With a couple of exceptions my late summer vacation was refreshingly normal.
Situated on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, once known as the Evangelical Vatican, The Broadmoor has welcomed guests to the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain since industrialist Spencer Penrose opened the iconic hotel in 1918.
This isn’t one of those hotels using coronavirus as an excuse to cut costs at the expense of guests. Bellmen carried bags, valets parked cars and housekeepers kept everything immaculately clean.
Penrose Room, which holds the distinction of being Colorado’s only AAA five-diamond restaurant, is sadly closed, though other food-and-beverage outlets are open.
This includes the Grille with its old-school decor reminiscent of Ralph Lauren style. The gorgeous leather banquettes might be preferable to outside tables overlooking the golf course. Another option is Ristorante Del Lago, which as its name suggests serves Italian fayre.
Besides the nearly universal wearing of masks by guests and staff inside buildings the most noticeable difference was a change to pool operations.
To comply with social distancing and government-imposed capacity restrictions the hotel is requiring guests wanting to use the pool to reserve either a morning or afternoon block of time. While seemingly reasonable this didn’t work when I stayed.
On days with high occupancy rates the pool may be fully booked. Also, guests booking the morning block of time are required to leave the vast pool area even if there are openings for the afternoon. Yet this policy wasn’t uniformly applied as guests who paid for a premium cabana were allowed to stayover. Needless to say, this could be a big issue for some guests — particularly families with children.
Arguably the best part of The Broadmoor is just how many different experiences guests can have during their stay.
The hotel proper offers plenty to do and see, including roaming the hallways to discover an endless art collection of museum-quality originals and reproductions. A short walk away is the Roman Catholic consecrated Pauline Chapel with an interior that resembles an old church in Italy or Spain.
However, the best-kept secret is the experience one gets by staying at the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a sister property located about 30 minutes away by shuttle in the Rocky Mountains at 8,200 feet in elevation.
The ranch offers an all-inclusive, highly personalized level of service, thanks in part to an attentive general manager.
The 13 log cabins, which accommodate just 32 guests, combine rustic charm with the modern amenities expected for nightly rates that start at about $1,200.
Activities include horseback riding, cattle herding, fly-fishing, hikes and more. The only downside I experienced was an impossibly slow internet connection, though admittedly many guests appreciate having a legitimate excuse for being disconnected over the course of their stay.
The bottom line: The Broadmoor should be on everyone’s bucket list of places to stay. It is successfully handling the coronavirus challenges facing hotels and the broader tourism industry without compromising the standard guests expect and deserve.
Dennis Lennox writes about travel, politics and religious affairs. He has been published in the Financial Times, Independent, The Detroit News, Toronto Sun and other publications. Follow @dennislennox on Twitter.