7 Surprising Facts About The Broadmoor
A MOUNTAINSIDE ZOO? A FRONT-DESK SEA LION? WHO KNEW!
BY: JAYNE CLARK
Washington, DC-based freelance travel writer Jayne Clark has been a travel reporter at USA TODAY and several other daily newspapers.
The Broadmoor has racked up an impressive number of accolades in its almost 100-year existence, including being awarded Forbes’ Five-Star rating for 56 years running, and AAA’s Five-Diamond award for 40 years. That makes it the longest-standing hotel recipient of both these awards in the world.
But there are some lesser-known facts about the venerable lodging that might surprise you.
1. Its skating arena spawned some world champions. A number of Olympic and World skating stars, including Peggy Fleming and Jill Trenary, honed their skills at the on-site Broadmoor Ice Palace, as well as Hayes Jenkins and his brother David Jenkins. The facility was built in 1937 after the hotel’s founder, Spencer Penrose, and his wife, Julie, saw three-time Olympic champion and film star, Sonja Henie, skate in Chicago. The facility closed in 1994, but Colorado Springs’ current major skating venue, The Broadmoor World Arena, once again bears the hotel’s name.
2. The nation’s only mountainside zoo is perched just above the hotel. Penrose was a hunter of some renown and a collector of wild—and not-so-wild—animals. (His elephant, Tessie, was a retired circus performer.) He housed his menagerie on the hotel grounds where the South Tower now stands. Because of the noise and smell, Penrose built a proper zoo and moved it to its current location. Opened in 1927, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo became a non-profit entity supported by grants and donations, and remains a community favorite.
3. It displays numerous works from the world’s largest Western art collection. Current Broadmoor owner, billionaire entrepreneur Philip Anschutz (who bought the property in 2011 and invested $600 million in expansion and renovations), possesses what is lauded as the world’s largest collection of Western art. More than 175 works, mostly paintings and sculptures, by renowned artists including Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, grace the Broadmoor and its nearby sister properties, Cloud Camp and the Ranch at Emerald Valley. Some are giclée works; some are originals. But which is which is a closely held secret.
4. One of the hotel’s original murals contains an obvious—and intentional—mistake. Penrose hired skilled Italian craftsmen in constructing the original Broadmoor interiors. Look up at the ceiling fresco in the mezzanine’s Center Lounge in the Main Building. There’s a dancing cherub whose feet are reversed. Local wisdom has it that the artist intentionally created the flaw in accordance with the dictum: Only God is perfect.
5. The hotel might have produced the most dedicated employee ever known. Louis Stratta was the Broadmoor’s executive chef from its opening on June 29, 1918. Though he eventually retired, he remained at his post in the kitchen until shortly before his death in 1976, when in his 80s. After he died, a drawer full of uncashed paychecks was discovered in his quarters on the Broadmoor grounds. Late in life, when he was preparing to visit family in his native Italy, a fellow employee had to take him clothes shopping, after learning his only apparel consisted of chef’s uniforms.
6. A sea lion once took a stroll inside the hotel. In the 1960s, several sea lions resided in the hotel’s central Cheyenne Lake. One day, one of the more seemingly adventurous among the creatures exited the lake and made its way to the hotel’s mezzanine. From there, it flopped down the escalator and over to the front desk, where it barked at arriving guests. The sea lions were subsequently relocated to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
7. It employs its own staff archivist. So intertwined is the Broadmoor with Colorado Springs at large, it hired an archivist in 2007 to review and acquire historic material related to the resort. “The Broadmoor is an integral part of this community,” says communications director Allison Scott. “It’s not just bricks and mortar.”
Allison Scott, Director of Communications, The Broadmoor email@example.com
Sally Spaulding, Percepture Public Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org