My husband and I used a milestone birthday and anniversary as an excuse to book a four-day escape without kids to this Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort at the foot of the Cheyenne Mountains. We spent one night at the magnificent Cloud Camp, a rustic luxury glamping property, then two nights amid more traditional indulgences at the main Broadmoor Hotel. It was like two extravagant Colorado vacations in one.
Four Days at The Broadmoor Resort Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs is far enough away from Atlanta that it was a true vacation, yet close enough that we didn’t spend all our time (in the midst of end-of-school and graduation craziness) traveling.
Similar to Sea Island, there is no way to cover all the wonderful activities at The Broadmoor, so I thought I’d tell you how we spent our visit, and a few tips on what we’d do differently next time.
Getting to the Broadmoor. Colorado Springs has its own airport and you can get decent flights from Atlanta on most airlines. We chose to fly into Denver International Airport and rent a car for the drive to Colorado Springs. This gave us the opportunity to visit nearby Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and the U.S. Air Force Academy before checking in. However, The Broadmoor offers car and shuttle service to and from both airports if you’d rather leave the driving to someone else.
Arriving at the Broadmoor. The Broadmoor is located at the end of a residential street at the base of the Cheyenne Mountains and it has a neighborhood feel. We spoke with folks in town who visit often for special dinners or events. In fact, we spent one evening at the Golden Bee Saloon, a sing-a-long bar that was packed with locals – always a good sign.
Art at The Broadmoor. The valet parked our car and the bellman greeted us by name and took our luggage. We had some time before getting a car to our first stop Cloud Camp, so we perused the boutiques and galleries. There are two art galleries at The Broadmoor. One is all western themed art, the other a broader collection.
In fact, the entire resort could be considered a western art museum. There are beautiful paintings and sculptures throughout the properties and it is worth carving out time to view them. A few of the pieces are originals, but only a handful of folks know which ones. Most are giclee replicas and if you look closely, you’ll find the same painting more than once throughout the various properties.
Cloud Camp: Rustic Luxury Glamping at The Broadmoor
Our stay was divided into two experiences, the Wilderness Experience at Cloud Camp, 9,000 feet above sea level, and a more traditional vacation at the Broadmoor resort’s main hotel. Below is our itinerary for both with our must dos, plus what we’d do differently, and some extra’s on our bucket list for next time.
A Mountain Side Zoo. Our driver Tim picked us up in a decked out Cadillac Escalade for the 8.1 mile, 35 minute drive up the side of Cheyenne Mountain to Cloud Camp, The Broadmoor’s wilderness retreat. In order to get to Cloud Camp, you must drive THROUGH the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. The giraffe feedings looked like a lot of fun and apparently the Australian Walkabout is a must do.
Getting to Cloud Camp. However, our animal encounter consisted of stopping at the Cloud Camp barn where we met our steeds, two retired Grand Canyon mules Norah and Bankston, for the final climb to camp. Both Norah and Bankston were more interested in sneaking a grassy snack than the path to our destination, easing us into the slower pace of life in the clouds. As we entered camp we were greeted by camp dogs Zoe and Max, and wonderful staff who had wet towels and drinks waiting.
Cooking Club at Cloud Camp. Don’t just come hungry to Cloud Camp, come starving. Cloud Camp is all-inclusive and they don’t skimp on meals, or snacks, or drinks. To get a glimpse of the magic in the kitchen, guests are invited to participate in Cooking Club.
My husband and I accepted an adult beverage and an apron and joined Chef Jonathon in the kitchen to learn how to make the asparagus soup and béarnaise sauce on the menu that evening. My husband was excited to report back to my son the techniques we learned for making the sauce. The two of them had tried, and failed to make something similar the week before.
Social Hour. Our work done in the kitchen, we retired to the patio for cocktails, appetizers, and conversation before dinner. This was one of my favorite things about Cloud Camp. There are only 11 one and two-bedroom cabins, so it’s a very intimate setting. It was fun to have other couples to talk to during dinner, and get to know, if only briefly.
Staff at camp were more like family friends who had invited us to their gorgeous mountain retreat for the weekend. They seemed to enjoy being there as much as we did and were truly excited to share their knowledge of the area.
