Saturday, November 12, 2011

TWO AMERICAN TREASURES

Photography Courtesy of the Greenbrier Resort
Life on the road takes me to many great destinations around the country. In the last couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to stay in what I think may be two of the greatest resort hotels in the world - the Greenbrier in White Sulphur, West Virginia and the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I was the executive chef at the Greenbrier from 1990 to 1994. I held this position right before entering the White House. I haven't been back to visit in several years and was curious to see how the new ownership had changed the resort.

Jim Justice, a native of West Virginia, purchased the resort in 2009, during a time when the U.S. economic crisis was taking its toll; the resort had gone into the red. Mr. Justice bought the resort and guaranteed the 500 million dollar debt the resort was carrying. Under Jim Justice's leadership, the Greenbrier has undergone a series of remarkable change.

Several new restaurant concepts have been adopted at the Greenbrier, all under the watchful eye of Executive Chef Rich Rosendale. Chef Rosendale is a certified master chef and a 3 time gold medalist in the world culinary Olympics. I guess it goes without saying, that everything I tasted in his restaurants was excellent.

Casino fountain photo courtesy Greenbrier Resort
I did however, have concerns about the new casino that had been recently constructed there. I thought that its presence might change the charm and graciousness of the Greenbrier setting. It turned out that these concerns were completely unfounded; the casino was both discreet and unobtrusive. The Greenbrier still maintains its charm and physical grace. It was truly wonderful to see so many old friends and to be "home" at my old Alma mater.

Photograph courtesy of the Broadmoor Resort
My stays at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado have been well chronicled on this blog. I always enjoy my visits there. This time around I took a little detour "outside campus" and headed into the mountains. I went up the Seven Falls Canyon and walked the 224-step stairway that leads to "Midnight Falls." It is a beautiful blend of ridge top snow, spectacular autumn leave, and rock formations. I found this setting to be a good place to hit the reset button. Sometimes the pressure and lonely solitude of the traveling life takes its toll, both mental and physical. I simply sat and contemplated about friends for over an hour.

Photograph courtesy of the Broadmoor Resort
I also hiked into the Garden of the Gods, an incredible group of colorful geologic features of red, blue, purple, and white sandstone. There are numerous trails and even rope climbing routes up the sandstone formations. There are numerous trails and even several rope climbing routes up the sandstone formations. With so many options, it was difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, all of the routes were virtually tourist free and quite peaceful during this time of year.

If you have the time to travel and want to experience two of the greatest American treasures in the country,make your way to the Greenbrier and the Broadmoor resorts.