By Peter Ellegard
Known as the Grande Dame of the Rockies, The Broadmoor is a luxury Colorado institution that has been welcoming guests for over a century.
Situated 6,000 feet high on a 3,000-acre tranche of land at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain – inside which the US Air Force’s NORAD command and control bunker was built during the Cold War – the elegant, pink-facaded five-star resort lies five miles from the city of Colorado Springs and 75 minutes’ drive from international gateway Denver.
Mining entrepreneur Spencer Penrose opened his opulent Broadmoor Hotel in 1918 on the site of a casino and small hotel. The imposing Italianate edifice, the work of the designers behind New York City’s Grand Central Station with its grounds fashioned by the firm that laid out Central Park, was aimed at creating a stylish hotel blending European elegance with Western hospitality as part of a master plan to create a leisure destination. A golf course designed by renowned architect Donald Ross opened a few days later.
By that time, Colorado Springs had evolved from its founding in 1871 into a wealthy city, earning it the sobriquet City of Millionaires as it had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America. In its early years it was nicknamed Little London because so many residents were of British descent.
The Broadmoor has hosted many famous guests, from comedians, astronauts and movie stars to presidents and royalty. A gallery of celebrity guests’ photographs lines one corridor wall.
The hotel has been owned since 2011 by American billionaire Philip Anschutz, whose AEG group also owns London’s O2 venue, the LA Galaxy MLS football team, California’s Coachella festival, Windstar Cruises and the Sea Island resort in Georgia.
Arriving via the landscaped drive you certainly get a sense of its history and grandeur, underlined by a wonderful, green 1937 Cadillac V8 Touring Car parked outside the entrance in which guests can explore the Pikes Peak mountain region. A fleet of such Cadillacs once took guests to the top of the mountain after Penrose had a road built to the summit.
Having checked in at the oak-panelled main lobby, given a makeover in a multi-million dollar centenary hotel revamp, I head up to my sumptuously-furnished and spacious classic king room to drop my things ready for the day’s activities. The hotel has 784 rooms, spanning three categories plus suites, in a complex comprising the original building and two additional towers set round a lake. Some, like mine, have a decadent, classical European feel while others are more contemporary.
Besides the main campus accommodation, guests can also stay in cottages alongside the 18th fairway of Ross’s East Course, in Brownstone houses and in its five-bedroom exclusive retreat, Estate House.
Restaurants and bars
Take your pick from 10 restaurants as well as 10 cafes and lounges at The Broadmoor. They range from its casual pool café to the Penrose Room, Colorado’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond restaurant.
Centenary overhauls saw the opening of Parisian patisserie-style Café Julie’s in the main building and The Grille in its Golf Club building.
I enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the Golden Bee, an authentic 19th century English pub that was transported to Colorado panel by panel when the building was demolished. You can wet your whistle with imported English beers (there’s even a yard of ale for the brave), American craft ales or something stronger.
Following that, dinner is served in the Summit restaurant, which specialises in contemporary regional American cuisine with a classical twist and takes its inspiration from Pikes Peak. The restaurant features a striking glass-enclosed wine turret housing over 500 bottles.
The newly-renovated Broadmoor Spa features separate male and female steam rooms, saunas, aromatherapy rooms and lounges besides its Mountain View Room and Terrace overlooking the golf courses to the Rocky Mountains beyond which are open to both sexes. Treatments include a range of massages, body scrubs, wraps, facials (for men as well as women) and hydrotherapy.
Hotel guests also have the use of the fitness centre, indoor pool and outdoor whirlpool.
One thing is certain if you stay at The Broadmoor – you won’t get bored. There are two golf courses: the East Course, which has hosted numerous tournaments including the 2018 US Senior Open and 2011 US Women’s Open, and the tighter West Course. Both are a blend of the original Donald Ross layout, the back nine forming part of the East and the front nine now part of the West with the other holes added by Robert Trent Jones Sr.
A fishing lodge and jetty on the lake by the East’s 6th hole offers guests the chance to try fly fishing with help from expert guides. I have never tried before but manage to catch a trout with one of my casts.
I also join head falconer Deanna Curtis for a falconry demonstration with a Harris hawk and a falcon, which I get to hold while wearing a special handler’s glove.
The hotel operates a tram to the nearby cascading Seven Falls waterfalls, hiking on many trails on-campus and in the area, mountain biking, tennis and indoor bowling as well as zip lines, rappelling and suspension bridges. It also has a heritage museum and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on site and owns the historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway, although that is currently closed as much of the equipment has reached the end of its working life.
Guests who really want a true wilderness experience can stay at one of The Broadmoor’s specialist off-campus properties: The Ranch at Emerald Valley in Pike National Forest, Fly Fishing Camp on a private stretch of one of Colorado’s best fishing rivers, and Cloud Camp, 3,000 feet above the hotel atop Cheyenne Mountain.
Few hotels combine such a feeling of being connected with the great outdoors with sheer indulgent luxury as The Broadmoor. Yet it manages to do so successfully and with a friendly Western welcome bereft of any stuffiness. I would sling my hook back there again in a heartbeat.
1 Lake Avenue
T: +1 719 577 5777