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The Broadmoor Hotel Business Information, Profile, and History

penrose colorado golf mountain

1 Lake Avenue
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906
U.S.A.

Company Perspectives:

Located in Colorado Springs at the foot of the Rockies, The Broadmoor provides an environment of unparalleled beauty and luxury. One of the few resorts in the country to have earned the Mobil Five Star and the AAA Five Diamond ratings every year since the awards were established, The Broadmoor is proud to provide guests with the finest in accommodations and services.

History of The Broadmoor Hotel

The Broadmoor Hotel provides luxury accommodations for its guest with 700 rooms and suites, as well as fine dining and entertainment in nine restaurants. A variety of outdoor and indoor activities are available at the hotel, including three golf courses, 12 tennis courts, three swimming pools, and a health spa. The Pikes Peak region offers a variety of tourist attractions as well. Rooms in the 110,000-square-foot meeting and convention facility can accommodate 20 to 1,300 people for banquets or meetings.

The Broadmoor Hotel is the crowning achievement of Spencer Penrose, who attained wealth and status in the Colorado Springs area at the dawn of the 20th century. From its inception the Broadmoor Hotel attracted prominent guests. In the early years John D. Rockefeller, Will Rogers, Jack Dempsey, and Helen Keller visited the hotel, and presidents, movie stars, musical performers, and sports figures have continued to visit the hotel throughout its history.

Prelude to a Luxury Resort

Spencer "Speck" Penrose opened the Broadmoor Hotel 28 years after he arrived in Colorado Springs with an almost empty wallet. A marginal business venture in New Mexico prompted Penrose to relocate to Colorado where his Philadelphia childhood friend, Charles Tutt, made him manager of a real estate business in Cripple Creek in 1891. Tutt loaned $500 to Penrose for half ownership in the business as well. In 1893 the two increased their fortune with an investment in the Cash on Delivery gold mine in Cripple Creek, but a violent labor strike in 1894 led Penrose and Tutt to sell the mine. With another business associate they opened a gold processing mill shortly afterward. In 1903, at Penrose's initiative, they backed a young geologist's pioneering method for processing low grade copper ore in Utah, and became enormously wealthy.

After his 1906 marriage to Julie Villiers Lewis McMillan, of Detroit's high society, Penrose turned somewhat away from ambitions of wealth and toward the well-being of the community in which he lived. He determined to make Colorado Springs a tourist destination. Penrose invested in the Pikes Peak Auto Highway Company, which planned to build a toll road to the top of Pikes Peak. Even before government approval of the road, Penrose planned an automobile race, the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The first race took place in August 1916 and has continued to the present day as the Race to the Clouds. Penrose began Gray Line Tours, which provided car and bus tours to the top of Pikes Peak, and an automobile rental company. Penrose also purchased the Mount Manitou Incline, a steep railway in nearby Manitou Springs.

With tourist facilities in place Penrose addressed the need for hotel accommodations. During World War I America's elite turned toward domestic vacation destinations, and Penrose decided to build a luxury resort which would serve their needs. In 1916 Penrose and several longtime business associates formed the Broadmoor Hotel and Land Company. For $90,000 the company acquired Cheyenne Lake and 18 acres of surrounding land, which included the face of Cheyenne Mountain, an additional 400 acres south of that property, and water rights.

The cost to build the hotel exceeded the $1 million estimate. Architect C.L. Wetmore designed the Broadmoor Hotel to fit into the mountain landscape, with tiers from upper to lower stories of the building and an off-center tower. Two-story wings on both sides of the central building embraced the lake beaches. In keeping with a Southwestern style, the white building was topped with a red tile roof. The company acquired the Broadmoor Greenhouse to provide flowers and plants for the hotel, while the esteemed Olmstead Brothers designed the European style gardens and grounds. Penrose chose the best of everything for the hotel, so it was appropriate that the walls of the hotel have gold in them. When construction began in May 1917, the concrete contained the rubble from gold mining.

