Billionaire businessman Philip Anschutz was brainstorming about the future.
Stephen Bartolin Jr., president and CEO of Colorado’s iconic Broadmoor resort, recalls talking with the reclusive tycoon after Anschutz acquired the Broadmoor from Oklahoma Publishing Co. a couple of years ago. “Phil said to me, ‘Steve, I want the Broadmoor to be not just America’s premier resort. I want it to be the most unique resort there is. Really different.’”
The landmark property in Colorado Springs lacked ocean-front views and other natural resort-style attributes, Anschutz knew, of course. But it was adjacent to 100,000 acres of the Rocky Mountains’ Pike National Forest. “How do we make that our ocean?” Anschutz asked.
Part of Bartolin’s answer to Anschutz was a historic former logging camp located eight miles up the road from the Broadmoor itself, surrounded by the national forest. “I knew the person who owned” the old logging camp, Bartolin remembers. “He called and said, ‘Are you interested in buying this?’ So I drove Phil up there in the middle of the winter in an old Lexus. He was chewing on a cigar. I said, ‘It’s going to take a lot of money to renovate.’ He said, ‘We got that.’”
Which is how, after pumping $5.5 million into the property’s redo, the Broadmoor came to open its Ranch at Emerald Valley to its first guests last fall.
The rustic, 10-cabin complex at 8,200 feet above sea level actually was owned at one time by Spencer Penrose, the founder of the Broadmoor resort. He bought the property in 1923 and dubbed it Camp Vigil, after the 10,000-foot-tall peak that soars above it. Over the years the site has been used as a church retreat, a corporate retreat, a Girl Scout camp, and a dude ranch. The boxer Jack Dempsey once holed up there for a month to train for a fight.
These days, boxing is likely to be the last thing on the minds of guests staying in the cozy one-, two-, or three-bedroom cabins. Those cabins are outfitted in a rustically soothing Colorado style, with wood-burning fireplaces, Western art, native-woven rugs on hardwood floors, leather furniture, and modern, “five-star” bathrooms with Euro-showers.
Outdoors, there’s plenty to do. You might try fly fishing for trout, for example, in the property’s two ponds. Certainly there are plenty of fish to be caught. I’m strictly a novice, but, with the help of fishing guide Brad Tomlinson of the Peak Fly Shop, I snagged a 15-inch cutthroat with an Amy’s Ant on my fourth or fifth cast. Tomlinson also will take guests to fish in the nearby Arkansas and South Platte rivers, which he calls “two of the best trout streams in Colorado and the continental U.S.”
Or you may want to thread your way on horseback through the Pike’s thick stands of aspen, oak, and pine trees. The rides are arranged by the Stables at the Broadmoor, located on the ranch. Led by 19-year-old wrangler Kaylee Zickefoose, who’s worked at the stable with her family since she was 7, our hour-long trek had us clip-clopping one morning along various tributaries of Little Fountain Creek, past patches of onions and wild raspberries.
Other activities at the ranch include canoeing, or exploring hiking and biking trails.
Your reward for all this activity: the retreat’s bracing, Colorado-inspired cuisine. The fare ranges from scrambled eggs with chorizo to bacon-wrapped cauliflower, cucumber gazpacho, brisket sandwiches, scallops, and roasted Colorado chicken. Cowboy coffee is taken on a lounge chair in front of an outdoor firepit.
In addition to an on-site hot tub, guests at the ranch have access to all the amenities at The Broadmoor, too. Cars can be summoned to drive them down the mountain to enjoy one of the resort’s spa treatments, say, or a round of golf.
Due to heavy winter snow, the Ranch at Emerald Valley is available to guests only from May through October, part of what the Broadmoor is calling its new “Broadmoor Wilderness Experience.” Another piece of the experience, called Cloud Camp, is situated nearby atop Cheyenne Mountain, at 9,200 feet above sea level. That new retreat, which will feature 11 cabins and another 11 rooms inside the 8,000-square-foot “Grand Lodge,” is connected to the ranch by a series of trails. It’s scheduled to open in August or September—a result, like the Ranch at Emerald Valley, of a billionaire’s vision.
A version of this article appears in the March issue of D CEO.