Insider, local knowledge is key if you’re looking to tick off all the must-do activities, see all the highlights and have an authentic experience on your next ski trip. Locals are chock full of ideas and inspiration to make your ski trip unforgettable, so who better to tap for insider guidance, than the local lodging concierges? That’s why we’ve created a new Ski.com Blog series: Concierge Conversations, where you can glean great destination-based tips and recommendations and learn a bit more about some of the area’s top lodging options.
We tapped, Kelly Meuse, who’s been a concierge at the Steamboat Grand and living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado for one year, and Bell Captain Gordon Dewey, who’s been working at the Steamboat Grand and living there for six years, to answer a couple questions about their favorite aspects of their hometown and place of work.
A few of Kelly and Gordon’s favorite things
Ski.com: What drew you to Steamboat Springs originally and what has kept you there?
KM: Last summer, I knew that I wanted to move to Colorado. I looked into many of the resort communities all over the state, and even stayed a few days in some of them as I was traveling. Ideally, I wanted to be in a ski town with accessible transportation, exciting nightlife, friendly people and fluffy snow. I didn’t really find that in the other places that I stopped at, so I continued north until I got to Steamboat. It had everything that I was looking for! I felt at home instantly. The locals are great and the skiing is phenomenal. I was just planning on staying one week on my friends couch to get a feel for it, and then I ended up deciding to stay for the winter. Now it is the end of the summer and I’m still here with no plans of leaving. This is the greatest ski town I have ever lived in!
GD: Of course, I do love to ride the mountain in the winter…but as they say in ski towns, “come for the winter, stay for the summer.” The reality here is very much like that. As this place transitions from Ski Town USA to Bike Town USA, there is no shortage of things to do in both winter and summer settings. There are some especially beautiful wilderness areas located right in our backdoor for hiking and camping. Also, our stretch of the Yampa River, which runs right through town, is such an easy access spot for rafting and kayaking (early season), tubing and fly fishing. Lastly, there is only one Strawberry Park Hot Springs, and it’s all ours.
Ski.com: What are your three favorite things to do in Steamboat in the winter?
KM: Well, of course, I love to ski and snowboard, as it is almost a crime not to enjoy at least one of those things as being a resident of Steamboat Springs. I also enjoy hiking during all seasons, so I often hike in boots or snowshoes up Emerald Mountain and Fish Creek Falls, depending on how many inches of snow the previous night has brought us. Lastly, I enjoy just being in town during the winter months. The downtown area is the cutest little thing in the wintertime. The shops are all very welcoming and the main drag, Lincoln Avenue, looks so picturesque with the Steamboat Resort perfectly back-dropped. I love picking up a good book to read at one of the local shops and sitting inside the warmth and just watching the pillows of snow fall outside.
GD: Ski the mountain, go for a snowshoe hike, and enjoy some of our town’s winter nightlife.
Ski.com: In your opinion, what are some secrets or lesser known facts about Steamboat that visitors should know?
KM: I have worked at other ski resorts in the past, but never have an experience such a large resort with such ease of access. Lines are almost unheard of on the mountain. It is crazy to me what little time skiers and riders spend standing in a line to access such fantastic terrain. I’ve never worked at a resort at which I can get so many runs in through the day.
GD: The greater area is still a big ranching community. That is the town’s heritage, and I think we still reflect that a bit with both our Old West theme and our laid-back attitude. The river we tube on during the summer goes right past the rodeo grounds, which is next to our ski jumps. That says something about our town—it’s all right there! For many avid skiers and snowboarders, the winter time is all about our abundance aspen trees! Also, we have had more winter Olympic athletes compete than any other town in the U.S., but I would bet that not as many people know that.
Ski.com: What are some secrets or lesser known facts about the Steamboat Grand?
KM: We have an endless list of amenities. First of all, we have the best pool in town. Yes, many hotels have pools, but ours contain salt water instead of all those harmful chemicals that can be bad for your skin and hair. We have two large hot tubs attached to the pool which make sitting outside in the winter, possibly even during a snowfall, a magical experience.
Also, we have an equipment rental shop right within the hotel on the main level. This means renting gear couldn’t be more convenient—they can size you up the night that you check in so there’s no waiting in the morning before you head over to catch some turns on the mountain! Lastly, the staff is incredible. We are like one big family over here at the Grand. Since we are all under one roof, each department communicates very well with all the others. Whether you’re checking in, valeting your vehicle, eating at the Cabin restaurant or Grand Café, having a cocktail at the pool or getting your daily housekeeping service in your room, we all work hard together to make your stay as unique, fun and warm as it can be!
GD: The Steamboat Grand has condominiums to purchase, which has a lot of added benefits for people who want to use the same amenities as those who enjoy our nightly room rentals. We are located across the street from the ski area, but we valet guests’ ski and snowboard equipment across the street to our ski storage and ski valet locations at the gondola plaza, which is right next to the gondola entrance. This is a complementary service for our guests and owners.