Julie Penrose guided the hotel's interior design in an ambiance of understated elegance. Fabrics, carpets, and wall coverings were chosen in the Renaissance style of classic simplicity. The Penroses brought 100 Italian artists from New York and Italy to design the molded plaster ceilings. Ceiling and accent decorations included depictions of classical mythology and the Colorado landscape. Furnishings from European manufacturers managed to cross the war-torn Atlantic Ocean. The Penroses scrutinized every detail of the interior design: the artwork, antiques, chandeliers, and other fixtures. They procured Rosenthal china which carried an ornate "B" in the center, as well as Gorhman silver service. An ornamental frieze of clay plaster fired onto the exterior of the main building intimated the ambiance awaiting guests inside the hotel.

Open for Business in 1918

Spencer Penrose used a variety of methods to promote his grand hotel before the opening of the main building in June 1918. Artist depictions of the hotel were featured in advertising as well as the Preliminary Opening Announcement which was mailed to travel agents and travel clubs nationwide. Penrose commissioned Maxfield Parrish to paint a picture of the Broadmoor with the hotel to the west of the lake (though it rests on the east side) and Cheyenne Mountain as the backdrop. Advertisements in such periodicals as the Saturday Evening Post and Harper's Bazaar highlighted the health and beauty of the mountains. The Penroses traveled to the East Coast to promote the Broadmoor Hotel as a luxury resort in the European style as well as the Pikes Peak Region as a tourist destination. When the Broadmoor Hotel opened for business, the cost of $14 per day included three meals with live music at lunch and dinner and access to all hotel facilities.

Amenities at the resort appealed to wealthy families who would spend summers at the resort. These included an elegant ballroom, a swimming pool filled with mountain water, and a spa with Turkish baths. Visitors could canoe or rowboat on Cheyenne Lake which was stocked with trout for fishing. Guides were available for hiking and horseback riding the trails on the face of Cheyenne Mountain as well as for hunting farther into the Rocky Mountains. Polo fields, tennis courts, bowling greens, and skeet shooting facilities were available for sportsmen. Penrose hired prominent golf course designer Donald Ross for the Broadmoor's 18-hole golf course, the highest altitude golf course of its time at over 6,000 feet above sea level. The terrain at the base of Cheyenne Mountain made for a challenging course as well. The hotel also provided tours to Pikes Peak and a variety of other activities.

The hotel was a success from the beginning and Penrose continued to expand facilities to accommodate dining, sporting events, and leisure activities. The first Broadmoor Roundup rodeo was held in 1920. The event added and changed its offerings every year and led to the creation of the Broadmoor Riding Arena. The rodeo has continued, albeit at another Colorado Springs location, to the present day. The Broadmoor held its first Invitational Golf Tournament in 1921. Women's polo and women's golf tournaments created some controversy in that era. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo opened in 1926 with an elephant, a camel, and a black bear. Later mountain lions, polar bears, seals, and small, exotic animals were added, as well as a train to travel around the zoo. Carriage rides, boxing matches, and the Jungle Room night club also offered diversions for the hotel guests.

To serve this clientele Penrose employed an Italian chef in Colorado while the maitre d'hotel and 25 waiters came from the best hotels on the East Coast. Julie Penrose's artistic sensibilities ensured that the hotel's entertainment fit the ambiance of the hotel with renowned classical performers and musicians, such as Igor Stravinsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff.

Historical Effects: Prohibition to World War II

Penrose fought the 1919 Prohibition of alcohol financially as well as politically. He purchased the local Manitou Mineral Water Company to provide ginger champagne and sparkling water to hotel guests. Penrose also purchased whole cellars of fine wines and liquor which he occasionally dispensed at private parties. When Prohibition ended in 1933, he displayed his liquor reserve at the new Tavern Restaurant, the hotel's western style bar and grill which also offered local wild game dishes. The Broadmoor Hotel became attractive for its cache of wine and liquor at a time of scarce supply.

