Those in the know in the hospitality industry agree that the driving force behind the success and acclaim of the historic Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs is its Chairman and CEO, Stephen Bartolin, Jr.
The Broadmoor, which first opened in 1918 by founders Julie & Spencer Penrose, has welcomed many of the world’s most famous names. Their dream was to create a grand resort where European elegance could meet western hospitality in Colorado Springs.
Highly-regarded, and a seasoned hospitality professional, Steve Bartolin, became the President of the Broadmoor in 1991 - and by 2002 was elevated to the status of Chairman and CEO. Known as a “strategic visionary” the ever-enthusiastic Bartolin reads dozens of guest comment cards personally each day to get direct feedback from his customers. It’s extremely important for Mr. Bartolin to know his guests are satisfied; and he has earned his reputation as one of the top hotel executives in the business with his down-to-earth management style and a “guests come first” attitude.
Steve Bartolin’s employees affectionately call him Mr. “B” and say that working for someone as easy-going - and respectful of his employees as Mr. “B” has spoiled them. But, as the Broadmoor employees would also agree, when it comes to providing “service excellence” - Bartolin is in a never-ending, relentless pursuit of that - and he expects his employees to adopt the same philosophy.
Steve Bartolin is keenly intelligent, outgoing, and loves working at the Broadmoor. He’s as “good as it gets” in his field. You get the impression from Mr. Bartolin that as long as “it’s still fun,” he plans on exceeding his own expectations for years to come.
Tell us about the commitment the BROADMOOR has made to supporting charitable organizations and the community? The BROADMOOR supports hundreds of non-profit charitable organizations annually. Our contribution value totals $400,000 to $500,000 each year. If anything, sometimes I think we spread ourselves a little thin trying to support so many worthwhile organizations, and we have discussed if we should concentrate our efforts to make more of an impact on just a few. It is just so hard to say no. Our most significant financial effort has been to our local school district when we formed our “Partnership in Education.” This funds programs, materials and equipment that otherwise would not make the school budget and supports the ambitious teachers. Over the years, we have raised nearly $1.5 million toward this effort with an annual auction.
What are some of the biggest non-profit events that are consistently held at the BROADMOOR? American Cancer Society, Heart Ball, Medal of Valor Luncheon, Partners in Philanthropy, New Born Hope, Colorado Festival of World Theater, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corporation, Boy Scouts, to name a few.
How did 9-11 affect the operation and business of the BROADMOOR? The BROADMOOR, like every lodging establishment in America, was hurt by 9-11. We have had world events and economic factors that have affected business before, but nothing so immediate and so dramatic. It put a sudden halt to travel and took four years to fully recover. This was typical for the lodging industry, not just the BROADMOOR.
What do you personally value most in your life? My family.
How do you plan on consistently exceeding the expectations of your guests? We deal in a world every day where the best is just good enough. Also, the bar raises every year creating sort of a “race without a finish line.” Once you understand this, we keep refining our standards, facilities and amenities to this ever rising bar.
What has been your greatest accomplishment since coming to the BROADMOOR? Rather than identify any one thing, I felt when I took the job in 1991 the greatest accomplishment I could achieve would be to take a property that was so steeped in history in the lodging industry and in Colorado and make certain that when my time was done here, it would be handed down to the next generation of employees and guests in exceptional condition, both fiscally and physically. I feel good that we are heading in that direction.
Other than the BROADMOOR, what is your favorite Resort? I started my career at the Greenbrier Resort and will always have a soft spot in my heart for that property. My time there helped me prepare for my responsibilities today at the BROADMOOR.
Any more plans for remodeling, revamping or adding on to the BROADMOOR? Always. We are constantly reinventing ourselves, watching what our competition does, looking at what our guests’ demand and desire, and reacting accordingly. Even though we continue to rework our physical plant, we do so with a careful eye on the past, always respecting the architectural character and continuity of the property.
In your opinion, what makes a hotel resort most memorable for guests? Easy answer – it is the staff. There are so many beautiful places to visit but it is always the staff that leaves the lasting impression. I personally read and respond to every guest comment letter. It reminds me every day what is most important to our guests. Guests can feel when a staff is genuinely caring and concerned. They can feel when they are sincere and engaged.
What do you think about being a good golfer: luck or skill? Without a doubt skill.
What does true friendship mean to you? It means a lot. What is most meaningful are my dearest friendships today date back to when I was just kid or perhaps early in my career or even my college baseball buddies, and that we all stay in close touch. That is a meaningful thing in my life.
