When Spencer Penrose opened The Broadmoor in 1918 in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he envisioned not just a hotel, but a destination.
In 1915, he purchased the Manitou Incline Railway, a 2,500-foot funicular that chugged tourists up Mount Manitou. Then Penrose, an auto enthusiast, built a steep 20-mile-long, 20-foot-wide dirt highway to allow visitors to drive up to Pikes Peak’s summit in 1916. He also devised an annual race (now called The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, it’s the oldest U.S. car competition after the Indy 500) for those who wanted hairpin-curve-filled rides up the mountain that looms more than 14,000 feet above sea level.
The real coup was snapping up the bankrupt Broadmoor Casino and hotel along with the adjacent 450 acres. He then acquired 80 more acres to build an undulating golf course that had the highest in elevation in the country at the time.
From there, the master promoter (Penrose pulled stunts like strutting his elephant around town and having her caddy a golf game with boxer Jack Dempsey) kept building — he put a lodge atop Cheyenne Mountain, a zoo, stables, a shrine with an observation tower, an ice skating and hockey arena (now shuttered) and much more across the vast property.
After 100 years, Penrose’s ambitious vision is a reality. As The Broadmoor celebrates its centennial anniversary, the property spans 5,000 acres, four hotels, two 18-hole golf courses and endless adventures. And yet through it all, The Broadmoor never lost its elegance or dedication to service; it’s Forbes Travel Guide’s longest-running Five-Star hotel and has earned the top honor for a record 58 consecutive years.
Let us take you inside the Grand Dame of the Rockies and show you why she’s looking better than ever.
The Broadmoor has a proud culinary tradition, and only six executive chefs have been at the helm (David Patterson took over in 2017) in 100 years. Today, 20 restaurants, cafés and lounges dot the property.
It’s easy to overlook Summit, since the Five-Star Penrose Room has dominated diners’ attention since its 1961 debut. But don’t miss this under-the-radar restaurant tucked next to the convention center. Opened in 2006, the warm and inviting Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired space features a glass-enclosed rotating wine column behind the bar and meticulously made food.
Luis Young, an alum of The French Laundry, came aboard as chef de cuisine in 2017 and steered the menu in a more contemporary direction. The Alaskan red king crab salad is fresh and light with avocado dollops, pink grapefruit segments, Earl Grey, radishes and Kalamata olive powder. The roasted beef tenderloin melts in your mouth. The gnocchi swim in a creamy truffle-butter sauce (alongside it, we savored the Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Mont Moelleux 2015, a chenin blanc with honey and ginger notes).
As its name suggests, Ristorante del Lago sits along 10-acre Cheyenne Lake. Take a seat at the popular Italian restaurant and pair a Fattoria Moretto lambrusco with antipasti like the mild, slightly sweet gorgonzola dolce cheese and the silky robiola bosina. Next, get the saltimbocca di maiale, a heaping helping of juicy pork wrapped in prosciutto. But leave room for the housemade pastas and the luscious pistachio gelato studded with nuts for dessert.
The newly debuted Grille sports a classic look seeped in wood, pine green, tan leather and plaid. Overlooking the golf course, it’s only open to golf club members and resort guests.
At lunch, be sure to order The Grille’s healthy, comforting tomato basil soup. Then move on to the smoked turkey club piled high with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and red onion; the sandwich arrives with golf tees piercing the halves in lieu of toothpicks. During dinner, The Grille goes more upscale. It brings back resort favorites, like chateaubriand carved tableside and the pepper steak flambé.
For something sweet, visit the new Café Julie’s off of the main lobby. The patisserie churns out treats like housemade gelato, breads and pastries. But the star attraction is the chocolate. Pick up a box of divine-tasting truffles and peek into the open kitchen to see them being made.
When Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz purchased the hotel in 2011, he set out to create more authentic Western adventures, and The Broadmoor Wilderness Experience was born. The Wilderness Experience includes a collection of rustic, experiential boutique properties: Cloud Camp is a hiker’s haven perched 9,200 feet atop Cheyenne Mountain; The Ranch at Emerald Valley offers luxe ranch life in the Pike National Forest; and Fly Fishing Camp provides five private miles of angling along the Tarryall River.
The Experience also includes some must-see attractions. In 2014, The Broadmoor purchased Seven Falls, a string of waterfalls in a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon that’s one of Pikes Peak’s most popular tourist stops.
The hotel made it even more of a destination by adding Restaurant 1858 — a nod to the year the Colorado Gold Rush began — next to the falls. There, enjoy a hearty bison burger topped with pueblo green chili relish, cheddar, hickory-smoked bacon and green chili mayonnaise, or go lighter with the Rocky Mountain trout sautéed with bacon. Afterward, sit outside in one of the wooden rocking chairs and gaze out at the cascading waterfalls.
A new activity was introduced in 2016 above Seven Falls. The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure delivers staggering views of the area via a zip line.
Between the two courses, we braved the more daredevil option, the sky-high Fins, which sends you over craggy cliffs, steep drops and a pair of wobbly 200-foot rope bridges. As first-time zip-liners, we were a touch nervous, especially when our guide Carl joked that his large supply bag doubled as an emergency body bag. But Carl and his fellow guide Nicole made us feel safe throughout, and we quickly got over any fear of such heights.
After practicing on several smaller zip lines, we relaxed and took in the majestic scenery around us as we soared 500 feet above Seven Falls Canyon.
The final zip line — the longest at 1,800 feet — made our hearts jump, since we quickly picked up speed and it took much more effort to stop. But it was worth it for the vistas and the thrills. The adventure ends with a 180-foot assisted rappel, which looks daunting but is a breeze.
Penrose commissioned famed artist Maxfield Parrish to paint a picture of hotel in 1919. But Penrose didn’t want a true-to-life depiction; instead he asked for a version that featured the hotel on the opposite side of the lake, so it could showcase The Broadmoor with the water in the foreground and the mountains in the back. This painting became the blueprint for Broadmoor West, which opened in 1976.
The hotel’s recent renovations also took cues from the past. The small 100-year-old main lobby was expanded, but The Broadmoor took care to preserve its grand spiraling staircase, a key feature. Now sofas and gas fireplaces invite you to linger in the wood-paneled space.
The main hotel’s rooms and suites also were refreshed to match the European-style Broadmoor West accommodations, but the newest offering is the Estate House, which was unveiled in 2016. Though the red-brick structure is actually a 12,000-square-foot, five-bedroom mansion originally built in the 1930s. The spacious abode sits on the edge of the hotel campus, and affords the same privacy and perks of renting out a home.
During its centenary year, the resort will dedicate each month to a different facet of its past with special events, activities and packages.
In July, The Broadmoor celebrates its famed golf history. The property held its first tournament in July 1918 on the original Donald Ross-designed course. Throughout the years, the greens have also seen Jack Nicklaus’ first win in the 1959 U.S. Amateur and Annika Sorenstam’s nail-biting triumph in the 1995 U.S. Women’s Open.
To learn more, peruse the new golf exhibits lining the hallway to The Grille. The wood cabinets hold trophies, clubs, photos and other memorabilia from that Sorenstam tournament, the 2008 U.S. Senior Open and more. There’s also a 1977 Ryder Cup golf bag from U.S. captain Dow Finsterwald, who was The Broadmoor’s director of golf at the time.
Then in August, the hotel will commemorate its gardens, which were designed by brothers Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. and John Charles Olmsted (they trained under their father, who designed Central Park). Garden tours and classes will be on the schedule.
Running throughout the year, the hotel’s Broadmoor Centennial Package gives you classic accommodations (or 25 percent off suites), a daily breakfast credit, sparkling wine and candy at turndown, and a copy of The Broadmoor Story, a newly released coffee-table book that will let you dig even deeper into the property’s rich legacy.