Steamboat: Moving Full Steam Ahead with Resort Transformation

Submitted by Tim Sullivan on Thu, 10/21/2021 - 10:40
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Photo Credit: Larry Pierce, Steamboat

Multi-year, multi-million dollar projects top Steamboat Ski Resorts new offerings for Winter 21/22

Steamboat Ski Resort is in the midst of the largest redevelopment of the resort in history, breaking ground on a new base area and setting the stage for upcoming on-mountain and base area improvements. 

In February 2021, Steamboat announced plans to embark on significant improvements to create a world-class guest and staff experience that matches the resort’s long recognized industry excellence. In April 2021 construction crews began working to deconstruct and relocate the lower gondola terminal about 300 feet to a new on-slope location and to remove the former Gondola Building and work on the foundation of the new base area. These are the first steps in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar redevelopment that will result in a second Gondola, a world-class SnowSports learning facility, more advanced terrain, expanded snowmaking, a new resort entrance and a reimagined base area including new shops, restaurants, guest spaces and better navigation.

“Watching the future of Steamboat come to life as this project progresses is incredibly exciting,” said Rob Perlman, president and COO of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. “For Alterra Mountain Company to support (and ultimately invest) in our long-term vision shows the strength of Steamboat as a vacation destination and a community. Each year, guests will experience a new component of our transformation culminating in a whole new way to visit Ski Town, U.S.A.®.”

Highlights of the redevelopment for This Winter:

New Lower Gondola Terminal- Opening Winter 2021/22

The previous Gondola Building, which housed the lower Gondola terminal and resort administrative and operation offices, was demolished in spring 2021. Now guests will load the Steamboat Gondola from a new on-slope terminal location just off the promenade. Moving the entrance and queuing for the gondola will provide much needed space in the base area for guests to navigate and enjoy a reimagined Steamboat Square. The new Steamboat Gondola was installed ahead of the 2019/20 winter season replacing a previous gondola that lifted skiers and riders up the mountain for more than 30 years.

New Steamboat Square

For the 2021/22 winter, the area surrounding where the Gondola Building previously was, will be paved and provide an open space for guests accessing the snow (some of this area will remain closed until the project is completed). During the winter season, work will continue underneath the base area to build resort operations facilities, including locker rooms, Ski Patrol, UCHealth Clinic, etc. In summer 2022 work will resume on Steamboat Square with the addition of new shops, restaurants, gathering spaces and a stage. The final Steamboat Square project will include the addition of an ice arena opening winter 22/23, which will transition to a lawn during the summer season for events and activities.

New Resort Entrance- Opening Winter 2021/22
Main Entrance:
Guests will be welcomed to the resort through a clear main entrance directing them through the fastest route to shops, restaurants, the gondola and the snow. The route will feature a custom art wall constructed of perforated corten steel sharing the unique components that make Steamboat special such as the More Barn, Billy Kidd, horses, etc. 

Escalator: The new main entrance will feed visitors to an escalator, eliminating the maze of stairs that guests previously had to navigate to get to the snow.

Project Sustainability

When the base area demolition occurred in spring of 2021, resort crews worked to divert as much waste as possible. Office and guest furniture, lockers, equipment and even lightbulbs were removed for reuse and/or donated for employee or community use. Items that could not be repurposed were recycled appropriately. Between moving out of the building and demolition, SSRC and its contractors were able to achieve a 70% diversion rate.
All new buildings in Steamboat Square will be LEED certified and SSRC staff are working closely with East West Partners and the redevelopment team to identify additional opportunities to meet SSRC and Alterra’s sustainability goals.

Project Future Timeline

2022 Summer:

  • Wild Blue Gondola lower leg Construction
  • New Steamboat Square shops and restaurants take shape
  • Greenhorn Ranch magic carpets, chairlift, lunch center and snowmaking installation
  • Relocation of Christie Peak Express chairlift base terminal

2022/23 Winter:

  • Ice Rink opens
  • Greenhorn Ranch Learning Center opens
  • Wild Blue Gondola lower leg opens

2023 Summer:

  • Wild Blue Gondola upper leg Construction
  • Pioneer Ridge & Fish Creek Canyon terrain work
  • Snowmaking expansion- Sundown and Sunshine areas

2023/24 Winter

  • Wild Blue Gondola upper leg opens
  • Pioneer Ridge & Fish Creek terrain expansion opens

 

Other exciting news for 2021/22 Winter

New Children’s Programming The Steamboat SnowSports School is evolving the resort’s children’s programming to better align with the resort’s purpose to have fun, create lifelong memories, introduce friends, make children laugh and smile. Beginning winter 21/22 Kids Vacation Center will officially transform into Happy Camp. Serving children ages 4 and under, Happy Camp will offer indoor childcare and on-hill learning while instilling a lifetime passion for the outdoors.