What can all of us do as citizens to push the world in a better direction? It is all about the people you touch along the way, never thinking you are better than someone else because of position, title or income. That, multiplied over time, is more meaningful in respect to accomplishing any single great thing.
Do you see retirement in your future at any point? Ultimately, sure, but I don’t think I will be a very good retiree. Unless I am taking a trip or vacationing, I have a hard time taking a day off. At the same time, I always said I wanted to go out when I still had my “fast ball.”
What would you like to do when you retire? No idea. I know I need to be able to accomplish something meaningful however.
What do you read or watch on a regular basis to stay informed? All the news channels. Other than that, I watch very little television. I always have one or two books going and try to keep those topical to keep me informed of what is happening in the world.
What would you still like to learn how to do? As I get older I am taking more of an interest in cooking, although my skills are rudimentary compared to the great chefs I have worked with over the years.
Do you have a favorite motto or saying? "There but for the grace of God go I."
What can we do to make sure young people become involved in charitable giving and volunteering – or just being kind to others? I think it is important for every business to have a charitable giving program, along with a volunteer effort, as part of their business agenda. It comes pretty naturally in the hotel business because hotels tend to be so engaged in every aspect of the community.
How do you like living in Colorado Springs; do you plan on living somewhere else some day? I love Colorado and Colorado Springs. I always plan to have a home here, and we bought a home in Wickenburg, Arizona. Best of both worlds.
What’s something that’s going on behind the scenes at the BROADMOOR day-to-day that guests may not know about? Our commitment to training, education and employee development. We have a seven person training staff with five full-time trainers and four dedicated training rooms in a newly built facility. We offer a course curriculum of nearly 100 classes for our staff, supervisors and managers so that they can continually grow, develop and become better.
In your position, you sometimes need to have the wisdom of a King Solomon; what is one of the most difficult decisions you have had to make when it comes to dealing with your staff? You have to make decisions in business and sometimes tough ones. The key is to be fair and consistent and never be callous. Many times the decisions you make affect people’s lives and their families.
You have probably met so many famous celebrities and high profile dignitaries, who is the most interesting person you have ever met? Just because of the business I am in I have had an opportunity to meet many political figures, business leaders, athletes and celebrities. One of the more interesting and contradictory for me was Margaret Thatcher. I met her at the Greenbrier and knew of her reputation as “The Iron Maiden.” I found her to be so gracious, warm, welcoming and engaging and she was particularly lovely with my twelve year old daughter Annie. She really took time to sit down and speak with her and ask her about her life and her ambitions. When I think of the world stage she was on, that meant a lot to me.
Also, Sam Snead would be in that category. I believe Sam was the greatest golfer that ever lived. He was a country guy but nobody’s fool. He was one of the smartest, funniest, and most competitive individuals I have ever known.
Lastly, George Bush, Sr. When he visited The BROADMOOR on the campaign trail he, like Margaret Thatcher, took time to visit with my father who was here at the time. He delayed his speech and sat down and talked with my dad for five minutes. My dad was not formerly educated, was a blue collar guy and a life-long democrat. He remained that until he died, but no one had better ever say anything negative to him about George Herbert Walker Bush.
How do you think Colorado Springs will change over the next decade? Surely Colorado Springs will grow and hopefully in a positive way, always balancing growth with a positive way of life. I sure hope we don’t ever get to become a no-growth type of community. It is important we remain vibrant and ever-changing and developing, just like a business needs to be.
Tell us something no one might know about you? I own three Harley Davidson’s.
What future goals do you have for the BROADMOOR? I want us to get better and better every year. I want people to think of us as the greatest hotel in America.
What’s in the future for Steve Bartolin? Continue my duties at The BROADMOOR until it is time for me to retire.
How do you want to be remembered? The BROADMOOR is so much bigger than any single person that has had the privilege to manage it over some span of time. I certainly hope that I am remembered as somebody that was very good to The BROADMOOR during my time here. I also hope that I am remembered as somebody that really cared for our employees. I am not ashamed to say that I love The BROADMOOR, but I especially love the people I get to work with on a daily basis. They are just the best.
Some of Mr. Bartolin’s Professional, Community, & Awards History: Former Resident Manager of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee; Former General Manager at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; Now serves as President & CEO of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway Company, the Broadmoor Development Company & the Broadmoor Golf Club. He also serves on the board of the Broadmoor’s parent company: The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Mr. Bartolin was named “1997 Resort Executive of the Year,” & was recognized as the “2005 Colorado Hotelier of the Year.”