The Diamond Standard

The Broadmoor at 100
Greg Tasker

Not long ago, an elderly couple driving a rental car from Denver to a planned getaway at The Broadmoor, the luxurious European-style resort at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, blew a tire just as they arrived in Colorado Springs.

Shortly after pulling over to the side of the road, a young man stopped and offered his assistance. He changed the tire, refused a gratuity, and drove away.

“As the couple pulled into The Broadmoor, who do you think was standing there waiting in his doorman’s attire … the same guy,” recounts Steve Bartolin, chairman of The Broadmoor, sharing a letter of gratitude from the couple. “He had no idea they were Broadmoor guests, and they had no idea he was an employee.”

While the act of kindness did not occur on The Broadmoor grounds, the couple nonetheless equated the young man’s willingness to help travelers with the training he received at the venerable hotel and further cemented the hotel’s sterling reputation.

“It’s the kind of character we look for when we hire people,” said Bartolin, who served as chief executive officer and president of The Broadmoor until 2015. “We hire first and foremost people with the right attitude. We can train experience, but we can’t train attitude.”

That commitment to instilling excellent service in its staff has helped The Broadmoor earn AAA’s coveted Five Diamond Award for 42 consecutive years, an accomplishment unmatched by any other hotel in North America. The 2018 Five Diamond Award comes as the resort celebrates its centennial this year.

“To be recognized year after year for a level of excellence in our industry is an honor,” says Jack Damioli, CEO and president of The Broadmoor. “That honor is not just given out, it must be earned—not just by any one department, or any one person, but by a team that is fully committed to giving its very best to each guest who walks through our doors. What this designation represents to us as a historic, 100-year-old resort is continued validation that we are meeting and exceeding expectations. We are recognizing change and moving in a direction to serve our guests in a way that they have come to expect from us. We take great pride in this.”

Grand Dame of the Rockies

The Penrose Suite sun room offers amble seating for groups to enjoy its warmth and all-season views. Courtesy of The Broadmoor

Begun in 1976, the Five Diamond Award ratings guidelines, updated every five years, honor outstanding guest services and well-maintained buildings and grounds. In the case of The Broadmoor, the extensive grounds include the Italianate, Renaissance-style hotel—a series of pink stucco buildings connected by walkways and surrounding a man-made lake. Guests and locals alike stroll the walkways, framed by well-manicured grounds and gardens and stunning mountain views.

“When we look at the Five Diamond rating, The Broadmoor stands out,” said Linda Cavanagh, president of AAA Colorado. “This is absolutely a luxurious property—the ultimate in sophistication and comfort, with extra physical attributes that set an impeccable standard of excellence.”

Spencer Penrose, The Broadmoor’s founder, made his riches in the local mines and other endeavors. When he opened the “Grand Dame of the Rockies” in 1918, he modeled The Broadmoor after European hotels with first-rate service and cuisine.

Over the decades, that commitment to first-rate service has not waned. The Broadmoor’s high level of personable service begins as soon as guests arrive and continues through check-in and across the board, from the bellhop to room services to dining and activities at any of the resort’s amenities, which include golf, swimming, tennis and spa services. Guests never pass a Broadmoor employee in the hotel or on the vast grounds without a friendly hello.

“This place is in high esteem in the hospitality industry, without question,” said Bill Wood, vice president of Travel Information and Content Publishing for AAA’s National Office in Heathrow, Fla. Wood is the executive responsible for AAA’s Diamond rating and inspection program.

“The thing that I think has made The Broadmoor successful for more than 40 years is the slavish consistency to the quality training of the staff,” Wood said. “The people they employ are totally committed to making guests feel like they’re at home.”

Like the doorman who helped the stranded couple, Broadmoor employees receive extensive training, including a two-day resort orientation, followed by one to several weeks of instruction, and after 90 days, a refresher class called “Keep up with the Stars.” Beyond annual meetings for resort and guest updates, employees can enroll in Broadmoor University, which offers more than 90 hospitality courses.

“Training is very important to The Broadmoor experience,” Damioli said.