What I’d do Different. You really want a minimum of two days to truly get the full experience at Cloud Camp. We did play one game of corn hole on the deck, but there were tons of games in the lodge as well. I took a dip in one of the three hot tubs, but I was hoping for a nap in the nearby hammock too.
Definitely take a guided hike, we did this on the way down the mountain with Enrique, who is not only a staffer, but an Eagle Scout to boot. He showed us old miner campsites, and took us to beautiful rock formations. If we had another day, I’d have liked to do more hiking on our own too.
The One Thing You MUST do at Cloud Camp. Set an alarm, and get up for sunrise. If you are coming from the East coast like we did, it’s not too bad to get up early, and it’s totally worth missing a few winks. Watching the world come alive from high above is a treat. And staff is already there with coffee made.
In addition, be sure to catch an appropriately patriotic flag ceremony in the evening, Nearby Pikes Peak was the inspiration for American the Beautiful, and rumor has it the song was written on Cheyenne Mountain. After dark, the resort and neighboring towns look like glistening jewels in a treasure chest.
More Outdoor Adventures at The Broadmoor. In addition to Cloud Camp, The Broadmoor has two more wilderness experiences I’m dying to try. There is the Ranch at Emerald Valley, a dude ranch, and The Broadmoor Fly Fishing Camp, an ORVIS endorsed fly-fishing lodge.
Traditional Luxury at The Broadmoor
The main Broadmoor Resort, a historic hotel opened in 1918 is a more traditional luxury experience similar to what you can expect at The Cloister at Sea Island. Activities and dining are al a carte (as opposed to the all-inclusive at Cloud Camp), and just like Sea Island, there is a dizzying array of activities and attentive, well trained staff. Here’s the plan for our two days, with some suggestions for next time.
Relax: Day 1 at The Broadmoor Resort
Lunch at The Grille. This casual links side restaurant is open to golfer and non-golfers, and is a great choice for families; indoor or outdoor seating; and OMG great food (ok that is everywhere, not just here). My menu suggestion, the Inspiration Hikers Salad. Read all about our thoughts on The Broadmoor restaurants (and and the Inspiration Salad recipe) here.
Property Tour. A great time to peruse the shops, take a look at the artwork, read about the ice skating history in the mini-museum located in the West Building, or just cozy up to the more than eight public fireplaces with a cocktail (there are 50 more in-room fireplaces).
The Spa at The Broadmoor. They had me at the warm robe and slippers. And when the massage therapist asked if there was anything special I’d like to focus on, she didn’t just work on my entire right side, she gave me some advice on how to make it feel better once I got home too.
The treatment’s here are first class and the relaxation rooms well appointed, but truthfully, although extremely nice, (sauna, steam, oxygen room, showers w/amenities, relaxing lounge areas w/to-go snack bags!!) is not quite as luxurious as Sea Island’s spa, which encompasses an entire building and includes among other things, a pond side relaxation area, and labyrinth – but then, few resort spas are like Sea Island.
Golf at The Broadmoor. While I relaxed at the spa, my husband headed to the golf club and the championship golf courses – during our stay the resort was preparing to host the US Senior Open.
My husband’s feedback on golf is the course is traditional and extremely fair for all levels especially the championship course. There are trees, but it isn’t tree lined. Although it’s at high elevation, (the base of the Cheyenne Mountains), the course itself isn’t too hilly.
Since we came from Atlanta, my husband rented Callaway Clubs. If you don’t have time for an entire round, you can rent the clubs and play on the driving range for just $25. A great deal in his mind.
Tennis Round Robins. My husband is a huge tennis player. Plays every week. I have not played tennis since my children were born, but I signed us up for the tennis round robin because I knew he’d have fun. Our opponents were a young couple from Denver area, and regular tennis players.
We had a great time on the tennis courts, even though I was clearly the weak link, and when I suggested the three of them play, was told nope, get back out there. We saw the couple again at dinner, and like Cloud Camp, it was fun to see familiar faces around the resort. I also learned The Broadmoor has great tennis clinics, perfect for the next girlfriends getaway.
