Strawberry Park Hot Springs implements changes, requires reservations
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The ever-popular Strawberry Park Hot Springs has not been immune to the struggles plaguing small businesses throughout the country due to COVID-19. The business has been navigating changes to abide by health orders while trying to bring people back to work and make money.
“We’re in a survival mode,” said owner Don Johnson. “(We’re) figuring out how to do what we’re told we have to do and be able to pay employee wages, insurance and all that other stuff.”
In order to comply with state and local protocols, Strawberry Park Hot Springs is allowing 50 people per two-hour windows starting at 10 a.m., with the final session starting at 8 p.m.
Reservations can be made online at strawberryhotsprings.com and are free to make, but payment must be made at arrival. As usual, the park only accepts cash or checks.
To compensate for fewer patrons, prices have been raised to $20 per person.
Reservations are filling quickly for early July. August reservations will be available beginning July 15. Lodging is available as well by reservation.
Strawberry Park Hot Springs is no longer honoring or renewing season passes. According to Johnson, about 60 or 70 people, many of whom are close friends, have a season pass. However, as the park developed a new business strategy, the passes did not fit into that approach.
“Returning to a drastically revised operation for the past two weeks has meant a new reality for us all,” said manager Joe Stepan. “Memberships are currently not available for purchase, and there are no definite plans with regard to the future of the membership program.”
Stepan said current passholders can contact the hot springs and request a reimbursement. The program, which has been around for about 20 years, grants the passholder and a guest admission at a highly discounted rate.
“These are uncertain times,” Stepan said. “And we are doing our best to move forward in a way that allows us to provide an enjoyable guest experience for local patrons and for visitors alike.”
While some of the changes might be difficult to adjust to, Johnson said he’s just doing everything he can to keep his business viable, just like every other restaurant and store in Steamboat.
“We love Steamboat,” Johnson said. “We feel like we’re part of the community. We feel like we contribute.”
Johnson claims there has been a recent increase in trespassers coming to the hot springs at night. The springs are accessible by the main entrance off of Routt County Road 36, as well as by the Hot Springs Trail that begins off of Elk River Road. The trail itself is public and part of the Routt National Forest, but it cuts directly through Johnson’s property and leads to the hot springs, which are private property. Entering the springs after hours and without a reservation is trespassing.
Johnson, who has owned the land and the hot springs business for more than 40 years, said he loves welcoming visitors and the loyal locals but wishes people would respect his property and his business.
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