The beauty and majesty of the Pikes Peak Region inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write America the Beautiful. It has also inspired presidents and dignitaries from many nations to visit. But the breathtaking mountain views are not the only thing that beckons tourists to return to this region, year after year. There is another place, nestled in the heart and soul of the region, that keeps them coming back for more. That place is The Broadmoor, a resort that shines brightly as one of the world’s premier destinations.
The Broadmoor (otherwise known as “The Grande Dame of the Rockies) makes its home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a picturesque city founded in 1871 by General William Jackson Palmer. Palmer, a Pennsylvania-born Civil War veteran, came across the scenic city during his railroad travels. He was inspired by what he saw and decided to build a community there. English tourists and the discovery of gold in nearby Cripple Creek in the 1890s further spurned the city’s growth. Today, Colorado Springs is Colorado’s second largest city, behind Denver, with a population of 360,890, according to the 2000 census. It is home to many sightseeing venues, including the United States Air Force Academy and the United States Olympic Training Center, and attracts over 6 million visitors annually.
It is in this historical place that James Pourtales, a Prussian Count, purchased 2,400 acres in 1890, thus forming The Broadmoor Land and Investment Company. To entice people to buy lots, he built The Broadmoor Casino which opened in July 1, 1891. A few years later a small hotel was built on the site. Pourtales was unable to move forward with development of the land due to financial problems, forcing the land into receivership. In 1897, the casino and hotel were purchased by the Winfield Scott Stratton Estate and were used for many local events, but were later converted to a boarding house and day school for girls.
In 1916, Spencer Penrose, an entrepreneur from Philadelphia, and his wife purchased The Broadmoor Casino and Hotel 40-acre site, plus an adjoining 400 acres. Mr. Penrose’s goal was to create a luxury resort that was the most beautiful in the world. Construction on the main complex began on May 20, 1917 and on June 29, 1918, The Broadmoor officially opened with three buildings, 111 rooms, and an 18-hole golf course designed by Donald Ross. The resort boasted of a curved marble staircase, dramatic chandeliers, hand-painted beams and ceilings, a carved marble fountain, and a striking pink stucco façade.
Penrose insisted on world-class service for all of his guests. With that objective in mind, Penrose and his design team recruited artisans who created elaborate exterior and interior designs modeled after the elegance and beauty that the Penroses observed in their travels to Europe and the Orient. In addition, Louis Stratta from Italy was hired as the executive chef and intensive training was given to all hotel employees to ensure that guests received only the finest service.
Penrose made The Broadmoor into one of the most superb resorts of its time. Many dignitaries and celebrities have stayed at The Broadmoor over the years. In fact, John D. Rockefeller was the hotel’s first celebrity guest in 1918, even though his stay was short-lived. He and his wife were forced to leave the hotel and go to the nearby Antler’s Hotel because the wet paint fumes proved too much for them to bear! Since then, multiple celebrities and presidents have stayed at The Broadmoor, including Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, and Walt Disney, Bob Hope, Ted Turner, Jane Fonda, Joe DiMaggio, and Sugar Ray Leonard, to name just a few.
In the first decade of the hotel’s existence a room with a private bath and twin beds could be had for $14 a day. The cost included three full meals each day with live music provided at lunch and dinner.
In addition to creating a world-class resort, Penrose also built the Pikes Peak Road leading to the summit as an alternative to the Cog Railway and sponsored the first auto race, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, to the summit. He created the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, America’s highest altitude zoo and considered one of the finest privately-owned zoos in the United States, housing more than 800 animals. In 1925, he purchased the Pikes Peak Cog Railway which is a popular tourist destination in its own right and one of his most enduring legacies.
Though The Broadmoor is rich in history and has much to boast of throughout its storied past, the present is clearly the priority now. Today the facility is set on 3,000 acres and the only constant here, besides superior service, has been change. Many additions have been made to the Five-Star, Five-Diamond property over the years, the most recent in the spring of 2006 when the West Residences were added (located on the golf course along the second fairway of the West Course open). In July of this year Nicklaus Design expects to unveil the newly redesigned and configured Mountain Course. Also expected is the renovation of the South Tower and the Penrose Room featuring all new rooms, many with balconies, state-of-the-art control panels for everything from lights to curtains, and plasma screen televisions Eight new retail shops and a grand staircase to Cheyenne Lake will also be added, at a cost of $78 million!
In October of 2005, 60,000 square feet of additional meeting space was added with the completion of The Broadmoor Hall. A $75 million renovation project was completed in May of 2002 with the addition of the Lakeside Suites building, containing 21 rooms, most with fireplaces and patios or balconies. In the summer of 2001 an 11,000 square foot infinity edge swimming pool was added to the north end of Cheyenne Lake, along with Slide Mountain waterslides, a children’s pool, two 14-person whirlpools, 13 cabanas, and a new pool café.
In 1995, the hotel opened a luxury Spa, Golf, and Tennis Club, including a state-of-the art fitness center, aerobics studio, outdoor and indoor pools, golf clubhouse, three restaurants and lounges, and golf and tennis pro shops. A second golf course was opened in 1965 and a third course was added in 1976.
The hotel is the recipient of numerous awards; it is the longest running consecutive winner of both the Mobil Travel Guide Five-Star Award (47 years) and the AAA Five-Diamond Award (30 years). The restaurants, golf courses, spa, and tennis club have also received countless honors.
The resort hosts many events throughout the year. During the holiday season seven performances of “Colorado Rocky Mountain Christmas” will be performed from December 14-24. Also, a New Year’s Eve presentation with Ken Miller and The Broadmoor Pops Orchestra is slated to take place. In the spring of 2007 the Weekend of Jazz with Earl Klugh will be held at the hotel.
The hotel is independently owned and operated, privately held by Oklahoma Publishing Company (OPUBCO and Mrs. Christy Gaylord Everest). There have only been two owners in the hotel’s 88 year history – Spencer and Julie Penrose and the Gaylord family, who became owners in 1988.
For many years The Broadmoor has been the hub of the community and has been a leader in many areas, including education, culture, and society, according to Allison Scott, Director of Communications.
“We continue to support numerous programs in Colorado Springs. Many members of our management team serve on civic and cultural committees, as well as on state and national industry councils,” Scott explained
When asked what makes The Broadmoor unique, Scott responded, “When the Penroses opened the hotel and golf course in 1918, their goal was to create a grand resort where `European Elegance meets Western Hospitality.’ Back then, Mr. Penrose charged his staff to deliver the ultimate in service. Now, with 3,000 acres, three championship courses, 12 restaurants, 700 rooms, and 1600 employees from 22 different countries, the ethic of service still remains the same. Though we continue to rejuvenate, renovate and expand the property, the one thing that is as true now as it was in 1918 is our staff’s dedication to going above and beyond for our guests. At the end of the day, it’s our people that make the difference.”
In addition to those amenities already mentioned, others include 24-hour room service, a first-run movie theater, babysitting services, Bee Bunch children’s program (seasonal), and a laundry and dry cleaner on site. High speed and dial up internet connections are also available in each room. The hotel offers many special packages, all of which can be viewed at www.broadmoor.com. To make reservations or to get more information, visit the website or call 1-800-634-7711.