Old World Charm

Back when it opened in Colorado Springs, CO, in 1994, the Spa at the Broadmoor was a trendsetter. As one of the first hotel spas, it trailblazed a path that numerous hotel spas would soon follow. "We're kind of a pioneer," says spa director Ella Stimpson.

Much has changed since the spa broke ground at the Broadmoor Hotel more than a decade ago. The original decor reflected the newness of the spa industry, fully encompassing the New Age concept. The look represented a return to nature but clashed with the hotel's design, which embodied classic, ornate European style. In 2004, a redesign of the spa brought it in sync with the hotel, adding beautifully textured curtains, rich carpeting, and impressive chandeliers. This elegance sets it apart from the sparse, organic environment of the original spa and now offers an atmosphere of opulence and indulgence.

The couples' treatment room echoes the spa's elegant decor with a Venetian chandelier and inviting fireside sitting area.
The couples' treatment room echoes the spa's elegant decor with a Venetian chandelier and inviting fireside sitting area.

A sense of relaxation permeates the 43,000-square-foot spa. The sweet scent of lavender greets guests at the door of the third floor treatment area, and curved walls, dark blue hues, and a fireplace in the waiting area combine to create a comforting, laid-back atmosphere. "You've begun your journey to quietness at that point," says Stimpson. The jaw-dropping view of the golf course with the Rocky Mountains in the background enhances the feel of a luxurious escape.

The golf course tends to draw a mainly professional crowd, and 70 percent of the spa's guests are corporate clients. Though these guests come mostly for company meetings and events, they like to be entertained as well, and the spa is growing into a larger part of that experience. Stimpson hopes that eventually the spa becomes as important for networking as golf is considered now. As she points out, a round of golf can take four or five hours, and corporate guests don't always have time for that, whereas a spa treatment can satisfy guests in less time.

The spa's spacious reception area offers guests the chance to sit or shop before and after treatments.
The spa's spacious reception area offers guests the chance to sit or shop before and after treatments.

The other 30 percent of the spa's business comes from high-end visitors on vacation. "A lot of people come here to get married, then return for anniversaries," says Stimpson. "It becomes a place people grow up with and come back to time and time again."

What brings the guests back are the elaborate and well-thought-out treatments available. Since the beginning, the spa has been based on the European concept of spa, which revolves around hydrotherapy. With 12 treatment tubs and four hydrotherapy showers, the spa is committed to following the European experience of "returning to water," and each treatment begins with a shower or soak in a hydrotherapy tub.

Wrought iron gates welcome visitors to the spa.
Wrought iron gates welcome visitors to the spa.

But while that principle has remained the same, the rest of the menu has evolved over time. Twelve years ago, the idea of spas was so new that to many, just getting a massage was original. Now Stimpson has noticed that guests have become savvier and are looking for something they can't get at their local day spa. "We want you to walk out of the treatment and go 'Wow, I've never felt like that before, I've got to come back,'" she says. "That's expecting a lot, but we're all about that 'wow' factor."

The staff fluctuates between 60 in the off-season to 100 in season and can accommodate 450 appointments a day. Of the 100 treatments the spa offers, one of the most popular is the Journey to Nirvana ($165, 80 minutes). The new Ayurvedic body treatment features a natural herbal-based wrap followed by a massage. Another popular treatment is the Harmonic Hot Stone Massage ($175, 80 minutes). During this traditional hot stone treatment, three crystal singing bowls of varying sizes are sounded to appeal to the different chakras, adding an element of sound therapy. "It's an emotional treatment," says Stimpson. "That's our biggest 'wow' when it comes to massage. People who love music really love this treatment."

Clockwise from Top: The spa's quiet room provides guests with comfortable surroundings and a view of the lush golf course; the golf clubhouse; men's and women's lounges offer a cozy place to relax.
Clockwise from Top: The spa's quiet room provides guests with comfortable surroundings and a view of the lush golf course; the golf clubhouse; men's and women's lounges offer a cozy place to relax.

The spa also boasts three retail areas. The one on the body treatment floor sells spa lines; the one in the salon carries haircare products, makeup, and nailcare; and fitness center guests can choose from a line of workout clothing, yoga mats, and more. "We're trying to extend the feeling of spa to home," says Stimpson. "We want guests to take that 'wow' home, and every time they use that product, they will think about the Broadmoor."

The treatments and retail offerings imprint memories from the Broadmoor into the minds of its guests–an important function because Stimpson finds promoting the spa to be her biggest challenge. "They go to the spa because they're already at the hotel, but I'd like to change that," she says. Because it is a luxury hotel, the spa must compete with a variety of other available activities, from white water rafting to hot air balloon rides. As a result, Stimpson must do more than simply put brochures in the rooms.

To tackle the problem, the spa has started an employee service program. When available, the spa will offer treatments for hotel employees at cost. The idea is that if the employees can speak from experience and genuinely rave about the treatments they've had, the effect will be much greater than any brochure could offer. The program has been in place for about six months, and while business hasn't changed overnight, there is evidence that it's working.

Stimpson hopes to bring the spa from its humble beginnings to even greater prominence in the future. "Five years down the road, I would like this to be a place where you don't come to the hotel, you come to the spa and stay at the hotel," she says. "That's a lot of work, but I think we can do it."

Suggested Articles

Luong Dieu Huong is a spa manager at two spas in Lang Co, Thailand.

In Cabo, local spas are integrating a range of powerful native ingredients into their treatment menus in enticing ways.

Created by Julie Pankey, founder of Spa Hive, in memory of Danielle Knerr, the award honors leaders who exemplify four critical traits.