Spencer “Spec” Penrose, the black sheep of a prominent Philadelphia family, bought the land for this luxury hotel complex in 1916 for $90,000 in cash. Once a dairy farm, the site, with its man-made lake, had earlier been transformed into a resort by Count James Pourtales, another eastern adventurer. Penrose hired Whitney Warren and Charles D. Wetmore, whose New York firm built New York City's Ritz-Carlton and Biltmore hotels. They designed a hotel in an Italianate style, nine stories with a tower and decorative frieze, of pink stucco with red tile roofs. Penrose lavished $3.1 million on the hotel before its 1918 grand opening. He adorned it with fine domestic and imported art, including the seventeenth-century Venetian fountain in the entry garden and five carved heads of Bacchus, each lusty in his own way, over the five main entry arches.
The Tavern (1918) is a wood-paneled retreat hung with original Toulouse-Lautrec posters. Thousands of liquor bottles line the walls leading to the restrooms, and Penrose boasted of being present when most of them were opened. At the Tavern's north end is the Garden Room (1953), a glass-roofed, stone-floored dining patio with luxuriant plantings. The Broadmoor Casino, now the Golf Clubhouse (1898, Thomas MacLaren), enveloped by a new south wing of the main hotel, is the oldest structure in the complex, moved to its present site in 1916.
A lakeside walkway helps to integrate the original hotel with newer structures such as Broadmoor South (1961). The Broadmoor West (1976, Carlisle B. Guy and Associates), an understated addition, uses the original's pinkish stucco and red tile in a contemporary design. The International Center (1961, Carlisle B. Guy and Edwin A. Francis), under a hyperbolic paraboloid roof, houses the Golden Bee Pub in the basement with a splendid, ornate African mahagony back bar and matching furnishings. The Carriage House Museum (1936, A. G. Jan Ruhtenberg) houses twenty-eight vehicles, ranging from an 1850 Concord stagecoach to a car that belonged to Spencer Penrose's wife, Julie, a 1928 Cadillac customized in Paris with solid silver handles, unborn calfskin upholstery, and a speaking tube to direct the chauffeur. The 2,400-acre Broadmoor Hotel complex also contains a ski area, a shopping village, and its own greenhouse. Long Colorado's premier resort hotel, the Broadmoor perennially outshines competitors in guidebook ratings.