In March last year, Colorado Spring’s triple Five Star (Forbes), double Five Diamond (AAA) resort, The Broadmoor, made the wrenching decision, in the face of pandemic-bred restrictions and health concerns, to stop welcoming guests for a full three months. But during this, the longest cessation of service in the 103-year history of The Broadmoor–the original and longest-running 5-Star hotel in the world (according to the Forbes Travel Guide system), was the 784-room resort simply locked down and shuttered, as so many other hospitality properties were, in a panic-stricken bid to reduce expenses?
Emphatically not. “People told me, ‘I hope you finally got a little break during that time’” says Ann Alba, the indefatigable Broadmoor Vice President and Resident Manager, locally legendary for being all places at once, all hours of the day, for the 34 years she’s worked at the property. “This ‘Grande Dame of the Rockies’ could not and should not ever be left alone and she [the hotel] never was, not for one minute. A core team of us were her caretakers for those three months, making sure the water was run in all those rooms through all the pipes, the heat was on, and the halls were walked, all of which happens on autopilot when we’re open, but required manual attention when the doors were closed.
“This was accompanied by planning daily for the safe return of our guests and our team alike. We knew that business would come back strong when the time was right. Our goal was to be able to also support this with our service offerings. For instance, we are gratified to be able to offer full-fledged room service, not just food in a carton delivered outside your door, but full service with a white tablecloth, provided safely and luxuriously by a professional–masked of course–from our food and beverage Team.”
Coming back full-scale this summer will be another point of pride for the Broadmoor team, which expects the resort to be open at full capacity, both in its nearly 800 rooms, suites, brownstones, and cottages on the lodging side and in its extensive array of food service venues: 17 (that number’s not a typo) restaurants, cafés, and lounges.
These range from casual poolside settings to the Golden Bee, an authentic 19th-century British pub (and I mean authentic: the pub was actually moved to The Broadmoor from the U.K. panel by panel), to the speakeasy-style La Taverne Steakhouse (more on the rumored speakeasy history of the Broadmoor below) to al fresco Italian dining at Ristorante del Lago and more.
A Multi-Generational Haven in the Face of Uncertainty
“A strong impetus for us to reopen in true Broadmoor style is our status as a generational property,” Krista Heinicke, The Broadmoor’s public relations and communications manager tells me.
“Generations of guests count on us, even in externally stable times, as a haven where their families can, on a schedule, come together, set aside differences that may have rankled over the telephone line during the rest of the year, and simply breathe deeply in however much of our 5,000-acre property they want to explore together,” says Heinicke. “So when the world was a whirlwind of uncertainty, these guests, many of whom had lineage that went back all the way, or close to, the founding of our hotel themselves, were thinking of us as the one place where they could find a port in the storm that was raging across the country and around the world.”
(The Broadmoor is particularly well laid out as a haven for such multi-generational family groups, offering multi-bedroom suites–including the historic, expansive, and largely unretouched Penrose Suite, the residence of Julie Penrose after her husband, the hotel’s founder, Spencer Penrose’s death–and entire cottages and homes, ranging from somewhat modest affairs [nothing is truly modest here] up to the stunning, 12,000 square-foot Estate House, all available for buy-out by the night, week, or month by self-contained family groups or the pre-arranged “pods” that populate our unprecedented times.)
A New Broadmoor Generation of Guests Discovers 5,000 Acres of Wilderness Experience
For a new generation of guests, however, those who haven’t experienced The Broadmoor before, what will likely take their experience over the top is the way Broadmoor programming has expanded steadily to make use of more and more of the 5,000 acres the property encompasses. These newer opportunities for guests include one of the more authentic dude ranches you’ll find, (and voted the Most Luxurious Ranch by AAA Colorado), Emerald Valley Ranch, hovering at an altitude of 8,200 feet, well above “base camp,” Cloud Camp (Spencer Penrose’s old social lodge, now reimagined for family groups and corporate retreats, a full 3,000 feet above The Broadmoor proper), zip-lining, falconry, mule rides up the mountain, and serious fly fishing at The Broadmoor’s Fly Fishing Camp, on five miles of private waters along the storied Tarryall River.
This is in addition to hiking opportunities at Seven Falls and the popular ride on The Broadmoor-owned cog railroad up Pike’s Peak, refurbished over the last three years and grandly re-opening for rides this spring. In a happy coincidence, Colorado Springs is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this summer.
Born on the Cusp of Prohibition and Now Heading Into Its Second Roaring Twenties
“We‘re already calling this upcoming season, “the first summer of the Roaring Twenties,” Alba smilingly told me as we spoke last week, “which will make it the first summer of The Broadmoor’s second Roaring Twenties if you think about it,” Heinicke jumped in to say, as we were seated in the speakeasy-inspired La Taverne Steakhouse that harkens back to the years just after the hotel’s opening on June 29, 1918, four years after a local prohibition law and a year and a half before the national one (both famously flouted on-property by the hotel founder, and larger-than life-personality Spencer Penrose) that ironically ushered in what would come to be known as the Roaring Twenties. Or what, as it is looking more and more, Roaring Twenties: The Prequel.