“We’re in the business of creating memories for skiers and riders of all ages, and our camp includes the entire mountain,” said Nelson Wingard, director of Steamboat’s SnowSports School. “Our goal and purpose is to make kids happy campers whether they’re learning to ski and snowboard, playing inside, meeting new friends or exploring our outdoor playground. We’ll still be known for our outstanding service, our incredible instructors and our unmatched family experiences; and now we’ll be accomplishing all that under a name that aligns perfectly with what Steamboat Ski Resort is all about.”

Putting our People First

Steamboat recognizes that our staff is what makes our resort unique and has earned us the notoriety of being the most welcoming and friendly resort and community. Investing in our staff and creating opportunities for them to grow and thrive at the resort and in our community is a top priority and is highlighted through resort strategies including:

Largest base wage increase in resort history: in July 2021, the resort announced a new starting hourly base wage of $15, a nearly 20 percent increase. In addition to raising starting base wages, the resort re-evaluated eligible team members payrates and adjusted accordingly to reduce compression. Offering a competitive wage is a crucial component to recruiting and retaining the best employees in the business.

Commitment to Housing: Similar to every other mountain community, Steamboat is facing a housing crisis. SSRC is committed to working with local entities and partners to create long term solutions. Additionally, SSRC will pursue short term solutions every season to provide opportunities where available. For winter 2021/22 the Resort will provide 5 and 6 beds in a select number of employee housing units with rent available for employees at less than $500. This brings the resorts employee housing bed total to more than 500.  

Employer-Based Childcare: To take a lead role to address a big issue facing our community, Steamboat Ski Resort is stepping up to find solutions to the childcare crisis in Routt County by taking the first steps to create an employer-based childcare facility. Targeted to open in late 2022, the resort will begin the process of opening a facility by hiring a director and working through the process of designating a location, acquiring permitting and licensing, hiring staff and other logistics to open a new daycare. SSRC is one of only a handful of ski resorts to offer this crucial benefit to parents who work at the resort, and is one of eight Colorado businesses selected to participate in a one-of-a-kind design lab for employer-based early childhood education centers through Executives Partnering to Invest in Children (EPIC) which will help the resort guide the development process. Providing childcare to SSRC staff is expected to free up to 35 childcare spaces in Routt County, considered a childcare desert by the Colorado Office of Early Childhood.

“Steamboat Ski Resort has long been known as a top family resort, now we are standing by our brand by supporting our staff families and building a community of the littlest Steamboat team members,” said Rob Perlman, president and COO of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. “We recognize there are many issues facing our community, and this is a big first step for the resort to support families in the valley. While this looks like a benefit just for our staff, the impacts are far reaching. Childcare is often a barrier in recruitment and retainment for the resort, and an employer-based facility can eliminate that hurdle for mothers and fathers wanting to work here. The staff benefits because they are able to find quality childcare provided by us, and the community benefits because new spaces for childcare are available at local facilities where SSRC staff members previously took their children. We hope this is a win for everyone and it’s a commitment to our future.” 

Flights

16 nonstop flights: Steamboat’s air program continues to be one of the most robust in the Rocky Mountains with flights to Steamboat from 16 domestic airports, the most in resort history.  Major air carriers include American, Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest and United. Winter seasonal flights begin in December and run through March, making Steamboat accessible from anywhere in the world. www.steamboat.com/flights

Resort Sustainability

One of the resort’s top strategies is focusing on sustainability- specifically at the resort, within the Steamboat Springs community and within our team. In 2021 and for the upcoming winter season, SSRC has made numerous leaps towards sustainable improvements including:

  • Initiative to eliminate single use plastic bottles by providing reusable drink cups wherever possible and replacing all single-use plastic drink containers with aluminum.
  • Participating in project management of the Routt County Climate Action Plan to help develop strategies for emissions reduction in our community.
  • Partnering with The Nature Conservancy to host community discussion about climate change impacts and action through the lens of ski resort operations.
  • Outreach support for Yampa River Basin Rendezvous and Routt County Wildfire Mitigation Council.
  • Participation on the Innovative Transportation Task Force with the city and county to identify innovative solutions for local and regional transportation.

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