On June 29, 1918, the day the Broadmoor’s heavy wooden doors formally opened, owner Spencer Rose staged what he called “a big blowout.” The gala included a dinner and dance, as well as a concert by New York’s Boxhorn Orchestra in the hotel’s magnificent ballroom, where 400 guests waltzed the night away on a spring-loaded floor. The paint was so fresh on what the Colorado Springs Gazette called “the highest pinnacle of the architect’s art” that the resort’s first VIP guest, John D. Rockefeller, was forced to find other accommodations due to the pervasive fumes.

Originally built as a casino by a Prussian Count in 1891, the Broadmoor was completely transformed through the vision and financial backing of entrepreneur Spencer Penrose, who despite graduating last in his class at Harvard had earned a fortune from Cripple Creek’s glittering gold mines, among other business ventures. Spencer, along with his wife Julie, a Detroit-born socialite who had aggressively courted the avowed bachelor, had dreamed of creating an elegant resort comparable to the most exquisite accommodations they had experienced while traveling together around the globe.

Spencer and Julie Penrose in 1937. Courtesy of Hermine Weber / the Broadmoor

The Penroses spared no expense in actualizing their vision; they hired the most prominent architects, landscapers, and golf course designers to plan a resort splendid enough to complement its stunning natural setting at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain. The original Italian Renaissance-style building, whose rose-colored stucco walls and red-tiled roof rose above a sparkling, manmade lake, exceeded $2 million (a fortune at that time), and the opulent furnishings and interior decorations added yet another $1 million to the tab. The 350 rooms and suites were decorated in a classic Mediterranean style, with furnishings and European artwork that Julie herself had picked.

Because Spencer wanted to create a resort experience rather than just a hotel, he also added signature amenities, including a Donald Ross-designed golf course, a 100,000-gallon indoor pool, and one of the country’s first full-service spas, whose steam rooms, plunge pools, and massage rooms were open to both men and women, which was unusual for that time. Penrose also eventually added a shooting school, a polo field, an airport hangar, and a riding academy, which he later converted into an ice-skating arena, to the already deluxe facilities.

The Broadmoor today offers nearly 800 rooms and acclaimed amenities. Courtesy of the Broadmoor

Today, following numerous expansions and remodels, the Broadmoor offers 779 rooms, along with a highly acclaimed spa, several championship golf courses, and 18 restaurants—amenities that have made it America’s longest-running consecutive winner of both the Forbes Five-Star and the AAA Five-Diamond awards. In the resort’s tradition, guests can still enjoy a host of activities, from ziplining above waterfalls and playing the famous links to participating in a falconry demonstration.

To celebrate the Grand Dame’s centennial, the resort is offering a special benefit concert with Amy Grant and Vince Gill on June 25 to honor our nation’s veterans, a fireworks display on the formal anniversary (June 29), and special events and packages throughout the year, with a different theme featured each month. In addition, from June 25 through July 1, the Broadmoor will host the property’s eighth USGA Championship, the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, which will be hosted by John Elway.

It just goes to show that while the years have changed, the Broadmoor’s dedication to excellence (and penchant for attracting big names) has remained the same.

Visit: The Broadmoor is located at 1 Lake Ave. Colorado Springs; 800-755-5011

Terri Cook
Terri Cook
Terri Cook is an award-winning freelance writer based in Boulder. More of her work can be found at down2earthscience.com.