It’s not easy being a single dad with three active kids, even if I get time off each week. Still, on a typical week I only get a few nights off, so it’s a wonderful thing when I can escape for a much needed breather, and when five-star Colorado hotel The Broadmoor invited my girlfriend and I to preview their splendid Valentine’s Day romantic getaway package, we jumped at the chance!
The experience was even better than we expected, and we both had high expectations before we even stepped foot on the property. I’ve spent a fair amount of time at big resorts, notably the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii and the Disney-owned Walt Disney World properties in Orlando, Florida, and was surprised at just how much they had to offer at The Broadmoor, including their own bookstore, children’s store, golf store, a half-dozen restaurants and at least as many bars and taverns, spread throughout its 3000 acres.
The resort was founded back in 1891 as a small hotel and casino. I can imagine the dusty cowboys riding off the plains and the rich folk taking the transcontinental railroad – completed less than 30 years earlier – to get to Colorado Springs and Pike’s Peak. The modern resort replaced the casino and was built in 1918 by Philly-based entrepreneur named Spencer Penrose who had amassed a fortune from mining claims at nearby Cripple Creek. After a grand tour through Europe’s finest hostelries, he famously decided to build a resort of his own, with no expense spared. The Broadmoor is the result of his wealth and enthusiasm.
What was our experience like? Amazing.
We checked in and found our room warm, comfortable and extremely quiet, even as there was some construction going on at one of the outbuildings. As you can see, it’s plush and cosy:
We didn’t have much time to unpack and get comfortable, though, because the first thing we had lined up was a couples massage at the Broadmoor Spa. To put this in context, I’ve had a lot of experience with massage therapy and frequently go to one or another local therapist in town (one benefit of being in Boulder, Colorado is that there are a lot of skilled practitioners in the area).
The Spa is quite famous in Colorado and justifiably so. It’s luxurious in a way that I’m definitely not used to experiencing: I realized most of my massages are in a room that doubles as a hair salon, therapist’s office or has some other primary purpose. To be at a proper Spa was lovely and far more relaxing. In fact, with its many lounge areas, platters of fruit and trendy custom-blend teas, it was the kind of luxury I’d like to get used to experiencing.
Unlike some massage centers where a “couples massage” can mean that you’re in separate rooms and that the only couple-related element is a small discount on the price, at the Broadmoor Spa we had a special couples room — with fireplace! — and had our tables set up just a few feet apart. 75 extraordinarily relaxing minutes later, we were both ready to try out their steam room and aromatherapy rooms. Unfortunately, the steam rooms are not co-ed so we parted, just to meet up again 30 minutes later in the main Spa lounge to nibble on fresh pineapple and watermelon.
DINNER AT THE SUMMIT
We reluctantly left the Spa after a few hours of pampering and went back to the room to change for dinner. There are a number of different restaurants at The Broadmoor, notably including the formal Penrose Room, but our reservations were for the chic and trendy Summit restaurant, known for its eclectic wine selection as much as its menu.
From the moment we saw the signage outside the restaurant, it felt like a dining experience at Walt Disney World much more than a meal at a hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. All that was missing was warm weather and someone dressed up as Mickey Mouse. Actually, we didn’t miss the latter, but the weather could have been a tad warmer…
Dinner started with the friendly staff demonstrating great savvy about gluten-free options, including item-by-item advice on how they could modify menu items to make them truly gluten-free, and the server bringing out a stack of gluten-free bread (from local Colorado bakery Udi’s) that was a tasty appetizer, along with parmesan gnocchi and a light garden salad.
Our meals were bacon-wrapped swordfish and “angry trout” (photo, below), both of which were splendid, particularly given that we’re in a landlocked state, not convenient to the coast.
