The Broadmoor Hotel Resort

The Broadmoor Hotel Resort is a five-star, five-diamond resort that encompasses 3,000 acres, much of which is native underdeveloped land. Maintaining a resort of this caliber requires each member of the staff to perform their tasks with meticulous care as well as consideration for the guests.

Scheduling around-the-clock Scheduling assigned maintenance projects at the Broadmoor Hotel Resort is not an easy task for Judy Alcorta, grounds supervisor, and Curtis Wreath, assistant supervisor. On any given summer day, they have to schedule around or for weddings, obstacle courses, Western cookouts, benefit races (foot and boats), fishing lessons, fireworks and balloon rides, as well as afternoon teas, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties and meeting breaks. Good communication, a lot of phone calls and daily-event sheets enable all departments at the Broadmoor to work together to make every event the most enjoyable for the guests.

Along with making each event enjoyable, part of our maintenance routine is to remember that our guests are vacationing and, on some occasions, may like to sleep in. Therefore, we schedule most of the noise-producing activities--mowing, tilling, hedge trimming and edging--after 9 a.m. Because the grounds crew begins their day at 6 a.m., they maintain the areas away from the guest rooms during the early part of the day and patrol for litter. This keeps the staff labor-efficient.

Controlling uninvited guests Wildlife control is another aspect of the scheduling headache. Our biggest pests are Canadian geese, which use the Broadmoor's lake as their home. They affect not only the dynamics of the aquatic life in the lake but those of us outside the lake as well. We often have to overseed the bluegrass turf that surrounds the banks of the lake several times a year to combat the geese picking at it. If the geese simply removed blades of grass, it might have a chance to regenerate. But they insist on pulling the turf up, roots and all, making replacement the only answer. Of course, after the geese eat their fill of grass, they leave droppings all over the sidewalks. Frequently, we see local early morning joggers and walkers, as well as guests in expensive shoes, side-stepping along the lake sidewalk. During the summer molting season, it is not uncommon for our electric sidewalk sweeper to make a clean path on the sidewalk up to five times a day.

The challenge of the geese makes the other wildlife control seem but a small task. We find live trapping and relocating the raccoons who enjoy outdoor lunches on the terraces a bit inconvenient, just as it is a hassle to put holiday lights around a tree where the squirrels do not want them. And it sometimes seems a little ridiculous to put bars of soap in the beds to prevent the deer from eating the flowers. However, we believe all of these animal-control problems are a small price to pay for the opportunity to work in the mountains of Colorado Springs.

Plantings for all seasons The floral-landscape crew is responsible for planting and maintaining the 91 flower beds totaling 32,000 square feet, as well as the 232 pots and planters, and the 145 hanging French gardens. We try to scatter these colorful attractions all over the hotel grounds, three golf courses and other outlying areas. This extensive amount of foliage requires two full-time staff members and four to six seasonal (mid-May to mid-August) staff members all under the direction of Karen Anderson, floral/landscape design supervisor.

The scenery dictates the vast mixture of bulbs, perennials, annuals, flowering shrubs and trees, and water plants we select. To provide an appealing view to our guests at any time of the year, we install three different floral plantings. Beginning in late March, we plant pansies and ornamental kale in the most highly visible areas and put out 140 spring baskets and pots. These plants are frost-tolerant but heat-intolerant, and thrive in the cooler spring weather of Colorado.

The second planting comes in mid- to late May. We remove the spring pots and baskets and put the 321 summer containers out. Along with these pots and baskets, we plant summer annuals in the flower beds after removing the spring tulips, pansies and ornamental kale. In contrast to the spring plantings, the summer plantings are heat-tolerant and frost-intolerant.

The third planting comes in mid-October or after the summer annuals freeze. We replant beds with fall pansies, ornamental kale and spring tulips. We treat more than 12,000 tulips as annuals and plant them each fall to provide spring color around the hotel properties. However, this fall planting does not last all year. In late December or early January, we remove the fall annuals and begin to plant the spring baskets in our own company greenhouses.