Ski.com: If you could only ski or ride one run at Steamboat Resort for the rest of your life, what would it be?
KM: I actually enjoy hiking at little before getting to ride down. The terrain here at Steamboat is so unlike anything else I’ve experienced before, being an East Coast native. This was my first ski season enjoying Steamboat, so I love trying a little bit of everything. I found that there are so many hidden gems all over the mountain and some take a just a little extra effort. Areas off the very top of Mount Werner are where I find myself the most, especially trails like North St. Pats and East Face.
GD: Here, at Steamboat, our gladed areas have names, too! The views and thrills you can get from and around Fetcher Glade off the Pony Express lift are hard to top, especially when the powder is just right.
Ski.com: When guests ask you for the local scoop on après-ski/dining/nightlife what do you recommend?
KM: I may be biased, but the restaurant that is located right within our hotel, called The Cabin, offers an excellent après-ski happy hour. It is one of the best deals that you can get in the base area and offers and warm and sophisticated environment for a cocktail after a day on the mountain. On warmer days, Bear River Bar & Grill is a local favorite for outdoor seating right at the bottom of mountain. As the night goes on, I always recommend going downtown to visit the local brewery, Mahogany Ridge, to enjoy local brews, great appetizers and an inviting atmosphere. There’s always live music to catch while you’re walking around downtown. All the fun bars and restaurants are located within a few blocks of each other so finding a good spot is pretty easy.
GD: For Bloodys, it’s either Hazie’s or Four Points on the mountain! For happy hour, the Umbrella Bar at the base is a good start. There Slopeside Grill is very popular and The T-Bar offers the “local feel.” Also, our own restaurant, The Cabin, has great food, and you can easily carry happy hour over into a great dining experience. For nightlife, head to Double Diamonds, which is right around the corner from the Steamboat Grand. Or take the bus or Grand shuttle downtown for some live music at Schmiggity’s or Old Town Pub. Sunpies Bistro also has a long history of being “That New Orleans Bar on the River.” Don’t forget the late-night happy hour at Mahogany Ridge.
Ski.com: When guests ask you for recommendations for family experiences, what are your don’t-miss spots and restaurants?
KM: Steamboat is a great place for families! Our resort has received wide recognition for our family-friendliness. This is due to our wide variety of terrain and activities for all ages and skill sets. Easy-access restaurants like Slopeside offer simple food like pizzas and sandwiches with ski in ski out accessibility. We have great instructors here, and if kids aren’t into skiing and riding there are so many other options for them such as horseback rides, sleigh rides and tubing—to name a few.
GD: Old Town Hot Springs makes the kids happy. It’s located right downtown and has a rock wall and waterslide. There are also both Fuzziwig’s and Rocket Fizz candy shops downtown, as well as In Celebration of Kids. Our Bud Werner Memorial Library is also very amazing, and has a coffee shop for the parents, as well as a large kids’ zone. There are multiple tubing options in town, including Howelsen Hill and Saddleback Ranch. It is really hard to pick a single restaurant that is more family-friendly than others in this town. It really is such a family-friendly town, especially when you start to compare it with some other ski towns.
Ski.com: When guests ask you for recommendations for upscale experiences what are your don’t-miss spots and restaurants?
KM: The Cabin restaurant within the Grand Hotel is a great option for classy dining. They have really refined their menu to into something tasty and unique. If you’re looking for upscale fine dining, Café Diva is a wonderful option. Located right in the base area, be sure to call ahead and make a reservation!
GD: Harwig’s is another very special experience, with a fantastic chef. Aurum is also quickly becoming the new hotspot for an upscale dining experience.
Ski.com: What winter event or time of ski season do you look forward to most and why?
KM: There is always so much going on and so much to do in Steamboat. It’s tough enough to choose just one thing to do each night, let alone choose one favorite overall. Winter Carnival is such a fun time here in Steamboat. The festivities are usually during the first or second weekend in February, when winter is in full swing. Winter Carnival takes place downtown for the most part, with lots of fun competitions and spectator events, not to mention the giant firework display. It seems that Steamboat looks for any excuse to have a fireworks show. They are usually here on the mountain for most winter holidays.
GD: Carnival has a long tradition here, as does the Cowboy Downhill. Both of those are really fun to watch! Also, we are getting Winter Wondergrass [a bluegrass and brewery festival] in town for the first time! I’m very excited about that!
Ski.com: What do you think makes the Steamboat Grand popular?
KM: I believe that The Steamboat Grand is popular because of its luxurious feel, base-area location and the efforts of all the individuals that work hard to make this place remarkable.
GD: Honestly, I think The Steamboat Grand is THE place to stay in town, period. That said, Steamboat has a lot to offer. It has that Western feel, and it has such great terrain to ski and snowboard on. I think people come here for the real feel of our mountain and town, which is unique. We have such a nice balance of tourism spots and an actual town that seem to be missing in a lot of ski towns.
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