5 Minutes with … Old Town Hot Springs Executive Director Stephanie Orozco
Newly renovated Old Town Hot Springs (oldtownhotsprings.org) is a true gem in town, complete with four soaking pools, back-soothing waterfalls, pool-plunging climbing wall, heated lap pool and 230-foot water slides for the kids. It also has an array of fitness rooms and classes, massage offerings, an indoor running lap and climbing wall, and more. (Check its website for COVID-19 restrictions.) We caught up with Executive Director Stephanie Orozco for her take on soaking in everything the hot springs and Steamboat have to offer.
When and why did you move to Steamboat?
I moved here in the fall of 1994 because I had such fond memories of ski trips here as a kid with my brothers and parents. The community is what made those trips special; the lift operators singing country music and handing out Hershey Kisses to the kids as we skied by, the cowboy shuttle driver that named us the East Coast Bandits and remembered us year after year. After visiting throughout my childhood, I knew I had to make this place my home.
What do you like about the town?
I love Steamboat because of the people who give it such a strong sense of community. There are not many mountain towns that have such a robust group of locals who take such pride and ownership of their community. It is inspiring.
Why is Steamboat a good place to base a business?
Steamboat has a strong entrepreneurial spirit and continues to be more and more accessible, which lends itself to potential growth. The beauty of the Yampa Valley is inspirational, and the commute is the bee’s knees.
How unique are the hot springs here compared to other communities?
One of the most unique aspects of our Heart Spring is its preservation over the centuries by Ute Indians, early settlers and town fathers to our modern-day community members and guests from around the world. Every time you soak in the pools, you are taking a step back into Yampa Valley history.
Why is Old Town Hot Springs an integral piece of the community?
As Routt County’s only public swimming pool, the greatest impact to the community rests in our ability to teach the lifesaving skill of swimming. The beautiful Yampa River is inescapably intertwined in our lives, so we have the privilege and responsibility to make sure the youth of our community are comfortable near and in the water.
What did you do to adapt to the COVID-19 protocols and how did guests respond?
Our team drafted a comprehensive facility plan with the assistance of many professionals. It aligns with state and county mandates as well as CDC guidelines and is continually updated and modified as amendments to Public Health Orders and Executive Orders are approved. Guests responded to our reopening with gratitude and wonder at how safe and accessible the facility can be under such strict guidelines.
What all does the recent renovation include?
A 15,000-square-foot addition to the building, which includes expanded fitness center, community and education space with a kitchen for nutrition, indoor walking track, climbing wall, and a state-of-the-art HVAC system for the entire building. But what’s more important is how we use these spaces to connect and support the health and wellness of the Yampa Valley. We now turn our attention to the lap pool that will be reconstructed to meet the growing needs of the community.
What are some of Steamboat’s other great attributes?
It’s a long list. Howelsen Hill is an absolute gem for our youth; we have a plethora of nonprofit organizations that serve all aspects of our community; we have amazing public schools and teachers who truly care about our children; and UCHealth is a true pillar and driving force for our community’s health and wellness.
What’s one thing you wish you knew about Steamboat before you moved here?
The Yampa Valley Curse: Once you move here, it is impossible to leave. Not that I’m complaining, but it has certainly been a wild ride. I’m grateful to still be here, 26 years later, married with two boys and a chubby dog.
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