Over its 100-year history, The Broadmoor has had only three owners.
Steve Bartolin, who has worked for two of them, finds that remarkable. And while those three owners - Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose and his charitable El Pomar Foundation, Edward Gaylord and his Oklahoma Publishing Co., and Philip Anschutz - have left their individual marks on the resort, Bartolin says they also had something in common: "They've all had this sense of stewardship, a sense of community."
The Broadmoor was the vision of the Philadelphia-born Penrose, who made his fortune in mining and dreamed of a grand hotel nestled in the Rockies that matched the elegance and sophistication of the finest European resorts. But before his Broadmoor, there was John Pourtales' Broadmoor. The Prussian count had his own dream: "a pleasure palace reminiscent of the majestic casinos of Aix-les-Bains and Monte Carlo," as "The Broadmoor Story" puts it. His Broadmoor Casino, envisioned as part of a grand enclave to be called Broadmoor City, opened at the foot of Cheyenne Mountain on July 1, 1891 - Pourtales' 38th birthday. But the casino ultimately failed - and it was on the site of the count's collapsed dream that Penrose brought his vision to life.
Built for $2 million, The Broadmoor formally opened on June 29, 1918. "World travelers and connoisseurs of high art who have seen the new hotel pronounce it the last word in hotel building," that day's Colorado Springs Gazette proclaimed. It was a time for superlatives: Penrose touted that the hotel's 100,000-gallon indoor swimming pool was "the largest in the West," while famed golf architect Donald Ross deemed the resort's 18-hole golf course his "best work."
Penrose was a tireless promoter of not just The Broadmoor but of Colorado Springs. He built the Pikes Peak Highway, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. He bought the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and started the Pikes Peak Hill Climb (now The Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb).
"He's one of those giants of the Pikes Peak region," says Matt Mayberry, director of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
In Philadelphia, Penrose was considered the black sheep of the family compared to his prestigious older brothers. "He's one of those characters who moved West to reinvent himself," Mayberry says. And it worked: By the time Penrose started The Broadmoor, "he had become fabulously wealthy."
Penrose, Mayberry says, was interested in emerging technology and the auto. At the time he built The Broadmoor, "it was at kind of the beginning of the auto tourism era." That was essential to the success of The Broadmoor, considered "out in the country" at the time.
It's important to note, Mayberry says, that Penrose and his wife, Julie, were a team. "Julie was really important in creating the legacy of Spencer Penrose, especially in terms of his philanthropy - the El Pomar Foundation in particular."
The couple started the foundation in December 1937 "to encourage and promote the general well-being of the inhabitants of the State of Colorado" - and to support and guide the hotel after their deaths. Spencer Penrose died two years later, on Dec. 7, 1939; Julie died in early 1956. Under El Pomar, improvements continued to be made to The Broadmoor, from the now-defunct Ski Broadmoor to the addition of the Golden Bee pub to the opening of Broadmoor West in 1976.
"I give El Pomar a lot of credit for sustaining the Broadmoor," Bartolin says. But by the time El Pomar sold a controlling interest in The Broadmoor to Oklahoma Publishing Co. in 1988 - a move made necessary by a change in federal law - the Grande Dame of the Rockies was showing her age. Gaylord's Oklahoma Publishing became sole owner in 2004.
Luxury resorts faced the sudden rise of new competition in the 1980s, Bartolin says, as major brands such as Hilton and Westin entered the resort sector. For older resorts to keep up, "you really had to invest the capital necessary. As a nonprofit, El Pomar really couldn't justify that." So when Gaylord bought the resort, Bartolin says, it was in need of "significant capital improvement" - to the point that it was in danger of losing its coveted Mobil (now Forbes) five-star rating and AAA's five-diamond status. Bartolin, who was hired as president and CEO of The Broadmoor in 1991, was greeted with letters from those two groups in his first months on the job warning him of that possibility. He was able to ward off that threat, he says, by showing them the capital plans for the resort - and those plans were significant.
"The Gaylords really invested mightily, to the tune of in excess of $400 million," he says. First up was construction of the Spa, Golf and Tennis Club complex in 1994. The West Tower opened in 1995, adding 150 rooms. The Rocky Mountain Ballroom was added on the north end of Broadmoor West. A pedestrian bridge was built across the lake in 1997.
"Believe it or not," Bartolin says, "out of the hundreds of millions that we spent, one of the best things we did was create that bridge." Instead of a half-mile walk around the lake, guests and staff had a direct route from Broadmoor Main to Broadmoor West - "a very important thing," Bartolin says.
Other improvements included opening of the infinity pool and the Lakeside Suites in 2001 and a major renovation of Broadmoor Main, Northmoor and Southmoor. The Broadmoor Hall events center opened in 2005 under the leadership of Christy Gaylord Everest, who became CEO of Oklahoma Publishing Co. after her father's death.
"We just never stopped," Bartolin says. And that progress, he says, has continued under Anschutz - who, like Edward Gaylord, had grown up visiting The Broadmoor.
The Denver-based Anschutz Corp. bought The Broadmoor, along with the other assets of Oklahoma Publishing Co., in 2011. (The Gazette is owned by the Anschutz Corp.'s Clarity Media Group.)
Most significant under Anschutz's ownership has been the $57 million renovation of Broadmoor West, Bartolin says. He also notes the introduction of The Broadmoor Wilderness Experience, with properties such as The Ranch at Emerald Valley and Cloud Camp.
"It's a race without a finish line," Bartolin says, pointing to recent improvements including a makeover of The Broadmoor Golf Club and a remodeling of the lower lobby of Broadmoor Main.
"The Broadmoor has been the beneficiary of just having the best ownership there is," says Bartolin, who stepped down as president and CEO in 2015 and is now chairman. "As a result, we're sitting here in 2018, our 100th anniversary, as a very healthy, profitable, successful business that physically can compete with the very best resort assets in the world."