Poor East Coast. Last year was epic but it’s been a hard season, and while we’re diehard weekend Vermonters, we needed a little break from the wet cold and a little reminder as to why we spend all our free time in this continual loop of going up and down a mountain on these smooth little sticks and call it skiing.
So naturally, we packed up our badass 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser, checked that a blizzard was on its way, and headed out West to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Steamboat is known for their iconic Champagne Powder®, a Dom inspired name that’s so iconic it’s a trademark of the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. Local rancher Joe McElroy coined the phrase in the early ‘50s when he was out skiing one particularly sunny day. The waist deep powder was in its prime, and as he carved out his turns the snow sprayed his face, so he turned to his friends and said the stuff tickled his nose like champagne. The rest, as they say, is history. No other ski resort has its snow trademarked, and there’s no other place you’ll find Champagne Powder®.
SKIING THE TREES
It lives up to the hype. When it snows on the mountain, it’s more of a rime and fog mix than heavy flakes, and for whatever reason, the stuff is special. It’s one of the most balanced resorts we’ve ever visited. Kids, old timers, first timers, experts, adrenaline-junkies, doesn’t matter, this is a FUN mountain.
We drove through crazy conditions all across Nebraska and Colorado, feeling the anticipation of each flake hitting the windshield and just knowing what a difference it would make out on the slopes. We arrived road weary and disheveled to the luxurious One Steamboat Place, where pure rustic perfection awaited. One Steamboat Place offers whole ownership of a residence or the convenience of shared ownership through a five-star Private Residence Club and is situated slopeside, where you can slip out of your slippers, into your boots and onto the gondola. After chasing the powder and skiing the trees all day you can ski on down to your ski valet, who will tune your gear, warm your boots and have them waiting the next morning.
The après scene at One Steamboat is a friendly and inviting atmosphere, with complimentary drinks to soothe the aches of the day and cocoa to warm your insides. The entire staff could not be more helpful—your wish is literally their command. Whether you want to put your feet up or kick your heels up, there’s simply no place like home at One Steamboat Place.
ON-MOUNTAIN LUNCH AT HAZIE’S
But, back to the reason we plowed along for 21 hours in a blizzard—the slopes! And the trees! So perfectly spaced and pitched you’ll think God himself planted each of them with the powderhound in mine. The best tree runs are 2000′ of pure bliss, and we guarantee that after a few runs down Triangle 3, Shadows, Closets and Fletcher Glades, you’ll be grinning from ear to ear. On mountain dining is a refreshing surprise, with fine dining at Hazie’s in your ski boots that delivers fantastic fresh food and zero of the pretense often found at other resorts. The General Tso’s duck wings are crazy addicting and will either instigate a full-on food coma or refuel your body for that second wind to slay the double blacks after lunch.
STRAWBERRY PARK HOT SPRINGS
Colorado’s mountains have plenty of activities to get your heart racing, but they’re also perfect for kicking back. The best way to unwind (besides the après drinks, of course) is the local all natural hot springs, where you can soothe sore muscles after a long day of hiking or skiing.
Just a short drive away is Strawberry Park Hot Springs, an unforgettable natural hot springs that brings new meaning to the words ‘pure bliss.’ Kick the torture chamber ski boots off and soak those weary legs in 104 degree mineral water while flurries dust your nose and eyelashes. It’s magical.
Stay in a tent or rent a rustic cabin, and make sure to book the signature watsu treatment: a bodywork massage that takes place in geothermal waters. Get back to nature by going au naturel — the hot springs become clothing optional after dark (although we’ve got to admit, we only checked it out in the safety of daylight).
DINNER AT THE LAUNDRY
Don’t skip town without dinner at The Laundry. Aside from the atmosphere—warm and rustic in all-over wood and exposed brick—Laundry fills a dining niche in Steamboat with its long list of tapas style small plates (a relative term as everything is still pretty hearty) and its longer list of cocktails and aperitifs.
The house infused jalapeno tequila for a spicy margarita will knock your Darn Toughs right off. The light meals here usually start with house specialty jars, filled with pickled blueberry liver pate or white bean and piquillo pepper hummus; then assorted cheeses and cured meats, followed by duck carnitas tacos or sautéed and salted shishito peppers. Not a bite disappoints.
Steamboat is a special town, with a genuinely welcoming attitude and a bit of magic around every corner. Next time you hear the forecast, let everyone else flock to the store for bread and milk and set the GPS for Steamboat. You’ll be drunk on the champagne powder before you know it.