Run-Down to Restored
The Pikes Peak region attracts visitors from around the world, so it’s not surprising then that the region has a rich selection of historic hotels. Some are in their original buildings, some in repurposed historic buildings, and others have endured fire, demolition, and rebirth.
Conceived by Cripple Creek mining magnate Spencer Penrose as a hotel that would outstrip every other hotel in the world, the Broadmoor will celebrate its 100th anniversary on June 1, 2018. Now owned by multi-billionaire entrepreneur Phil Anschutz, the Broadmoor hasn’t just aged well—it has been reborn. When Anschutz bought it several years ago, he immediately launched a program of renovations and new construction. He transformed the dreary 1970s Broadmoor West building into a showplace and upgraded dining and off-site recreational options. Thanks to Anschutz, the Broadmoor has regained its place as one of the finest resort hotels in the world.
THE MINING EXCHANGE HOTEL
Local attorney/entrepreneur Perry Sanders acquired the dilapidated five-story 1902 Mining Exchange Building in 2010 and spent more than 30 million to recreate it as a luxury boutique hotel. Originally built by Cripple Creek millionaire and civic benefactor Winfield Scott Stratton to house the Colorado Springs Mining Stock Exchange, the grand Italian Renaissance structure emphasized the solidity and permanence of its tenants. But the gold rush ended, the tenants went broke, and the city moved on. By the end of the 20th century, the building was just a shabby survivor of the city’s greatest era. Sanders restored the building to its original grandeur. It includes a luxury spa, a performance space, meeting rooms, a New Orleans themed restaurant, and a comfortable lobby bar. The hotel retains much of its historic character, including the 19th-century safes that once held the cash, gold, and stock certificates of its original tenants. Sanders also acquired two adjacent historic buildings that are part of the hotel complex, which now offers 119 well-appointed rooms.
THE CLIFF HOUSE
The Cliff House began as a rough and tumble 20-room boarding house at the foot of Ute Pass. It was a stagecoach for travelers and adventurers heading west from the plains to the central Rockies. In 1886, the present building was erected, designed to appeal to health-seekers who were attracted by Manitou’s mineral springs and climate. President Theodore Roosevelt stayed there, as did many notables of the era. But as Manitou’s popularity as a resort destination waned, the hotel essentially ceased operations, becoming a military barracks and eventually a rundown apartment complex. In 1982, a catastrophic fire gutted the building, which remained boarded up until 1997 when owner Jim Morley embarked on a two year 10.5 million dollar restoration. It reopened in 1999, and has since won recognition as one of the nation’s most romantic historic hotels. Tucked on Canon Avenue, just a block from Manitou’s bustling main drag, the Cliff House features themed rooms.
Cripple Creek and Victor
THE VICTOR HOTEL
Built in 1899 to replace a wooden structure that had burned to the ground, the four-story brick and stone building has more than stood the test of time. The recently renovated hotel at 4th Street and Victor Avenue features 20 modern rooms with private baths and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel also has its original birdcage elevator that, like the hotel itself, is said to be haunted.
CARR MANOR AND THE HOTEL ST. NICHOLAS
These two small hotels, located a couple of blocks apart just steps from the Bennett Avenue casino district, are located in historic Cripple Creek buildings. The St. Nicholas, an 1898 hospital was renovated in 1996 into a 15-room hotel that incorporates 19th-century details in a comfortably modern hotel. There’s a rooftop Jacuzzi, outdoor decks, and the boiler room tavern, named for the massive cast iron front plate from the building’s original coal-fired furnace that now serves as the tavern’s back bar. Perched on a hill overlooking downtown, the St. Nicholas offers expansive views and quiet, private rooms. Carr Manor, the former Cripple Creek High School building, is now an elegant 14-room boutique hotel. The hotel is open seven days a week from May 15 to October 15, and on weekends for the other seven months of the year. The rooms are large and fairly luxurious, and the hotel is oriented to adult visitors.
MT. PRINCETON HOT SPRINGS
This comfortable little resort next to Chalk Creek stream that flows into the Arkansas at Nathrop, a few miles south of Buena Vista on Highway 24. The resort’s hot springs are entirely natural, maintaining a constant temperature of 120 degrees. Several natural pools at creekside are available when the creek’s flow is low enough, but there are also six outdoor hot pools. There’s been a hotel on the site since the late 19th century, but today’s buildings are modern and comfortable. Guests can stay in private luxury cabins, in the main lodge, or in two detached multi-room buildings. From about 1915 until the mid-1920s, Mt. Princeton was one of America’s premier hot springs resorts. The four-floor hotel included towers that reached more than 100 feet into the sky. Guests arrived on railroad spur that brought them directly to the hotel, where dining tables were set with heavy silver and fine china in the hotel’s exclusive pattern. But all good things must come to an end. The railroad discontinued service in 1926, the Great Depression shuttered the hotel, and in 1950, the hotel was disassembled and the lumber was used to build a Texas subdivision.
Today’s Mt. Princeton is once again thriving thanks to its inexhaustible hot springs. If you’re thinking of bagging one or two of the Sawatch Range 14ers, make the healing waters of Mt. Princeton your base camp.
The 1909 Palace Hotel is in the heart of Salida’s magnificently preserved and restored downtown and in easy walking distance of great bars, restaurants, and shops. Fifteen spacious suites, all named and uniquely decorated, await the weary traveler. And, unless you reserve a first-floor suite, you’ll access your room just as did guests in 1909, via a wide staircase to the second and third floors. Rooms are spacious, light-filled, and comfortable as well as eminently affordable. We recommend the second-floor DR&GW Suite, which memorializes the historic railroad that long served Salida and the Arkansas Valley.
THE ROBISON MANSION
A fully restored three-story brick and stone 1884 mansion in Cañon City is a spectacular events center that also offers overnight accommodations for parties of up to ten people. It’s not a hotel in the ordinary sense of the word, but nothing about the Robison Mansion is ordinary. From the Austrian-made original mahogany spiral staircase to the amazing 19th-century interior detailing, it’s available for a price. You can rent the entire 6,500 square foot mansion, which can house up to ten guests in baronial style for $1,500 a night. For a couple, that’s a lot more than the Broadmoor, but you won’t have to share the experience with hundreds of other visitors. If you’re planning a company event, a wedding or a family reunion, the mansion is a perfect fit and you can likely arrange for an overnight stay as well.