Colorado’s historic Broadmoor Hotel has something for everyone
Posted on May 28, 2019
I treasure hotels with history, destinations that have evolved over the decades, blending traditions with trends so that new, as well as older, generations of travelers feel welcome and engaged. That may mean changing with the times — refurbishing and reimagining — but without sacrificing what made the hotel special in the first place. In other words, it’s vital to retain the property’s soul. Such is the case with The Broadmoor, the Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond resort in Colorado Springs.
The sprawling, 5,000-acre property offers accommodations that range from elegantly appointed suites and public spaces in the original hotel (Broadmoor Main) and its “younger sister” (Broadmoor West) to more rustic lodging in the resort’s three experiential camps. The five-bedroom Estate House (which seats 60 for dinner in the grand parlor) is popular for weddings and other special events; brownstones and cottages offer additional room for families and friends. Add the resort’s ten restaurants (including the top-rated, fine dining Penrose Room), ten lounges and cafes, an award-winning spa, three golf courses, golf and tennis clubs, an outdoor infinity pool — and need we say more?
In homage to its western roots, the Broadmoor offers three nearby “Wilderness Experience” properties, combining outdoor activities and excursions with indoor luxury. Cloud Camp, high atop Cheyenne Mountain, is a magical hideaway; Fly Fishing Camp offers private guides along a pristine stretch of the Tarryall River; and The Ranch at Emerald Valley is a rustic retreat with a main lodge and cabins. The camps provide hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, as well as three- and four-course meals, and, of course, s’mores around the fire.
The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure in South Cheyenne Canyon is ranked among the top ten zip line courses in the world. Here, guests “fly” high above treetops and outcroppings along lines that stretch from 250 to 1,800 feet, offering incomparable views. While guides provide hands-on instruction, this experience is NOT for the faint of heart. However, work through your initial fear (as I did), and it could be the thrill ride of your life. Afterward, walk the 224 steps (0.8 miles) to the bottom of Seven Falls, the cascading series of waterfalls called “The Grandest Mile of Scenery in Colorado.” (You can also climb up those steps to hike trails along a winding stream.) Stop at the rustic Restaurant 1858, a Gold Rush-themed eatery at the base of the falls to warm up or chill out, depending on the season. And be sure to sample Colorado’s Rocky Mountain trout.
I also learned about the ancient sport of falconry with “Bird Lady” Deanna Curtis, a premier master falconer who introduced me to magnificent birds of prey, including Harris’s hawks, saker falcons, and a wide-eyed Eurasian eagle-owl. During a small group encounter in the mews, where the birds are housed, Curtis shared the sport’s royal roots and then took us outside for a flight demonstration. We watched in awe as a falcon swooped low overhead, nailing a perfect landing on Curtis’ gloved arm.
The Broadmoor’s history is as captivating as the guests who have stayed here, including presidents and prime ministers, moguls and movie stars, top athletes and coaches. Olympic ice skating star Peggy Fleming, for example, trained at the famed Broadmoor Ice Palace (later renamed The Broadmoor World Arena), which was the setting for ice shows and hockey games. But no one, arguably, has been more colorful than the resort’s founder, Spencer Penrose, considered the black sheep of a wealthy Philadelphia family, the fourth of six accomplished brothers. (As the story goes, Spencer was admitted to Harvard, graduating dead last in his class.) Penrose moved out west to pursue (his own) fortune and fame. He found both, striking it very rich in mining, milling, and railroads. Known as a playboy, he eventually settled down, marrying Julie Lewis McMillan, a widowed socialite from a prominent Detroit family. Together they became well known in civic and social circles, and created a legacy of philanthropy.
Penrose became the “biggest builder and promoter that the Pikes Peak region has ever seen,” according to “The Broadmoor Story,” a history marking the resort’s 2018 centennial. The property, once the site of a failing casino, became a world-class destination thanks to Penrose’s wealth, vision, and a considerable flair for promotion. In 1920, he hired private train cars to bring 60 hoteliers from the east for a two-week vacation at his new resort out west. Penrose entertained the group, later known as the “The Hundred Million Dollar Hotel Club” (roughly equivalent to their combined net worth), with sumptuous dinners and drinks (despite Prohibition), golf, biplane rides, polo matches, and motor car trips up the winding road to Pike’s Peak. Penrose had built the 20-mile-long road a few years earlier, following an old carriage route, heralded as “the highest highway in the world.” Soon after the road’s completion, he founded what is now called The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, the second oldest U.S. motorsports competition after the Indianapolis 500. If you can’t attend the event’s 97th running on June 30, be sure to visit the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Experience at the resort’s Penrose Heritage Museum, where race cars are on display along with a collection of vintage carriages.
The Broadmoor continues to evolve since its purchase in 2011 by businessman Philip Anschutz and his family, only the third owners in the resort’s 100-year history, rare in an era of corporate consolidation. Anschutz began visiting the resort when he was five years old, he writes in “The Broadmoor Story,” and by the age of ten, he wanted to buy it. Decades later, he did. Anschutz seems committed to making sure the storied resort lasts well into the next century and beyond for new — as well as older — generations to enjoy. 855.634.7711, broadmoor.com Andrea Naversen
Photography courtesy of The Broadmoor