There is no mistaking that Steamboat Resort is one of the most iconic ski resorts in the U.S. It was founded in the 1950s, and since that time, it has become a Mecca for skiers from around the world. Located in southwestern Colorado, Steamboat Ski Resort offers some of the most breathtaking views of any ski resort, along with expertly crafted ski trails and a winter wonderland vibe.
But how big is Steamboat Ski Resort, really? Does it fit all the stereotypes that you might have about a typical ski resort? How many hotel rooms and condo units are there really? What’s the snowmaking budget, and how much do the skiers and snowboarders spend in the resort?
Growth In The ‘70s
It was in the ‘70s that Steamboat Ski Resort experienced its first major boom. The resort received a significant reinvestment from the community, and the owners expanded the mountain’s ski terrain, added additional chairlift, and upgraded snowmaking and grooming capabilities. These improvements undoubtedly made a difference, and in the ‘70s, Steamboat became a mecca for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Steamboat grew rapidly, and in 1979, the season covered 40.6 ski trails, which is more than double the size of the trails it had in the ‘70s. According to the Denver Business Journal, between 1970 and 1980, Steamboat’s lodging capacity increased by 84 percent.
Expansion In The 21st Century
Between 2000 and 2010, Steamboat’s popularity declined as other resorts offered more attractive packages and amenities to tourists. However, in recent years, the resort has seen a resurgence in popularity, and today it offers some of the best ski and snowboarding terrain in North America. The new expansion, entitled the Steamboat Supertrail, provides an intermediate skier with enough terrain to satisfy any craving, along with expertly crafted expert backcountry trails for advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Ski Resort Stats
As its popularity has surged, Steamboat has worked hard to retain its title as the king of the hill. To do this, it has increased its efforts to continually improve the mountain and make it more attractive to tourists. In 2018, for example, the resort introduced an eco-friendly ski pass that charges guests based on the length of their ski trip, rather than the number of days they visit the resort. This change, which went into effect in August 2018, encourages tourists to embrace alternative methods of transportation and reduces their footprint on the environment while on vacation.
These types of measures, along with the expansion of the Steamboat Supertrail, have helped to boost the popularity of the resort, and based on Google Trends data, searches for “Steamboat Ski Resort” have increased by 108 percent between April 2018 and March 2019.
The data also shows that over the last year, searches for “Steamboat Ski Resort” have exceeded those for “Lake Tahoe,” suggesting that, for now, Steamboat is still the place to be, at least for internet searchers.
Let’s take a look at some other key statistics about the resort.
Skiing And Snowboarding Are Popular Activities
Based on the number of hotel rooms and condo units available at the resort, as well as the level of amenities, it’s clear that skiing and snowboarding are popular activities at Steamboat. Day passes for the 2018-19 ski season cost between $105 and $128, pretty much in line with other top U.S. ski resorts. This suggests that, for now, the snow-loving population of North America is likely still going to be graced with powder in the coming months.
What’s more, Steamboat Resort, like most other prominent U.S. ski resorts, has transitioned from being a winter sport to a year-round destination. The mountain is open all year long, and there is a constant stream of snowmaking machines dispensing snow over the entire ski terrain.
Tourists Spend $19 Billion Per Year
Ski resorts, especially those in the United States, have seen an increase in popularity, in part, because they offer a wealth of experiences and beautiful scenery, not to mention the opportunity to purchase goods and services at luxury outlets dotted around the resort. According to the Swiss Reinsurance Company, as of 2015, the average annual household income of a Swiss villager was 15,500 francs, or roughly $15,500. That’s more than enough to pay for a small vacation in a traditional Swiss village, which is just a short drive or a cable car ride away from the beginning of a ski run.
In that same year, Swiss Reinsurance Company data also showed that the biggest expenditure for typical Swiss families was on restaurants and cafes, especially those located in the local area. Families tended to visit these venues more than they did attractions such as museums or galleries, even though they might be located in the same town.
In the United States, we spend a similar amount of money on dining out, but we tend to eat in more expensive restaurants and spend more on drinks than in Europe. Thus, while we might not save much with our travel arrangements, we’re likely to blow out our budget on vacation, especially if we want to engage in any activities other than chilling by the fireplace at a cozy inn.
Hotel Rooms And Condo Units
The number of hotel rooms and condo units at Steamboat suggests that the demand for these types of accommodation is currently high. According to the Colorado Lodging Association, there were 2.2 million room nights sold by hotel chains and independent property administrators in 2018, valued at $19.6 billion. Hotels and resorts have adjusted their rates and promotions to meet this demand, with the result being that average room rates are currently at their highest since 2012.
The popularity of vacation rentals also continues to grow, and while the number of nightly rooms sold by Airbnb, VRBO, and other such sites around the world is confidential, it’s clear that vacation rentals contribute to the growing demand for hotel rooms and condo units. For example, Google Search volumes for “condo vacation rentals” have increased by 89 percent between April 2018 and March 2019. Vacation Rentals Direct, an online travel agency, estimates that there will be 1.2 million vacation rentals across the world in 2019, representing a 23 percent increase in the number of available rooms compared to 2018. In other words, hoteliers and property managers should be doing all they can to attract international guests, who, based on their interest in traveling to Europe, might spend a greater proportion of their vacation visiting France, Germany, and other such destinations, as opposed to staying in a traditional hotel and relying on room service.
How Does The Resort Compare To Other Top-Ranked U.S. Ski Resorts?
Does Steamboat fit all the stereotypes about a typical ski resort? The short answer is no. While it might resemble other top resorts in that it’s incredibly popular and has a ton of services available, there is an abundance of difference. It’s hard to say exactly how much difference, because the resort’s data is closely guarded, but it’s clear that some of the changes made by the owners over the years have significantly altered the landscape.
Based on the metrics we’ve discussed so far, it would be safe to say that while Steamboat is still a very popular ski resort, it might not fit all the stereotypes. In fact, a closer look reveals that it’s far from typical, and it offers a glimpse into the future of skiing and snowboarding, as well as winter tourism in general.
The information we’ve discussed so far should give you a good idea of how big, popular, and well-known Steamboat Ski Resort is compared to other prominent U.S. ski resorts. While the metrics are all there, it’s the experience, both on and off the mountain, that makes this resort special. The owners have worked hard to ensure that Steamboat provides a lasting impression on every visitor, and based on the metrics discussed above, it’s clear that they’ve done a good job of establishing the resort as a must-visit for anyone interested in skiing and snowboarding.