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Going big — again — at the Broadmoor

When Spencer Penrose opened the Broadmoor Hotel in 1918, he spared no expense. And the same still holds true today


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When Spencer Penrose opened the Broadmoor Hotel in 1918, he spared no expense. The Anschutz Corp. has been busy building on Penrose’s ideas in the new millennium since it bought the resort in 2011.

The latest addition: a 93,000-square-foot exhibit hall, the largest facility of its kind in Colorado Springs.

The impetus was customer demand. “We have several legacy accounts we hold in really high regard,” says Curtis Robison, director of national sales, trade shows and exhibits. “We stood a big chance of losing some of those.”

The annual Space Symposium was at the top of the list. The first event, held at the Broadmoor in 1984, drew about 250 people. In recent years, the four-day confab has attracted more than 10,000 attendees from all over the world.

“The demands from our stakeholders were increasing significantly,” says Tom Zelibor, CEO of the Colorado Springs-based Space Foundation, the organization behind the Space Symposium. “We had a big-time backlog of companies that wanted exhibit space.”

Las Vegas “doesn’t have that very professional, business type of atmosphere,” he adds. “That’s what the Broadmoor brings.” He says the exhibit hall’s open floor plan, high ceilings and 32 breakout rooms for small meetings are a perfect match for the Space Symposium. 

The new exhibit hall offers a convention-friendly space that nearly doubles the Broadmoor’s total event space. The hall was set to open just in time for the 2020 event in late March, however, due to the cancellations brought on by coronavirus, the Space Symposium has been postponed.  

But it’s not your usual exhibit hall, Robison notes. “Everything from the landscaping to the exterior finishes to the finishes inside the building, it’s all being designed to keep consistency,” he says.

Robison is quick to point out that the hall opens up the Broadmoor to a whole new market for larger corporate association groups that the resort had trouble accommodating in the past. Several groups that outgrew the resort are coming back, as new trade groups in the ambulance and fast-food industries have expressed interest.

“This space has been designed to compete in that industry,” Robison says, noting that a 16-by-16 door is a differentiator that allows for super-sized exhibits. “That’s a huge advantage for us. We call it the ‘elephant door.’”

 

Editor's Note: This article was published in the March/June issue of the magazine prior to the closure of large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since its publication, the Space Symposium has been postponed, and the Broadmoor has suspended its operations on March 21, 2020 with plans to reopen for Memorial Day weekend.

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Eric Peterson

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer's Colorado, Frommer's Montana & Wyoming, Frommer's Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver's Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at Eptcb126@msn.com

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