Working in a winter wonderland Although the winter months do not have the heavy daily activities of the summer months, the holidays provide enough events to keep the smaller staff busy. "Colorado Christmas" is a dinner theater show that runs from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve with nightly performances. With an altitude of more than 6,000 feet, the weather creates major obstacles for the Broadmoor in ensuring visitors won't encounter lots of wintry hazards. Although the "late-shift" grounds staff is usually able to handle maintenance in preparation for each nightly event, snow and freezing temperatures may require us to schedule additional staff members. This is a daily and sometimes even a spur-of-the-moment decision that relies on a dedicated, full-time staff that can handle all the last-minute work assignments arranged by Mother Nature.

Special attention to details Along with our maintenance of the property and other requested areas, we also have an 11-acre lake centrally located between the four guest structures: Main, West, South and West Tower. This body of water is a focal point of guests and joggers and includes a 0.75-mile walkway around the lake. The scenic walkway passes through all three terraces where one might sit and relax, or where various daily functions occur. Detail is of utmost importance here, as well as all areas associated with guest functions. I feel the two most important aspects of taking a property from "good" to "great" is detail, detail, detail, and continual follow-up on staff members to ensure everyone meets the Broadmoor's high-quality standards. Our responsibilities include cleaning and edging walkways, mowing the turf twice a week, maintaining more than 145 16-inch hanging baskets (each strategically designed for the growing condition where we place them) and maintaining 232 planters and pots, which range from 21 to 32 inches in diameter. We continually monitor hundreds of trees--both old and new--as well as more than 2 acres of woody ornamentals and all outdoor hardscape maintenance.

High-tech irrigation We have a totally computerized irrigation system on the grounds, which allows for off-site operation via a modem. The central control is an Osmac wireless system, allowing radio control of the irrigation stations. We selected this system because of the extensive spacing of the property, which makes it impractical to use a wire system. The irrigation system includes about 500 valves and more than 5,000 sprinkling devices that do everything from mist to drip to overhead watering. Irrigation in the field is a variable mix, in that we deal with copper, PVC and polyethylene piping, along with the variety of manufacturer's values and heads. We currently are converting the system to Toro and Rainbird.

Five-star updating In the last couple of years, the property has undergone several special projects, ranging from major subcontracted work to in-house landscaping and installation. Many times it can become difficult to maintain existing structures and to construct at the same time. Most of our recent projects include major facility upgrades. For added convenience and to meet the needs of our guests, we constructed a new club house/spa, tennis courts, the West Tower wing and a land bridge. We subcontracted many of these jobs, which required months of dedicated work to complete. We incorporated all new plant and building materials into the existing surroundings whenever possible. Our staff monitored all the aforementioned projects until completion, in addition to their regular required maintenance practices.

Upgrading of the landscaping on the property has been going on for the past 5 years but is not noticeable because we've retained so much existing original vegetation and trees. I feel that when we complete the next 100 projects, we will just start over. In other words, our work is never done. Renovation is an ongoing event with a property such as this.

Planning and executing the landscape and floral landscape for the 1995 U.S. Women's Open was a major project. Although we were all involved in the installation, Karen Anderson and her floral-landscape staff maintained the colorful pots, baskets and planters, while the grounds staff repaired daily divots. Much of the work on the golf course was done before and after play, leaving the grounds staff available for their normal-maintenance duties. Many of our grounds staff put in 90 to 100 hours per week. As superintendent of golf and grounds at that time, I directed all staffs and scheduled daily activities of the east-course staff for several months before and during the championship to ensure that it met the USGA standards. Again, detail and follow-up were important, and upon completion of the championship, I directed my energies back to the hotel grounds. Now as director of grounds, I find that being a perfectionist is a real asset in this industry. However, the frustrations of all our uncontrollable conditions can be exhausting.

Tommy D. Anderson is the director of grounds at The Broadmoor Hotel Resort (Colorado Springs, Colo.).

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