Dessert was the weak link: we had butternut squash ice cream and pineapple-vanilla sorbet and while the sorbet was better than the ice cream, neither was as impressive as all the courses prior. We probably should have skipped dessert or tried a more popular item like the flourless chocolate cake…
After dinner we popped around the corner to the famous Golden Bee, a British-style pub known for its sing-alongs. In fact, every table has lyric books and the pianist calls out the number of the song as he starts playing so you can find the lyrics in time to join in. The night we were there, however, it was pretty quiet, with over half the tables vacant. Still fun, with music varying from Neil Diamond to The Beatles to college fight songs, but it’d clearly be tremendous, crazy fun on a night with lots of people and perhaps a drink or two extra flowing from the bar.
Back at the room, the bed was comfortable and the room was blissfully quiet and peaceful, quite conducive to a good night’s sleep. There’s the usual hotel room amenity of a big television staring at the bed, but neither of us are TV watchers, so it stayed off the whole time, as did the little TV inset into the wall in the bathroom. I suppose if you’re obsessively glued to Bloomberg TV or The Food Channel, it would be delightful to have multiple screens, but I’m a big fan of peace and quiet. Perhaps it’s because I have three kids. Perhaps.
BREAKFAST AND CHECKOUT
The next morning we reluctantly got out of bed to a cold morning — indeed, a major storm was heading into Colorado that afternoon, so we didn’t tarry too long lest we get stuck in The Springs, unable to get back home to Denver and Boulder. A hot shower, plush towels and a gorgeous view of the clouds rolling over Pike’s Peak helped improve the morning, and we walked to the Lake Terrace restaurant for breakfast, the last part of our Valentine’s Day special preview.
For breakfast we ordered a Denver omelette and poached eggs with veggies, and I added a café latte to my order. The food was light, modest in size, and very tasty, served with grilled potatoes and a skewer of fresh veggies. The bonus with the coffee was that it’s served with a stirrer of rock candy, basically crystalized sugar. Really good to chew on or use in the coffee, though generally I have my coffee without sweetener. A nice surprise, and the entire meal was delicious.
All too soon, though, we needed to pack up and drive back to Denver. We’d valet parked, so we handed our ticket to the attendant and just a few minutes later the car pulled up and they helped us pack our suitcases back into the car. With a last sigh we drove down the majestic main driveway and onto the highway, northward and back to the reality of our lives.
Our short visit to The Broadmoor, with a couples massage, chic fish dinner, plush, quiet room and delicious breakfast felt like a long weekend holiday, and was quite refreshing. Which was good, because 24-hours later we were waking up to 20″ of snow and a surprise snow day with the kids, so the break was much needed.
The Valentine’s Day Package
The official Valentine’s Day package from The Broadmoor includes:
* 15% discount on select retail purchases
* Complimentary access to an evening of live music and dancing on February 11 or 18, 2012
* $50 Breakfast credit per night of the package
* Suites at 40% off of published rates
Package prices starting at $125 per person, per night based on double occupancy. Package available February 10 through 19, 2012 but live music and dancing are only available February 11 and 18, 2012.
Oh, and the amenities we enjoyed? This is the “disclosure” part, as we didn’t pay for anything other than drinks at The Golden Bee.
According to the team at The Broadmoor, our massage was $171/person, an average dinner for two at The Summit is $108, and our breakfast ran about $40. The deluxe room we had also cost $240 for the night. Total cost of our overnight getaway was about $750, but if we’d have flown to Scottsdale or Santa Fe, we’d have spent half of that just on airfare, so all told, it seemed very reasonable given the amenities we enjoyed.
Most importantly, we’d definitely go back!
The Broadmoor is a hidden gem here in Colorado. Colorado Springs is not known as a chic or trendy city but is more famous for the Air Force Academy and the headquarters of the conservative organization Focus on the Family, so it’s rather amazing that this 3000 acre resort is tucked into a quiet corner of the city. But it’s worth the drive from Denver, and even if you can only stop by on a summer afternoon for a sandwich at the poolside grill, I can’t speak highly enough about what a pleasure it is to visit The Broadmoor.