By 1933 the Great Depression impacted the number of guests visiting the hotel, however. Though the Penroses did not experience adverse effects from the stock market crash, with little of their wealth invested in stocks, their clientele was affected. Business dropped to the point that employees worked only as needed, sometimes for tips only. Also, the hotel had to close for the winter of 1935. The hotel had been running at a deficit from the beginning, but Penrose had covered the losses from his personal funds. The impact of the Depression on his business associates led to events in which Penrose took complete ownership of the hotel.

When Spencer Penrose was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1931 it impacted the hotel in unexpected ways. Spencer and Julie Penrose traveled a great deal at this time and brought back new ideas for the hotel. Seeing Sonja Henje figure skating at St. Moritz instigated the building of the Ice Palace, completed in 1938. Travel to Hawaii led to the transformation of the Jungle Room into a Hawaiian village style nightclub with Hawaiian music in 1939.

Penrose's illness impacted the legal arrangements of the hotel. Julie Penrose was independently wealthy, so in 1937 Penrose formed a foundation for charitable purposes as well as for a tax shelter for his businesses. Penrose's death in 1939, at the age of 74, left ownership of the hotel to the El Pomar Foundation. Julie Penrose became president of the foundation, and Charles Tutt, Jr., became president of the hotel and vice-president of the foundation. Tutt had worked with Penrose since his father's death in 1909. Tutt had served as president of the Broadmoor Golf Club and, in the 1930s, as managing director of the hotel.

World War II presented new opportunities and problems for the Broadmoor. As nearby Camp Carson expanded for military training, the Tavern and the nightclub attracted military officers. The hotel housed military officers at a special rate. The war effort also led to staffing problems, which Julie Penrose resolved (while simultaneously making a statement against the injustice of internment) by hiring several Japanese Americans from a camp in southern Colorado. Many continued to work at the hotel after the war.

Postwar Adjustments

After World War II the hotel business became more directed toward conventions and the Broadmoor adapted. The hotel was refurbished while two new wings of guest rooms and a heated outdoor swimming pool were added. In 1950 lobby expansion incorporated ceiling panels in a heraldic design as well as escalators for faster movement of larger numbers of guests.

Charles Tutt, Jr.'s sons, William Thayer and Russell, became involved with the hotel. William Thayer Tutt became vice-president of the hotel in 1946. He was instrumental in bringing the National Figure Skating Championships and National Collegiate Hockey Championship Playoffs to the Ice Palace. After the death of his father in 1961 Thayer Tutt became president of the hotel and supervised continuation of the hotel refurbishment and expansion.

The hotel was expanded with the new South Tower, an addition of 144 guest rooms, meeting facilities, and a new restaurant, the Edwardian-style Penrose Room. The International Center, in the popular hyperbolic paraboloid style of architecture, added a 2,400-seat auditorium and banquet facilities for 1,600 people. Harry Belafonte and his orchestra opened the Center whose performers included such diverse acts as Liberace and Jefferson Airplane. An English-style pub built near the Center, the Golden Bee, was decorated with the paneling and fixtures of an original 19th-century English pub. The main building of the hotel was redecorated in modern furnishings, but with the ornate Baroque style of fabrics and wall coverings.

The hotel and its sports facilities continued to be an attraction. In 1958 a nine-hole course was added, and expanded to an 18-hole course in 1964. The hotel began to host larger national and international golf tournaments. The Ice Palace and local ice ponds became the training site for several winning Olympic and World Championship ice skaters; it was renamed the Broadmoor World Arena as it attained international status. Declining interest in polo initiated the dismantling of the polo field to make room for ski facilities, provided from 1961 to 1991. The indoor swimming pool and spa facilities closed to allow space for administrative offices in the main building.