Ristorante del Lago. We capped a perfect day with a delicious dinner. Normally I’m a dessert person, so the house-made desserts like tiramisu, cannoli and homemade gelato would normally be my first pick (even before ordering in-house made pasta entrée) but our waiter did such a good job selling the meats out of the aging room and cheese imported straight from Italy, that I had to get the antipasti platter. It did not disappoint and I’d forgo dessert again, which is really saying something.
High Adventure: Day Two at The Broadmoor
Soaring Adventure. I’ve been on a few zip lines in my day. My favorite in Georgia is at Banning Mills because it’s the most adventurous. I’d say our day soaring on the Woods course at the Broadmoor was similar. There are a couple rope bridges with drops from 150 – 550 feet, and the adventure factor goes from not too bad to Whoa! Speeds go from 15 miles and hour to 45 on the longest zip. My favorite is zip number three over the canyon — such gorgeous views.
We did not do Fins, the more advanced course, but did see one of the zips and THAT course, that course makes the Woods Course look like the bunny slope. On the Fins Course, the largest drop goes to 550 feet! We saw it from below at Seven Falls and it was crazy.
Seven Falls. Our zip line adventure ended along the trails of Seven Falls (admission is included in your zip line adventure). Seven Falls is an attraction from a by-gone era similar to Rock City or Ruby Falls near Chattanooga TN.
The falls drop 180 feet and pools in seven different areas all within a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon set between two rocks called the “Pillars of Hercules.”Be sure to leave time to truly visit Seven Falls and hike the trails. We had to get back for fly-fishing, or we could have stayed all day exploring.
The best part of going from the zip line instead of just visiting the attraction on it’s own is you climb DOWN the 224 steps to the bottom of the falls rather than climbing up to the trails.
1858 Restaurant. Located at the bottom of the Falls is 1858 restaurant, a perfect place for a quick bite, but don’t expect concession food, the items here are just as good as anything you’ll find at the main Broadmoor Hotel. Spend some time perusing the photos on the wall. See if you can find Walt Disney on his visit to Seven Falls.
Fly Fishing Experience. I’ve already mentioned the Broadmoor’s Fly Fishing Wilderness resort, but if that’s too much commitment, you can also do a fly-fishing experience at The Broadmoor resort. They have a stocked pond just a golf cart ride from the resort. Stephen, our guide gave us the basics then let us cast, coaching us through to score the big one. The fish had a few good runs and we caught and released several with various names I can’t remember. It was a great relaxing afternoon after our morning adventure.
La Taverne. A legendary steakhouse, La Taverne is not as swanky as the Penrose Room, but it’s definitely my kind of restaurant, from the straight forward menu that includes hand-cut prime steaks, and seafood to the relaxed atmosphere. Ask for the patio. It’s actually inside, but the lush vegetation and glass ceiling makes it feel bright and airy, as opposed to the darker interior tables. Learn more about our Broadmoor dining experiences here.
Penrose Heritage Museum. This is a bit hidden, so be sure to ask because you don’t want to miss this free museum on The Broadmoor property. In addition to lots of old carriages that belonged to Broadmoor founder Spenser Penrose, there is a section dedicated to Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, an insane automobile contest where crazy people race to the top of Pikes Peak. If you’ve ever driven that road, you’ll realize how scary it is going 10 miles an hour, much less 70.
Don’t forget the Freebies at The Broadmoor. In addition to all of the paid activities, there is a ton to do at The Broadmoor that is included in your resort fee, so be sure to look at the daily activity sheet. If you are traveling with children, there is a beautiful infinity pool with a large playground behind it, as well as an indoor pool and hot tub. A movie theatre showing popular movies is hidden off the lobby, during summer hours take a paddleboat out on Cheyenne Lake.
For those that want to stick to their exercise routine, there is a full-service fitness center with a variety of classes. The sidewalk around Cheyenne Lake at The Broadmoor is popular for joggers and walkers each morning.
Stay for Sunday Brunch. If you plan to leave Colorado Springs on Sunday, do yourself a favor and go after Sunday Brunch. All I have to say is 150 items. 150!! We happened to visit on Mother’s Day. Mothers received unlimited mimosas.
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