How does hotel maintain a five-diamond rating for 50 years running? It takes a village, according to those on the front line.
Jamie Stringfellow sits down with Shauna Sartori, who became The Broadmoor hotel’s chief concierge at just 25, to learn what makes the hotel operate smoothly and what she loves about Colorado Springs.
What’s the one sight or experience a guest should see or have while in the Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak area? Is there one thing you think best captures the sense of place?
Most people would think to visit Pikes Peak mountain, but that’s a lot of time. I’d suggest going to Garden of the Gods; it’s less than a 15-minute drive from the Broadmoor. The all-natural red rock park looks like Sedona. And you get a great view of Pikes Peak from Garden of the Gods.
On the way there, you can pass through Old Colorado City, which was going to be the capital of Colorado until Denver stole our thunder. It’s full of independent boutiques. On the way back, check out the Cliff House, a restored Victorian Hotel in Manitou Springs, at the base of Pikes Peak. A local Manitou favorite is Adam’s Mountain Café.
What’s the most unusual request you’ve had to fulfill for a guest? Or couldn’t fulfill?
I don’t know about unusual, but I love the marriage proposals! We’ve all gotten good at it. It’s fun for us when guys ask for our help. We all work together—the other staff, the guest and the concierges––and it blossoms. You have to get the feel of the guy and the girl—how would she react? Then we can tailor our plan. In the West Tower lobby, there’s a fountain. In that fountain we will often write “Will You Marry me (girl’s name)” in pennies. Then we sit and watch. If she’s private, we suggest something more like hot air ballooning.
We get a lot of celebrities, Olympians and politicians too since we have such a high level of security available. President Bush and the Obamas have come. We hosted the NATO conference. I was working the desk then and this gentleman walked by, who was very short. There was much buzz around him, and they pulled him right into the bar. I wasn’t star struck, but there was Donald Rumseld.
What’s your favorite room in the hotel, or favorite view?
My favorite room is 508. People think I’m crazy since it’s not a suite. It’s in the main building and faces the mountains and lake, and has a big balcony. I do also like the Gaylord Suite, a two bedroom suite overlooking the golf course and mountains.
What little piece of trivia or history do you like to tell guests when they ask about the property?
People want to know why we raise the letter A in Broadmoor. There’s two stories: the factual story and the fun story. The fun story is that Mr. Spencer Penrose rode his horse into the lobby of the Antlers hotel downtown and demanded that General Palmer sell the hotel to him. Palmer declined. Penrose said he’d would make Palmer’s hotel insignificant next to the one Penrose would build. So he raised the “A” in Broadmoor [BroAdmoor] to signify his hotel would be above Palmer’s. The truth is that the area of the hotel was already named Broadmoor, so for copyright reasons, Penrose raised the A.
And, yes we do have underground tunnels here. We still use one in the main building near the laundry.
What inborn talent or cultivated skill makes you exceptional at your job?
I have the heart and desire. Nothing makes me happier than to see guests enjoy the facility and Colorado Springs. We never know what a guest will ask. Questions go from where should I eat to where’s the closest alligator farm? It’s the unknown—but who doesn’t like to be challenged?
How did you get to the Broadmoor?
My parents worked in the food and beverage industry. We vacationed here at the Broadmoor, and from then on I always wanted to work here. I did my internship from New Mexico State here, then applied everywhere but nothing felt right. The only position here was as concierge intern. The next year, I was asked to be the Children’s Program Manager in the concierge department.
It takes a village! Many times we all pitch in to help housekeepers. Guests never know that the head concierge or the manager was making their beds! We also bus tables, help at the bar, set up conference rooms.
What’s your favorite thing to do here on your day off?
I take Jack, my 3-year-old, to the Cheyene Mountain Zoo. It’s is the only zoo located on the side of a mountain in all of North America. You get great views of the city and mountains. And, it’s got the largest giraffe exhibit in the U.S.
My husband Michael is the Broadmoor’s East Golf Course superintendent which is near the zoo. He occasionally gets calls from the zoo asking, “Have you seen my cockatoo?!” Three of the zoo otters went missing one day, and made their way to the golf course (there’s lots of water!). Two of them were caught there; the third was seen all over the city and ended up in the local news.
By Jamie Stringfellow for PeterGreenberg.com. Jamie Stringfellow writes from Hermosa Beach, California, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. She is the co-founder and editor of WeekendWalk.com.
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