In 1975 Russell Tutt replaced Thayer as president of the hotel at a time of increased competition in the resort industry. Tutt responded with an update of facilities and services. In 1976 an additional new wing on the west side of Cheyenne Lake added 150 deluxe rooms. Charles Court served continental cuisine, but turned toward American regional dishes in the 1980s. The landscaping was changed from the European style to low-water-use, native Colorado plants. In the area of sports, the Broadmoor added a third golf course and hosted prominent skeet shooting tournaments. Colorado Hall was built in 1982 to provide 18,000 square feet of exhibition and convention space.

The hotel's continual renewal intermixed a sense of the past as well. Historic preservation included restoration of the decorative frieze on the exterior of the main building. The frieze was cleaned and repainted. Julie Penrose's classic simplicity was redesigned into the interior of the original main buildings. Archives were gathered for a future museum and temporarily mounted in the lobby area. The Broadmoor Golf Club had to be razed, but window, tile, and other fixtures were preserved for the new building.

New Ownership 1988

The Federal Tax Reform Act of 1969 required nonprofit foundations to divest half of their for-profit businesses by 1989, and an additional 15 percent by 2004. El Pomar was required to sell majority interest in the Broadmoor Hotel and other businesses in Penrose's empire. The Oklahoma Publishing Company under Edward L. Gaylord acquired 65 percent ownership of the Broadmoor Hotel in 1988, and an additional 15 percent ownership in 1990. Gaylord's interest in the property stemmed from regular childhood visits to Colorado which included stays at the Broadmoor, and his ownership of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper from 1978 to 1986. Gaylord had other family connections to the Colorado Springs community. This satisfied the El Pomar Foundation, which was concerned with maintaining the hotel's traditions and community connections.

Under Gaylord, upgrade and expansion of the hotel continued. At a cost of $20 million a new 90,000-square-foot recreational area opened in 1994 with a fitness center, golf clubhouse, and clay tennis courts. The area held a 33,000-square-foot spa including sauna, massage treatment rooms, and a swimming pool which was contoured to fit the mountain side, and housed under a jeweled and etched glass skylight. An additional $20 million was allocated to 150 new guest rooms and more meeting space. A $7 million renovation of the International Center created a more inviting environment in keeping with the hotel's overall atmosphere. The Broadmoor South guest rooms and lobby were renovated, while the driving range and irrigation system for the golf course were upgraded in 1996.

In October 1995 the Colorado Springs Planning Commission approved zoning for the Broadmoor Resort Community, a gated residential development located on 1,500 acres southwest of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The development would use 300 acres to hold single family homes on to 2 acre lots and townhomes priced from $350,000 to $2 million. It was expected that the housing development of up to 650 units would accommodate second homes for nonresidents of Colorado. The development was projected to cost $15 million and construction would take 15 years. Community residents would have access to the hotel facilities.

The prominence of the Broadmoor Hotel, as acknowledged by national travel organizations, continued in the 1990s. The Mobile Travel Guide gave the Broadmoor a Five Star rating for the 36th year in a row in January 1996. The following autumn the Official Hotel Guide, used by travel agents worldwide, classified the Broadmoor under Superior Deluxe accommodations. The Broadmoor was one of only 90 hotels to fulfill the stringent requirements of that prestigious category. The hotel was also honored with the American Automobile Association's Five Diamond Award in November 1996.

Promotions continued to focus on groups in need of meeting facilities in the 1990s. In conjunction with meetings, the mountain setting furnished the possibility for group outings that built teamwork among coworkers and executives. The Action Learning Center was formed to organize challenging outdoor activities, such as rappelling, which required cooperation among participants.

In 1999 the hotel revitalized its retail outlet configuration. The drugstore, espresso bar, and women's boutique were redesigned and a new shoe store was added. A 4,600-square-foot Polo Ralph Lauren store opened in April 1999. The product line included high-end labels not available in department stores, children's clothing, and home accessories. Payment was set like a restaurant, where a bill would be totaled and brought to the patron in a portfolio. A living room style area was included in the store layout for this purpose. Thus, as the Broadmoor prepared for a new century, its allure as a unique world-class hotel continued unabated.

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