Fathom contributing editor Kate Donnelly checks into The Broadmoor, a legendary Colorado retreat from a bygone era.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Summer seemed like a good time to visit Colorado Springs. Around this time almost thirty years ago, I stayed at The Broadmoor with my family and had fond memories of the swimming pool, paddle boats, and movie theater. Plus, the weather forecast said sunny and no humidity, and the evenings promised cool, crisp temperatures. I invited my good friend and fellow spiritual seeker Kim Dunham on the journey; it seemed about right for two stressed New York city slickers to take in some rarefied air.
The Broadmoor's exterior hasn’t changed much over the decades. The fabled pink stucco grande dame looks as good as it did a century ago when its Gatsbyesque founder, Spencer Penrose (he made his fortune from mining) opened the place in 1918. There’s even a New York twist: The main resort building was designed by Warren and Wetmore (responsible for Grand Central Station) and the lush grounds are compliments of Frederick Law Olmsted (the architect of Central Park). As if on cue, swans glide around the resort's circular lake.
The resort maintains its genial, luxury accommodations and, under its current ownership (billionaire Philip Anschutz), there are two enticing new wilderness additions: a small, all-inclusive ten-cabin retreat known as The Ranch at Emerald Valley, and a mountain lodge called Cloud Camp floating 3,000 feet above the resort. The latter is mostly shrouded in haze, like a cozy mystery, but on a clear day it offers stellar views of Pikes Peak.
On my menu: fly fishing, horseback riding, high-altitude hiking, fire pits and cowboy coffee, hearty breakfasts (think cinnamon rolls baked in Staub pans), gourmet suppers using local freshwater fish and leafy vegetables plucked from the nearby gardens. A duo of sweet house labs (Rita and Zoe) round out the hospitality team. The world’s largest collection of Western art from Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington (some are giclee works; others are originals) rounds out the sights for sore eyes.
Back down at the Broadmoor and the real reason I came: the birds. Specifically, a one-of-a-kind falconry course with a new female falconer, Deanna Curtis, who not only educates guests on these majestic creatures, but offers a class giving folks a chance to have the birds of prey “cast off” from their arms and return. For an hour, I briefly felt like I was hanging out with Mordecia in The Royal Tenenbaums, except this bird didn’t fly away. It sounds cliché, but it’s a bucket list item, and it's exhilarating to watch them launch, fly, and spread their wings.
So, if you’re looking for an all-encompassing adventure trip with some wildlife and top-notch cuisine, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t leave without a frosty beer or tequila at the legendary Golden Bee (where it’s said George W. Bush gave up drinking after a binger). A bee sticker from the bar now graces the top of my suitcase (I also stuck one on Kim’s bag) as a more permanent symbol of all the outdoorsy memories.
My Advice: Two nights at Emerald, one night at Cloud Camp, and one night at The Broadmoor.