This post is also available in: Español
Por: Carlos Dragonné
The internet has taken the surprise out of many things. For example, fans of roller coasters release countless videos of first-hand experience on the rides before many have a chance to experience it; movie-goers around the world devour any number of spoilers for films they have been waiting to go see; lovers of gastronomy discover the secrets and corners of restaurants that no longer surprise them when they pass through the doors. And I confess that, although as I am against doing it, when I knew that I would go to this hotel, I went to the internet, looked at photographs, maps, plans and articles. Still, nothing had prepared me for what I was about to experience. Welcome to Colorado. Welcome to The Broadmoor.
Taking a car and traveling to Colorado Springs is one of the many reasons to love Denver and the state of Colorado. You have so many options in addition to the mountains and ski slopes that you could endlessly enjoy, all near the hub of the Denver International Airport. So we grab a car with Budget Rent-a-Car that always calls our attention with their competitive prices and excellent quality, and we head south on Interstate 25.
I enter Lake Avenue at the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain and arrive at the main entrance of The Broadmoor. I have the sensation that something special is about to happen, like the proverbial moment of falling in love and how you only know how it feels in the moment that it is happening. I cross the gate and see the beauty and grandeur of a hotel that is one year away from its centenary anniversary and has been a fundamental part of the history of the second largest city in Colorado. It is one of those sensations that, despite the narrative cliché, can not be described with the simplicity of words.
The old west’s romance years linger as we approach the main entrance of the property. It is a resort that has redefined the grandiloquence and eccentricities of its first owner and builder: Spencer Penrose, a true lover of Colorado, who built a fortune through innumerable industries and investments. He was a patron of art, fascinated by the possibilities of the mountain and passionate about adventure. Spencer Penrose is now a legend in Colorado for opening The Broadmoor 99 years ago. He originally built it because the owners of the famous Antlers Hotel refused to sell him the property because he was considered a rebel and against traditional values. It is even said that on one occasion, Penrose took his horse to the Antlers lobby and had to be removed from the property. From this history of rivalry arises the small “A” in The Broadmoor logo.
While entering The Broadmoor I begin to develop a love for the architecture of large luxury hotels on the Mediterranean coast. Coming down the steps of the staircase in the lobby are paintings of horses on a night of celebration. They are paintings that were a kind of fantasy achieved over years. There, too, in the corridors that connect all the areas of the property, is the collection of whiskey bottles and other drinks that, in the history of the 99 years, have left their mark and testimony of the visits and anecdotes of the hotel. The resort was created as the perfect escape in the mountains and is celebrated as one of the greatest whims of luxury. It is often regarded as one of Penrose’s most illustrious accomplishments in Colorado Springs. He contributed to other amenities in the area including a zoo, a Chapel in Homage to Will Rogers (a comedian who died in a plane crash and who Spencer Penrose and his wife Julie were admirers), museums about the history and legacy of the American Indians, hospitals, banks, foundations, and a long list of achievements that continue to touch the lives of thousands of people in the state of Colorado.
We begin to walk towards the west building as we approach the lake that is in center of the property. Elsie, my accomplice of adventures, squeezes my hand and I hear her voice break as I embrace her. For her, to be here is a dream that has been building for years. For me, The Broadmoor is a Renaissance fantasy that transports me to the romance stories of 60’s and 70’s cinema, where the protagonists understand that love is hidden among the wooden walls of the historical salons and mountains of Colorado. I imagine the sunsets of all of those movies illuminating lakes like the one that now stretches before my eyes.
With the feeling of being in the middle of a dream that I could wake from at any moment, I cross the lake and reach the west tower, which will be my home for the next few days. I step outside the Ristorante del Lago, where I’ll dine a few hours later and reach the elevators that lead me to my room. Something catches my attention and I keep walking towards the hallway that leads to Play at The Broadmoor, a bar/bowling alley where I will soon bet Elsie the honor of the television remote. But I am distracted by something far more interesting right now…
A few trips ago I commented that much of what defined my hobbies has to do with film and television. I grew up watching television and movies from many eras, varying from the silent films of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd to the magnificence of Francis Ford Coppola, Hitchcock and Spielberg. And I am fond of the world of comics thanks to my grandfather, an avid collector of comics from Tarzan, Batman, Superman and Archie. And now, in the distance, I see a photograph that draws me to it.
There, in front of my eyes, among a huge number of photographs of many visitors of the hotel, was a photograph of George Reeves and Phyllis Coates, the first Superman and the first Lois Lane. I looked at the photograph as a fanatic and started to walk back to realize the pantheon of celebrities that opened before my eyes. I turn back around the corridor and feel as if it is the first time in a long time that everything that revolves around my stay is a complete mystery.
I still can not gauge the size of the property or all of the walls full of western art and history. I would later learn that Philip Anschutz, the current owner of the hotel, owns the largest collection of western art in the world, even lending it to the Denver Art Museum and, of course, to his properties. He has photographs that border on being historical documents and owns more than 13 restaurants, each with its own identity. It is now that I understand why this is the only property in the world that has received, since they were instituted 56 years ago, the Forbes 5 Diamond Award in a consecutive and uninterrupted manner.
I enter the elevator and arrive at my room. Through the window, I observe the afternoon in the mountains of the Colorado Springs. There, halfway to the top of Cheyenne Mountain, Spencer Penrose’s resting place stands proud. That monument and chapel throws the acoustic beauty of the pipe organ into the air every hour. It is clear that we are about to experience the absolute dream of Penrose and that this is not a hotel, but an experience that transforms you.
This resort is not about the eccentricities of an owner at the beginning of the 20th century, but rather about the greatness of sharing his materialized dream. Maybe that’s why the words fall short when I try to explain feeling of crossing through the main entrance for the first time. And, at the same time, that is why no photo or video on the web will reveal how spectacular each moment is. As they say, dreams are only experienced in the moment. It will take us several days to discover this place. I hope you enjoy it. Welcome to The Broadmoor.