How do they do it? Luxury resorts, like the Broadmoor, host “regular” folks like me, but often you walk through the historic halls or dine at one of their on-site restaurants, and experience a celebrity sighting. How does The Broadmoor balance a secure environment for their high-profile guests, without sacrificing The Broadmoor experience for others?
From hosting celebrities to political figures including U.S. Presidents and events for Homeland Security, the legendary Broadmoor in Colorado Springs has a long history of discreetly and flawlessly handling high-profile, high-security events. In fact, its history of handling such events began in the first opening week, over Independence Day in 1918, with a major golf tournament benefiting the war efforts by the Red Cross. Two famous individuals competed during a golf tournament to raise over $10,000.
According to Beth Davis, archivist of The Broadmoor, “We are fortunate that someone had the foresight to save a handwritten notebook recording the conferences, conventions, and meetings, from 1918 – 1940, that included the number of attendees and room costs. The records show an impressive number of events, and even during those early days, The Broadmoor was known for its flawless execution of meetings of all sizes since its 1918 opening.”
Since then, events have ranged from fundraisers and National Girl Scout Conventions to sorority groups and major corporate events. This past weekend, The Broadmoor hosted the 9th annual Weekend of Jazz, and the smoothness of the flow of the hundreds of people in attendance is mind-boggling.
At the beginning, security was handled by an in-house security force, says Davis. “The Broadmoor was not incorporated into the city of Colorado Springs until the 1980s, so the hotel provided ‘house detectives’ to protect guests. In our original list of employees from 1918, Tom Gavin is listed as the Chief House Officer of the Broadmoor Hotel Co.”
However, security isn’t simply about protection for big groups or heads of states, according to Davis. “Broadmoor guests have also included prominent, influential people from communities throughout the U.S. These guests would spend the entire summer season, 2-3 months, at the Broadmoor. They’d bring their trunks, maids and butlers for an extended stay. To them, security was much more than the issue of safety. They wanted to feel at home, and sometimes anonymous, inside the Broadmoor’s expansive grounds.”
Whether a Broadmoor guest is a celebrity, top political figure, corporate group, or “regular” guest, security continues to be a priority at The Broadmoor.
Security begins with the physical layout of its property. As expansive as the Broadmoor grounds are – all 300 acres, it’s fully fenced, campus setting with only two arteries into the property with two entrances, leading entrances, provides the basics for a secure environment. The Broadmoor can shut down the entire resort, if necessary.
For example, for a high-level NATO event, all Broadmoor staff parked off-site and were screened through metal detectors before entering the grounds. Once inside, employees’ credentials dictated where they could or could not go on property. If a housekeeper was scheduled to work in the South Tower, she wasn’t allowed on the West side. In addition, the staff may not even know what event is actually on-site.
It can get logistically complicated after that. One day Heads of States, followed by a major corporation’s annual sales meeting, then several executive board meetings, while simultaneously a celebrity blocks a wing and a U.S. President spends the evening. There are few public places, like the Broadmoor, that NATO can go to and feel comfortable and that a resort can pull off all the moving parts to hosting 51 defense ministers from around the world.
Yet physical security is just one aspect that defines the success of any event.
The coordination of these events look seamless, but the intricacies are quite amazing, according to John Rovie, Director of Sales. There is often a significant lapse of time between the booking process of these high-level events and the actual event.
That’s why Broadmoor’s security begins before someone is even hired. Potential employees always go through background checks, extensive screening, and training. Once hired, then depending on the event, those employees may undergo many more independent background checks.
Rovie says, “Few places in the world can create a secure environment that even NATO can feel comfortable, which is why Broadmoor security is a lot more than what you see. All events define the quality of The Broadmoor and how our Broadmoor team flawlessly pulls off a well-orchestrated and coordinated effort.”
“It’s easier to serve the needs of individual guests,” says Rovie. “They check in, got to their room, book their spa treatments, play golf, ask the concierge for tour suggestions. That’s the basics of hospitality, but mix in multiple set-ups, F&B requirements, banquet event orders, meeting resumes – and we’ve sometimes added telephone books of info to disseminate throughout the property to share with everyone from stewards to housekeeping to banquet staff.”
The Broadmoor often adds into the mix out-of-the-box requests. These political groups often travel in delegations, and room assignments can be like juggling water balloons. Certain countries prefer not to be located next to a rival country. Each country has certain dietary requirements. Within each delegation, there are also subgroups, and besides the core meeting, those groups also require meeting space. One initial group booking may also include dozens of breakout meeting rooms.
To host an event of this caliber, the resort must bring the full package to the table. Security may be important, but these types of events also require exceptional quality of guest rooms, accommodations, meeting space, food and beverage, and staff to meet the high expectations of this profile of attendee.
With such an intricately woven operation, one glitch can be catastrophic, but Washko says that’s the beauty of the Broadmoor and its employees. “Events come and go, but what remains the same is the pride that our staff has taken in the more than 100 years The Broadmoor has hosted these events. Whether it’s an employee with 50-year tenure, or a new hire, we are all proud to be affiliated with a team of this caliber that can successfully pull off all the working cogs of events of this caliber. To make it all happen is energizing.”
Whether it’s presidential and gubernatorial gatherings, a celebrity stay, a corporate event, a romantic getaway, or family vacation, maintaining a secure and safe environment is an important part of the fabric of the legendary Broadmoor’s long and successful history.
The Broadmoor RATES: Winter rack rates starts at $300. Summer rack rates at $420. However, discounted hotel room rates and/or packages are often available online. You can also book The Broadmoor through Expedia.
Article and Photos by Diana Rowe, accommodations courtesy of The Broadmoor.