Evolving expectations

The Broadmoor’s remodeled lobby evokes its founding 100 years ago, but incorporates check-in technology that meets the evolving expectations of its guests. Courtesy of The Broadmoor

The Broadmoor has managed to maintain its Five Diamond rating over the decades even as the AAA’s standards and guests’ expectations have evolved.

In 1976, the quality of bedding, flooring and furniture would likely have been on the “leading edge” at the time, said Todd Cronson, regional manager AAA Inspections and Diamond Ratings, noting there’s a continuing evolution for hotels to stay on top.

AAA updated its Five Diamond Rating Guidelines this year to reflect shifting expectations, placing importance on connective technologies. Twenty-first century travelers want free Wi-Fi and USB ports, but also robust mobile apps, interactive kiosk, mobile key technology and digital messaging.

“Today, there’s a lot more electronics. You can text the concierge or take your iPad in your guest room and order room service on it instead of the phone,” Cronson said. “Technology has become more important, but the fundamentals have not changed—outstanding guest services and physical properties. The expectations are still high.”

As the resort celebrates its centennial, the Broadmoor Main and the Gold Club, two of the hotel’s cornerstones, underwent a “refresh.” The Broadmoor of 2018 is far different than The Broadmoor of 1918. The hotel has managed to remain relevant, updating its amenities but also honoring its past.

To expand the 100-year-old main lobby, designers reimagined the space, removing walls and providing a grand entry experience. The intent was to keep everything like the original vision in 1918 and return the building to its roots as a lobby. Some retail shops that intruded on the original space are gone, and now there is more seating for guests, including two exquisite areas with sofas and gas fireplaces.

The lobby expansion required extending the floor’s marble and hand-painted ceiling. Additional artwork from the resort owner’s extensive collection has also been added to the lobby.

Upgrades of Broadmoor Main rooms and suites, including the historic Penrose Suite, include new colors, furniture, and carpeting to match the residential look and feel of the recently renovated Broadmoor West.

The legend of The Penrose Suite is integral to the history of the resort. Courtesy of The Broadmoor

Beyond tradition

AAA’s Five Diamond standards have set the benchmark for The Broadmoor, as well as for luxury in the hospitality industry, going beyond service and physical attributes to include ambiance.

“AAA has long recognized the importance of the ‘feel’ of a property. Does this ‘feel’ organically work in the environment of the hotel or resort and complement it? Does the lobby décor, staff uniforms, restaurants and guest rooms all work together to enhance the guest experience?” Damioli said. “Lastly, we also base all of our staff training on the AAA Five Diamond standards at the resort. These are the standards in which our guests expect to be served to ensure a quality and memorable visit.”

In the past decade, under the ownership of Philip Anschutz, The Broadmoor renovated its West building to complement the architecture of the main building. It opened Ristorante del Lago, featuring a menu inspired by Italy’s Piedmont region. The chef and his staff traveled to Italy to learn authentic recipes and cooking styles from locals.

Three wilderness lodges extend the guests’ lodging experience beyond the main campus: Cloud Camp, high on Cheyenne Mountain; Fly Fishing Camp; and the Ranch at Emerald Valley—each offering rustic yet luxurious lodging with the opportunity to hike, mountain bike, fly fish or go horseback riding.

The Broadmoor also expanded activities closer to the main campus, beyond traditional resort offerings. The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure allows guests to zip line through isolated, rugged canyons, and at The Broadmoor Seven Falls, guests can hike trails in and around the cascading water, less than a mile from the resort.

“The Broadmoor aspires to greatness,” AAA’s Cavanagh said. “Mr. Penrose loved Colorado Springs and its majestic mountains. He picked this spot to build his hotel and resort, his vision setting a course for what was to come. The Broadmoor has never lost that vision.”

The Broadmoor celebrated its centennial at a gala event on June 2, 2018. Among the attendees (left to right): Steve Bartolin, chairman of The Broadmoor; Gary DeFrange, chairman of AAA Colorado; Linda Cavanagh, president and CEO of AAA Colorado; and Jack Damioli, president and CEO of The Broadmoor. Courtesy of The Broadmoor

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Greg Tasker is a frequent visitor to The Broadmoor since he discovered the resort on an assignment for Cadillac Magazine a few years ago.