visit—even if you’re not into gaming and wagering. Admittedly, I am not much of a gambling person myself, but I am willing to bet that Monarch Casino Resort Spa will exceed your expectations.
Dine & Drink
To whet your appetite for the eclectic Pan-Latin flavors at Bistro Mariposa, start with the Queso Fundido—a piquant flavor-forward cheese appetizer featuring Spanish chorizo, Hatch chile, wild mushroom, and a subtle hint of porcini dust. Next up: tacos, served on house-made handpressed blue corn tortillas with your choice of filling: carne asada, squash and wild mushroom, crispy striped bass, chicken al pastor, cola de langosta (butter poached lobster) and cochinita pibil (marinated pork). If you’re a fan of chili rellenos, you must try Bistro Mariposa’s take on the dish, which features a stuffed poblano pepper, porcini, charred corn, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa roja. Wash it all down with one of the specialty margaritas with house-infused tequilas. We recommend the blood orange concoction—the fruit brings a flavorful twist to a traditional marg without adding too much sweetness.
Top off your stay with a visit to the spa, a serene refuge enveloped by Rocky Mountain views on the hotel’s top floor. The menu features a variety of indulgent wellness treatments including facials and skin care, invigorating exfoliation treatments, rejuvenating body wraps and detoxifying scrubs, as well as a slew of massages. For what’s perhaps the definitive experience, opt for the Gemstone Signature Massage, which begins with a full-body dry brush exfoliation to promote healthy blood flow and remove dead-skin impurities. It’s followed by a customized massage enhanced with gemstone oil and incorporating Himalayan salt stones targeting especially tensed muscles. The treatment finishes off with a blissful oil scalp massage to transport you to a state of utmost relaxation.