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What to look for at Steamboat this coming ski season

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Building on last winter’s improvements at Steamboat Ski Resort – including the Four Points Lodge, Night Skiing and Riding and numerous grooming and snowmaking enhancements – the majority of this year’s projects focus on the mountain experience with Thunderhead Lodge, snowmaking, grooming, expanded night operations and guest services.

Here’s what’s on tap this season, starting with what’s happening on the snow, then moving to dining and the overall mountain experience…

Grooming: Joining the fleet this season is a new Bison Sherpa winch, which Steamboat says is the first of its kind in Colorado, as well as the new generation of winches from Prinoth with 5.3 tons of pulling force and an automatic pulling force control system.

The Bison Sherpa augments the Beast, which started grooming the slope’s mid-winter last season and will be used to tackle some of Steamboat’s steepest terrain and portions of its terrain parks. The resort’s fleet, operated in two shifts, re-surfaces approximately 600 acres nightly to a premium corduroy finish and encompasses 21 machines, including nearly half of the fleet utilizing Bison or Beast groomers.

Snowmaking: Steamboat’s snowmaking system is being upgraded this winter with over two miles of pipe, more than 11,000 feet, across See Me, Upper See Ya, Sitz, top of Vogue to Jess’ Cut-Off and Sitz to Boulevard. Plus, two new 12 ft. by 16 ft. blockhouses at Jess’ Cut-Off and the Christie Peak Mid-Station will provide new valve stations for intersecting pipe lines in those critical areas. The new lines will significantly accelerate the resort’s ability to produce snow as tower guns can be spaced 75 feet apart to more efficiently cover the trails.

Over the past six seasons, the resort has installed nearly 18 miles/46.5km of water and air pipe for snowmaking. These improvements are all designed to further efforts to use less electrical energy and water in production while being more efficient when producing the early season snow base.

Night Operations: Coming off its inaugural season of night skiing and snowboarding, Steamboat will add two additional nights for skiers and riders under the lights. Night Operations will now be available Thursday through Monday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and from 6-9 p.m. during spring. In addition, a new Patrol/Maintenance Station at the top of Christie Peak Express will be constructed, creating a home base for nighttime patrollers and their equipment. The two-story facility will also serve lift maintenance, providing repair and work space.

Ticket Office & Private Lounge: All ticket office services will move into the One Steamboat Place location, including all options for lift tickets, frequency passes and season passes as well as all SnowSports School tickets. A new SnowSports Privates Lounge, in the former main ticket office space in the Gondola Building, will provide sales and a meeting area for those participating in private lessons.

Mountain Cams: Steamboat’s Mountain Cam network is comprised of a series of cameras located across the resort, which continually update images with real-time conditions on the mountain. The resort adds four to six new camera locations to add to last year’s upgrades, which included the Champagne Powder cam.

Digital Network: A new comprehensive network of digital displays, located across the base area and at the top of the gondola, will stream key resort information, unique events and programs as well as real-time weather and mountain conditions. This network complements the resort’s current digital technology capabilities including mobile site, smartphone app and SMS messaging platforms.

Direct Flights: Steamboat has announced two new nonstop winter flights from San Francisco and Washington Dulles International Airports, as well as expanded nonstop service on the Los Angeles and Seattle routes and additional weekend flights from Chicago and Houston. Steamboat’s 2014/15 winter flight program provides access from 11 major airports (Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Newark/NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington-Dulles) on Alaska, American, Delta and United with connections from more than 300 airports nationwide and worldwide.

Steamboat Ski & Sport Sheraton Expansion: Steamboat Ski & Sport Sheraton is one of the resort’s most popular retail/rental locations. To accommodate growing needs, the shop will expand its square footage by more than 35 percent to nearly 6,300 square feet. The newly remodeled and designed space will provide expanded rental service. Additionally, expect increased merchandise, equipment and a variety of other products. The resort’s rental fleet will continue its annual upgrade of equipment, adding the latest ski and snowboard technology spread across the resort’s Ski & Sport locations.

Steamboat Grand Hotel: Improvements continue across Mt. Werner Circle at the Steamboat Grand with major projects, including installation of new window coverings and sofa sleepers in units, extensive renovation and upgrades to the whirlpool hot tubs and pool, new “quiet” refrigerators in studios, refinished woodwork in penthouse units and new elevator lobby carpet on all floors.

Thunderhead Lodge: Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the Gondola received a makeover this summer. A new color scheme with rock treatments highlights the exterior enhancements. Inside the building there’s new carpeting, custom wood accents and a redesigned Thunderhead Red’s Bar. Similar to the layout of the Four Points bar, Thunderhead Red’s will double in size and expand to include the eastern side of the building taking advantage of the east-facing window views of Mt. Werner and Storm Peak. In addition, equipment upgrades throughout a number of kitchens will improve the facility’s culinary offerings.

Bear River Terrace: For daytime operations, the Bear River BBQ will become a permanent fixture on the Terrace, offering burgers, hot dogs and other grilled specialties for those wishing to dine outside. The Umbrella Bar, located on the first tier of the Terrace, will add lights and a heating system to accommodate guests during special evening hours.

OpenTable: OpenTable is a real-time online reservation service throughout Steamboat’s family of restaurants this winter. With OpenTable, resort restaurants will be able to manage reservations more efficiently, streamline operations and enhance service levels. For you, it means finding the restaurants that best fit your dining occasions, available tables, real-time reservations, restaurant reviews, menus and other helpful information.

Summer: Hey, it’s still summer, and this summer the Steamboat Bike Park unveiled two new trails, a beginner trail called Tenderfoot and an expert jump trail named Flying Diamond, and added professional downhiller, Trevyn Newpher, as Bike Park manager. Crews also began working on a new trail that is expected to premiere in summer 2015.

Thirty dedicated carriers for the gondola were specially designed for bikes making the gondola experience more enjoyable and convenient. As Gondola Square becomes the summer hub, new and expanded events and activities have been added, which includes an extra night of Twilight riding. Summer 2014 saw the addition of Gem Panning to the Coca Cola Adventure Zone and the Steamboat Mountain Music Series and Coca Cola Movies on the Mountain series.

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