Reaching for the Summit: Historic Broadmoor Gets Brash

The iconic 14,110-foot Pikes Peak and the 90-year-old Pikes Peak International Hill Climb — a car-and-motorcycle race up the famous mountain each July — were the inspirations for The Broadmoor resort’s new Summit restaurant.

So says the restaurant’s renowned designer, Adam Tihany. He likens being in the 98-seat dining room to sitting in a car with everything going by very quickly.

The carpet design simulates the movement of car gears, the ceiling is designed like a racetrack and the glass-enclosed 14-foot wine turret with moving racks suggests the gears of a racecar.

“However, none of these details are evident. They are only suggestions, hints and metaphors,” says Tihany, whose design flair has been a major force in transforming Las Vegas into an international gourmet capital.

A 14-foot wine turret with moving racks is an eye-catcher in the Summit’s bar.

(He was the designer of Aureole, with its wine tower at the Mandalay Bay, Cravings buffet at The Mirage, and Le Cirque and Osteria del Circo at Bellagio).

OK, Mr. Tihany, whatever you say.

The brash, sassy, $5 million Summit, which opened in January, kicks up the dining tempo a notch at the 88-year-old esteemed Italian Renaissance resort hotel. The world-class 3,000-acre, 700-room Colorado Springs landmark is the country’s longest-running consecutive winner of the Mobil Five Star rating and the AAA Five-Diamond award (since their 1958 inception for Mobil and since 1976 for AAA).

“The Summit is a unique dining experience to not only The Broadmoor, but to the hotel industry,” says Stephen Bartolin Jr., the resort’s president and CEO. “It is trend setting for a grand, historic resort to have a restaurant like this.

“We have to be very respectful of the history of The Broadmoor. Putting Summit across the street from the main complex as a free-standing restaurant allowed us to do something different. It is a big wow factor for the guests. They don’t feel like they’re in a hotel restaurant.”

Tihany also is designing a restaurant for Aspen’s historic 117-year-old Hotel Jerome, which Broadmoor owner Oklahoma Publishing Co. purchased last April. The 92-room hotel will close in April 2007 for a $25 million renovation and reopen that November.

Tihany won’t reveal specifics for the restaurant, saying only that he has a challenge because “all of the Aspen customers have seen everything ? and they probably own it.”

The decision to build a Broadmoor restaurant, not a hotel dining room, stems from a survey that showed nearly 65 percent of non-group hotel guests decide what destination to visit based on dining, says C. W. Craig Reed, The Broadmoor’s food and beverage director.

The Broadmoor sprawls over 3,000 acres at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, in Colorado Springs.

“The Summit gives a new flavor to The Broadmoor,” Reed says. And he isn’t worried that it will pull diners away from the resort’s five other major restaurants, although that might happen on occasion. “Guests will feel comfortable going to them all, based on the mood they’re in.”

The Summit’s moderately priced menu is American brasserie with subtle French touches. Appetizers run from $6 to $17 and main courses from $17 to $26. Half the menu stays the same and the other half changes with the seasons. Suggested attire is “smart casual to business.”

Year-round appetizers include six Pacific Oysters On The Half Shell ($9) and six Warm Crispy Oysters with honey, ginger and soy dipping sauce ($9), while seasonal appetizers feature Apple Chestnut Soup with sautéed chestnuts ($6) and Seared Sonoma Foie Gras Tartine with apple butter and country bread ($17).

Entrees for all seasons include Pan Seared Maine Diver Scallops with wild mushroom risotto and parmigiano-reggiano crisp ($24) and Monkfish Osso Bucco ($22). Seasonal main courses feature Sweet Potato Raviolis with chestnuts, cipollinis and sage cream ($17), Black Pepper Crusted Ahi Tuna ($26) and Traditional Cassoulet with duck confit, lamb, sausage, pork and white beans ($21).

A subtle sign with the Summit name and abstract logo — a road winding around a triangular mountain — marks the restaurant’s stone-flanked entrance next to the 60,000-square-foot Broadmoor Hall, which opened in October as part of the expanded Broadmoor Events Center Complex. Down the street are 19 four-story, 4,600-square-foot brownstones The Broadmoor built and sold for an average of $1.4 million each.

“We’re creating our own ‘hood,’” Reed jokes.

The Summit shifted gears after its January 3, 2006 opening when The Broadmoor and much-hyped Summit chef Rollie Wesen parted company. Wesen, son-in-law of celebrated chef Jacques Pepin, had come to the Broadmoor from Rivers restaurant in Portland.

“Heck no, you don’t want that to happen with an opening,” Bartolin says of the flap over Wesen. “But you go forward.”

Chef Bertrand Bouquin oversees both the new Summit restaurant and the Penrose Room.

Stepping in as Summit’s executive chef is French-born Bertrand Bouquin, formerly of downtown Cincinnati’s legendary Mobil Five-Star Maisonette, which closed last year after a 56-year run.

Bouquin was hired in October to oversee redesign of the Penrose Room, The Broadmoor’s most traditional restaurant, atop the 1961-built South Tower. The Penrose Room was gutted in a $30.6 million renovation and reopened in May.

New features include a demonstration kitchen with TV monitors and a private dining room cantilevered out over the Broadmoor’s Cheyenne Lake. Bouquin will serve as executive chef at the Penrose Room, in addition to the Summit.

Also new is an Italian-themed shopping village between the original main building and South Tower, with six specialty boutiques, including women’s fashions from the high-end Balliet’s in Oklahoma City, men’s fashions, a clock shop, cosmetic shop, florist and bookstore.

That’s not all. The Jack Nicklaus–redesigned Mountain Golf Course, made to look like it has been part of the resort since 1918, opened in July.

“This is a race without a finish line,” Bartolin says of the renovations. “We are creating new venues for our guests.”

Meanwhile, the Summit is proving popular with not only hotel guests but Colorado Springs locals. Its featured cocktails ($9.75) are a big hit. They include the Summit Express (Absolut vodka and Starbucks liqueur), Angel’s Temptation (Gran Centenario Plata tequila and fresh-pressed apple juice) and Summit Smokin’ Marg (Gran Centenario Plata tequila, Grand Marnier, fresh lime and a float of Del Maguey Chichicapa Single Village Mezcal).

Perhaps after a couple of these drinks, diners will understand the motion Tihany is trying to convey. The room may indeed move.

If You Go

Summit, at The Broadmoor, 19 Lake Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Reservations requested but not required. Call 719-577-5896 or 800-634-7711. Valet parking available.

Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; closed Monday.

Dining room seats 98. Full menu also available in the Summit lounge and bar, which opens at 4 p.m. and seats 38.

Mim Swartz, has been a travel writer/editor for more than 20 years. She is the former travel editor of the Denver Post.

From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.