|By Andrew Wineke, The Gazette, Colorado
Springs, Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 9, 2009--This is The Broadmoor's idea of a cottage: a 150-square-foot bathroom with heated tiles, a 450-square-foot bedroom, a 42-inch high-definition television, a view of the 18th fairway on the East Course, surrounded by $1.2 million in landscaping and a man-made stream trickling by with a waterfall outside to provide a soothing soundscape.
The Broadmoor Cottages consist of five eight-room cottages and a sixth four-room unit, with two small parlors and a "grand" parlor in each of the eight-room cottages. They are the largest, and among the most expensive, rooms the five-star hotel offers.
"Unfortunately, when you hear the word 'cottage,' you think 'small,'" said John Washko,
The Broadmoor's vice president of sales and marketing. "They are the largest guest rooms and bathrooms on the whole property."
The $18.5 million cottage project caps a $55 million round of improvements and additions at the hotel, which itself followed a series of expansions that totaled $250 million.
"I learned long ago that great hotels and resorts evolve," said Broadmoor President Steve Bartolin. "We always want to do new and exciting things."
Like the hip Summit restaurant, the cottages are a change of pace for the venerable hotel.
"The definition of a cottage is simplicity," said Cindy Johnson, The Broadmoor's in-house designer, who picked out the fabrics and decorations for the cottages. "This is very different from the main building. That's very fussy and fancy and ornate. This is more relaxed."
Trying to explain the cottage concept to longtime customers was tricky, Washko said.
"It's difficult to articulate what this product is," he said. "People always think of time shares."
The cottages are not, for the record, time shares. They're more akin to a hotel suite, where a family or group of friends might rent out part or all of one of the 6,300-square-foot cottages for the weekend.
"Some people want to be in the heart of the action," Washko said. "Other people want to get away."
Washko sees the properties, which start at about $650 a night per room (ranging up to $7,650 for an entire eight-room cottage), appealing to families, golfing groups and wedding parties.
"A lot of people, when they add things, do more of the same," he said. "This is adding inventory, but it's completely different from our existing offerings."
Steve Ducoff, executive director of the Pikes Peak Lodging Association, said The Broadmoor will stand out by trying something new.
"I think it's unique and probably of benefit to The Broadmoor and the area," he said.
The new rooms come online at a low point for the hospitality industry. The Broadmoor hasn't been immune from the worldwide recession. Washko said the hotel's convention business is off by 20 percent. The Broadmoor is hoping leisure travelers will help fill that gap this summer, something the cottages could help with. Still, he said, this summer will serve to introduce the cottages to returning guests, who he hopes will consider them in the future.
"We know we're opening an all-suite product in a soft economy," he said. "We knew in '08 that '09 was going to be a struggle."
Washko said the hotel considered adding an additional 5- or 6-story tower on the site, but decided that the cottages fit the setting better and provide a better backdrop for the final hole on the East Course. With the downturn in the economy, that aesthetic decision proved to be good business, too.
"I'm really glad we're not adding a couple hundred units in this environment," he said.
Cottages at The Broadmoor are actually a return to the past. Count James Pourtales, who formed the Broadmoor Land and Investment Co. and built a casino and hotel on the site in 1891, planned to build cottages. Spencer Penrose, who built the current hotel in 1918, also planned for 10 cottages ringing the hotel's circular drive.
Those cottages never came to fruition, although reproductions of Penrose's plans and blueprints are now decorations on the walls of their modern descendents.
"This is kind of a fulfillment of both Count Pourtales' and Spencer Penrose's original vision," Bartolin said.
Call the writer at 636-0275.
THE BROADMOOR COTTAGES
What: Five eight-room cottages and one four-room cottage
Where: Just east of the 18th hole of The Broadmoor's East Course
When: Opening today
How much: Offseason rates begin at $650 a night for one room. Summer rates for an entire, eight-room cottage are $7,650 a night.
Information: 634-7711, www.broadmoor.com
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Copyright (c) 2009, The Gazette, Colorado Springs, Colo.
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