City, resort officials intent on boosting visitors’ sense of arrival at Steamboat resort |

City, resort officials intent on boosting visitors’ sense of arrival at Steamboat resort

Reinforcing Steamboat brand while improving road intersections

Snow stacks up on a sign at the Steamboat Ski Area.
John F. Russell

— A group of resort leaders is working to ensure that future visitors approaching the base of Mount Werner experience a strong sense of having arrived in Steamboat Springs, both in practical and aesthetic terms.

The effort could result in redesigning multiple road intersections as well as creating a new “iconic entry feature” and way-finding features along the approach to the base of the ski area.

Creating a sense of arrival to the resort has a lot to do with branding, Urban Renewal Authority project manager Ralph Walton said Thursday. But people’s ability to follow signs and navigate intersections is also a significant contributor to the overall impression.

“If you think of any brand (Coca Cola for example), they go to great lengths to support that brand,” Walton said. “It conjures up lots of images fostered through advertising and one’s experience with the product. Branding starts way before people arrive,” but once they do arrive, “We want the story to be consistent with what motivated them to make a purchase in the first place.”

At the urging of the Urban Redevelopment Authority Advisory Committee, which guided the development of the heated promenade at the edge of the ski trails five years ago, the city of Steamboat Springs, through its redevelopment authority, has issued a request for proposals from design teams to study the ski area arrival experience. The study area comprises Mount Werner Road leading from U.S. Highway 40 to Mount Werner Circle.

The same funds that paid for the promenade and the daylighting of Burgess Creek, derived from tax incremental financing, would build the public improvements in the arrival corridor.

For the design firm that is awarded the work, part of the challenge will be looking at the entry corridor and determining the best ways to support the reactions and emotions Steamboat wants to reinforce in its visitors.

And it’s not just about vacationers, Walton said.

“It’s real estate purchases, people who decided to come here and open a business, and put their kids in the schools,” Walton said. “But for a lot of people it starts with their first ski trip, or for others, it’s a summer visit for a wedding.”

What about the Butterfly Barn?

If the term “iconic entry feature,” rings a bell, it’s because URAAC has stepped back from its plan, as recently as 2014, to use elements from a historic ranch building in disrepair, known as the Butterfly Barn near the Meadows parking lot, to build a smaller replica barn at the intersection of Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle.

According to Walton, those plans are on hold at least until the new design firm completes its work, and he said URAAC is open to proposals for entry signs other than a barn. The barn would have replaced a low-key “Steamboat” logo sign near the intersection of Mount Werner Road and Central Park Drive.

URAAC has 10 projects it wants studied, and of those, five involve intersections. The need for additional transit stops will also be studied. And there’s also room for more artistic enhancements that would also require infrastructure.

If for instance, the design team recommended that a series of bronze statues of galloping horses leading people to the ski base would elevate sense of arrival, Walton said, they would need to be lighted for evening arrivals, creating the need to get electrical infrastructure in place.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.