Our view: You can get there from here
Confusion experienced by guests arriving at the resort base for the first time
New roundabouts would do much to enhance the arrival experience at the ski resort
People who have lived through a couple of winters in Steamboat Springs have dialed in their trip to the ski area on those powder days when everybody is borderline frantic to get some untracked turns.
Residents of Old Town know it’s faster to turn left off U.S. Highway 40 at Pine Grove Road and take their chances with the stoplight. If you live in Whistler Meadows, you probably leave your SUV in the garage and jump on the SST bus for a short ride to the Gondola Transit Center. Once there, everyone knows it’s faster to tramp over the secret wooden bridge in their ski boots than head for the fire pits at OSP.
But it’s not so easy for vacationers trying to navigate all the approaches to the base of the ski area and vacation properties.
Consultants with BrightView Design Group came to Steamboat in late August to advise resort and municipal leaders on strategies to elevate the arrival experience at Mount Werner. They are working on behalf of the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority, which represents a source of funding for public improvements in the resort village.
BrightView consultants pointed out to more than 80 people who have a stake in the arrival experience at Mount Werner that the approach to the resort base, whether from Rabbit Ears Pass or Yampa Valley Regional Airport, presents a bewildering array of options. Finding the route to Burgess Creek Road, River Queen Lane or Medicine Springs Drive can be difficult to decipher in broad daylight, let alone on a dark winter night in the midst of the very snow storm vacationers had been praying for.
BrightView principle Brent Lloyd advised that Steamboat needs to engage its guests much sooner in the arrival process, with signage on U.S. 40 directing them to their destinations.
He painted a picture of a guest arriving at the resort, full of anticipation, following the signs to the gondola transit center in the midst of bustling condominium shuttles, only to find they aren’t close to their check-in office and have to return to Mount Werner Circle wondering which exit to take.
One of the best recommendations we heard from BrightView was an approach that addresses three key aspects to a gratifying vacation arrival: safety, wayfinding signage and public art or installations that send a non-verbal message about the genuine culture of the community.
We agree with BrightView that the oft-maligned traffic roundabout keeps traffic moving in a safe fashion. As a bonus, the center of the roundabout creates a focal point at which landscaping, signage and cultural connections can all be achieved in a highly visible way.
BrightView suggests that Steamboat consider installing new roundabouts at Mount Werner Road and Steamboat Boulevard, Mount Werner Road and Mount Werner Circle and Ski Time Square Drive and Mount Werner Circle. All three make sense to us.
No decision has yet been made to build traffic roundabouts, and there isn’t yet a budget for those improvements, but we earnestly hope they come to fruition.
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