Purple Mountain’s Majesty and Old World Elegance

By | Category: Travel destinations
the view from the resorts' cloud cam

the view from the resorts’ cloud cam

Arriving at the circular grand driveway of the Broadmoor Hotel & Resort my body seemed to start its relaxation process, as the valet parking attendant opens the door for me. “Welcome back,” he says with a smile, whisking me out of my chariot and beginning my entrée into tranquility. I look up at the arched overhang of the entrance, with its midnight blue “sky” and glittering silver stars, and begin the transformation to a small, perfect world of beauty and grace.

I check in at the marble and oak grand reception desk, and glide up the escalator to the main lobby, filled with frescoes, statuary and plump sofas where I could sit for hours. But instead, I am lured outside to the property’s peaceful lake, centered among its various buildings. Gazing at the languorous swans, I stroll down the lakeside path along the orange-red Italian sandstone buildings and marveled at Pikes Peak’s ‘purple mountain’s majesty’ (from the Star Spangled Banner, the U.S. national anthem,) looming over the turquoise lake and green willows surrounding it.

how it looks today...

how it looks today…

The majestic Broadmoor Hotel & Resort in Colorado Springs, Colorado is the longest-running consecutive winner of both the AAA Five-Diamond and the Forbes/Mobile Travel Guide Five-Star awards. The European-style ‘grande dame’ property is an exquisite, long standing fixture in Colorado, with majestic Pikes Peak crowning its beauty. The Spa, opened to the public in 2005, is one of the few spas in the United States to receive the Forbes Five Star rating.

The property, with its Italian Renaissance architecture, has attracted visitors since 1918. The Broadmoor’s elegant Penrose Room is the only Five-Star, Five-Diamond restaurant in Colorado, while the property also boasts 54 holes of championship golf, six tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools (including an infinity pool at the end of the lake,) a private retail shopping area and many activities and programs for guests of all ages. The Broadmoor is like a world unto itself, and indeed, its international staff hails from so many nations it adds to that worldwide ambiance.

Founded as a spa resort town in 1871, the discovery of gold on the western slope of Pike’s Peak triggered Colorado Springs’ late nineteenth century prosperity. Once called the “City of Millionaires,” wealthy Spenser Penrose envisioned the area as a tourist magnet with unique natural landscapes and over 300 sunny days a year. Penrose opened The Broadmoor resort in 1918 and founded the neighboring Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in 1926. It’s still in existence and is one of the world’s few mountainside zoos.

...and how it looked in the beginning

…and how it looked in the beginning

The Broadmoor’s country setting features various types of rooms and suites overlooking the central Lake Cheyenne, with its paddleboats and elegant white trumpeter swans and geese lining the banks. Activities and entertainment abound here, such as jazz, culinary and music weekends, indoor and outdoor pools, a full-service spa and fitness center, shops, 54 holes of golf and a cinema. A pleasant two-block stroll leads to the U.S. Olympic World Figure Skating World Hall of Fame and Museum, small admission fee charged.

Colorado Springs also offers a surprising wealth of sightseeing attractions, such as Pikes Peak, which is not the highest mountain in Colorado. Yet, its renown tops any of the others in the state, and in fact prompted pioneers to proclaim their goal of “Pikes Peak or Bust,” when they dreamed of heading to the American West. Indeed, with its dramatic locale right at the edge of the Great Plains, countless wagon trains enjoyed it as their first sighting of the promised land beyond.

the cog railway

the cog railway

Today, one can easily travel all year-round to the top of Pikes Peak on a cog railway. The over 100-year-old Manitou and Pikes Peak is the highest railway in North America and the Northern Hemisphere. By the way, it has a perfect safety record, and its top speed is about 9 miles per hour.

On the 8.9 mile, 3 hour round trip, riders pass through eight distinct life zones, and will probably see yellow-bellied marmots, big horn sheep and mule deer, as well as an occasional turkey or eagle. During the trip, passengers will pass through streams, stands of blue spruce, bristlecone and Ponderosa pines, ending up in Alpine tundra above timberline, allowing for incredibly expansive views.

When they reach the top, they are greeted with an exhilarating, if somewhat bracing, blast of chilly air – even in August. Peering out into seeming infinity, to the east stretches the Great Plains out beyond the border of Colorado and Kansas. If the weather is clear, it’s possible to see the skyscrapers of downtown Denver. Riders are allowed 30 to 40 minutes on the top of Pikes Peak, where they take in the views, and step inside the large and well-stocked Summit House gift shop, to partake of the world’s best ‘high-altitude’ doughnuts. Summit House insists that doughnuts should theoretically not be able to be made at such a height – but here, they are, and winningly so.

no wonder it takes 3 hours

no wonder it takes 3 hours

Lines are long, so don’t be late!

Prices for the cog railway start (winter rates) at $27 for adults and $15.50 for children 3-12. During the winter’s volatile weather season, the train may not be able to reach the summit. Reservations are advised, particularly during the summer season.

From the UK or Ireland, there are no direct flights to Colorado Springs. British Airways flies directly to Denver and you can change there to their codeshare partner or take a hire car as the distance is only 80 miles. Alternatively, American Airlines has links from Dallas-Fort Worth, United Airlines links from Houston and  Chicago. The fastest links via Delta are through Atlanta.

Images © Broadmoor Hotel & Resort and The Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway









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