By Roger Cox, Editor
If you grew up in Colorado, as I did, the Broadmoor occupied a special place in travelers' imaginations. What were then the Mobil Travel Guides awarded it 5 Stars year after year (and it continues to get that 5-Star rating, now from Forbes, the successor to Mobil). It was a place my parents looked forward to visiting—usually without us kids—frequently joining another couple from Denver for a special adult weekend away. I'm not sure what those holidays consisted of, exactly, other than golf (they were not tennis players) and the pleasures of an elegant, historic hotel. I'd be an adult myself before I ever got there, originally driving by when I was in college just to see what this fabled place looked like and then later drawn by the tennis to be a guest.
Resorts like the Broadmoor owe as much to their developer's ego as to anything else. Spencer Penrose, a turn-of-the-century mining magnate, bought what was then a small hotel in the foothills below Pike's Peak and set out to replace it with something grand enough to rival the finest hotels in the world. To that end, he hired the architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore, who had designed New York City's Grand Central Station and Biltmore and Ritz-Carlton hotels. From their drawing board emerged a vision of Italian Renaissance splendor in rosy-hued stucco and red tile.
Penrose then imported a battalion of skilled artisans from as far away as Italy to hand-decorate the walls, ceilings, and floors of the public rooms. While they were at it he and his wife traveled the world collecting paintings, sculpture, tapestries, and other fine pieces to furnish the rooms and lobbies. Finally, to complete the project he hired Frederick Law Olmsted, who had laid out New York's Central Park, to bring order to the foothills landscape, and legendary golf-course architect Donald Ross to design the first of what would eventually be three golf courses. The resort opened in 1918 to great fanfare. The combination of European opulence, a captivating setting, and pure, invigorating mountain air made it an immediate hit with international society. Then as now there was nothing to rival it west of the Mississippi.
Pro Shop: 719-577-5847
Tennis director Karen Brandner oversees the entire operation, coordinating a staff of nine that includes five teaching pros. Activity varies seasonally, reaching a zenith in summer. The roster of weekly summer activities features not only the obligatory private lessons but several types of daily clinics, drill sessions, workouts, team competition (in a game called "105"), Quickstart tennis, junior day camps, complimentary round robins, and game matching. All of that is supplemented on selected weekends by adult camps, junior tennis camps, and tailor-made private camps for groups and teams.
Tennis Staff. Among a strong staff, two stand out: senior tennis professional John Fielding, who, like Brandner, started his tenure at the Broadmoor more than 20 years ago when Dennis Ralston ran the program, and head tennis pro Christopher Ellis, who has been there almost 20 years. That longevity matters, when people have so many choices about where to vacation. "We have to have that personal relationship with every single person who comes through the door," says Brandner. "We get people who come back year after year knowing they'll get a warm greeting and see familiar faces."
Courts & Fees. Three terraced hard courts cascade east from the tennis and golf pro shops into a complex of 1920s style cottages, each with eight bedrooms, an ideal accommodation choice for families, groups, and teams. There used to be a fourth hard court at the bottom of this terraced group; however, that one has been reconfigured to accommodate three pickleball courts. The complex is completed by two Har-Tru courts located off a broad patio bordered by lounge chairs and umbrella tables, as if to encourage spectators. Though the weather may be mild enough to allow outdoor play throughout much of the year, the Broadmoor covers two of its hard courts with a bubble in winter. Court fees: $35/hour outdoor until noon, then $25/hour ($40/hour indoors available Oct.-Apr. only).
Altitude Caveat: The Broadmoor stands at just over 6,000 feet above sea level. Expect your endurance to flag in this rarefied air and take extra precautions against sunburn, including the use of an industrial strength sunblock, hat, and sunglasses.
Spa & Fitness
Golf Courses. Tee times for any of the following courses can be reserved by calling (719) 577-5790. Play is limited to guest of the resort and members.
Spa & Fitness Center. The clearest evidence of the Broadmoor's intention to appeal to a more active—and perhaps self-indulgent—clientele is its Spa and Fitness Center, which together comprise a four-level, 90,000-square-foot complex done in native stone, Italian tile, and hardwoods. The spa offers a full range of treatments, including massages, facials, milk and mud baths, and herbal wraps, inhalation rooms, several wet treatment rooms. Four of its massage rooms open onto private terraces for treatments outdoors with views of the Rocky Mountains. Its changing and sitting rooms have fireplaces.
The Fitness Center consists of an indoor pool with underwater music and a transparent ceiling, an outdoor lap pool, a mountainside Jacuzzi and lounging deck, an aerobics studio, and a state-of-the-art, attentively staffed gym—with windows on the golf course and mountains—outfitted with cardiovascular equipment and Cybex and other workout machines.
And ... In addition to everything else the Broadmoor has bicycle rentals, paddleboats for use on Cheyenne Lake, a trap and skeet range, a fly-fishing school, and horseback riding.
From late May through Labor Day, the Broadmoor runs a "Bee Bunch" program for children 4-12. One counselor is assigned to every five children. Depending on their age, the activities may include visits to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (on the Broadmoor grounds), swimming in any of the three pools, arts and crafts, pony rides, paddleboating, scavenger hunts, or golf or tennis clinics. A full-day program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. includes lunch; there are also half day programs, from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. In both cases there is an optional 6-10 p.m. evening program, which includes dinner. Family rates are also available and separate babysitting can also be arranged through the concierge.
The Broadmoor has some 700 guest rooms generally arranged on either side of Lake Cheyenne and these are supplemented now by 44 cottages, near the courts and along the golf course, and brownstones in a mini neighborhood near the courts. In the past I've always preferred the rooms in the original hotel. Those rooms and the main lobby and entrance have been thoroughly refurbished to the extent of combining small rooms to create luxurious suites. They have the a modern Edwardian elegance, if that's not an oxymoron, only antique reproduction furnishings, original art, and hand craftsmanship can provide. I can't stay there without wondering who among the hotel's long roster of famous guests may have slept in that bed or wandered those halls. Though whoever they were would not have had a touch-screen at bedside to control the drapes, TV, and lighting, as my South Tower room did on my last visit.
On the opposite side of the lake stands the seven-story West Tower, which opened in 1997. Although that wing has none of the historic echoes, its rooms nonetheless stand out for their exquisite traditional decor and spaciousness. All of them have French doors that open out onto terraces with views of the mountains, lake, or golf course. The other lodging options are the cottages, ranging in size up to eight bedrooms and lining the fairway of the East golf course. And though you might not expect it, the hotel is pet friendly, even to the point of providing numerous pet services.
There are some dozen restaurants and lounges on the Broadmoor property. These range from the Golden Bee, a traditional English pub that serves yards of ale and steak and kidney pie, to the 14th-floor award-winning Penrose Room. Also of note is the Summit, a free-standing French bistro designed by Adam Tihany in that Frommer's ranked as one of the country's Top 10 hotel restaurants.
Among the other tennis resorts with the Broadmoor's grand style are:
Rates vary seasonally.
Visit the website for current rates
Seasons. Although the Broadmoor is open all year, the best time to visit is during the May-to-September high season when activity on the courts reaches its zenith.
Travel Instructions. By Air: The Broadmoor is 11 miles from the Colorado Springs airport. If you're driving from there, take Drennan Road to Hancock Expressway, turn right onto Hancock Expressway and continue to South Circle Drive. Circle Drive becomes Lake Avenue and terminates at the entrance to The Broadmoor. By Car: Exits off I-25 are clearly marked.
General Tourist Information. Visit the Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau website or contact them at 115 S. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903; 719-635-7506 or toll-free 800-888-4748.