The Steamboat Grand perfectly embodies the western spirit created long ago by ranchers in this Northern Rocky Mountain town. When I first visited Steamboat Springs in 1968, the town was a ranching community with a ski hill in the middle producing Olympic champion ski racers as fast as you can say slalom. About two miles south, Mount Werner ski area was being developed, completely separate from town. Now Steamboat Resort—the village at the ski area and the town—is an international ski destination. Steamboat Grand is in the village and is managed by the ski area.
The entrance gives an impressive sense of place. A timber-framed porte cochère gives way to a double grand staircase leading to a massive two-level lobby featuring native stone and wood. A lovely trickling waterfall separates the staircases. (We schlepped our luggage up the stairs before noticing a small elevator on the side.)
The decor is a mix of Native American designs and the Cartwright estate in Bonanza. True to the Old West, a huge stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the warm and inviting living room where you expect Hoss Cartwright to come out to greet you.
Rooms at the Steamboat Grand
As gorgeous as the common areas are (even the hallway carpet has a cool Native American motif), the guest rooms are Plain Jane. Our double queen is uninspiring and sparse, with a small desk, TV on a small dresser, and a lounge chair. A couple of unframed original photos (by local artists Larry Pierce or Cindy Marlow) are the only color in this vanilla room. The bathroom is small with one sink (for a room that sleeps four!) and a bathtub shower. The closet holds a safe, iron/ironing board and humidifier, but we had to order a small fridge for an extra $5 a day.
The 328 guestrooms include various options besides the double queen: king (with fireplace, jacuzzi tub, balcony); studio; parlor (sofa sleeper, kitchen, fireplace, bath); one- two- and three-bedroom condos (privately owned); and eight penthouses. The penthouses that sleep eight carry over the western theme and are very “grand.” All units include WiFi, ski valet service, concierge, and shuttle service to town, and nearly all have sweeping mountain views! A seven-percent resort fee is added.
Dining at the Steamboat Grand
The Cabin dining room has log-cabin walls and fake Aspen trees to simulate dining in an Aspen forest. It’s a little too kitschy for me, but the food and service are good. The menu features locally-sourced food for American classics. During ski season, you’ll find a breakfast buffet. There’s also a grab ‘n go cafe off the lobby, a poolside bar and bistro (bar only during winter), and room service.
Amenities at the Steamboat Grand
Hot tubs are practically a necessity at ski resort hotels, and the Steamboat Grand has two outdoor tubs around its heated saltwater pool. There’s also a fitness center, sauna, steam room and spa. The Grand Spa offers massage, facials and body treatments using a paraben-free product line. A small gift shop with mostly Steamboat logo stuff is in the lobby cafe. You can rent ski equipment in the lobby sport shop that will be waiting for you in the storage locker closer to the gondola. Parking is tricky. You can valet it for $17/day, self-park in the hotel garage for $12/day, or park across the street for $5/day.
What To Do Around the Steamboat Grand
Steamboat has long been a playground for robust outdoor mountain activities. In winter there’s skiing (including night skiing/riding and snowcat skiing/riding); snowshoeing; dog sledding; ice skating; snowmobiling; sleigh rides; tubing; and mountain coaster (winter and summer). Steamboat hosts the longest-running Winter Carnival in the West and a wacky Cowboy Downhill every season. Bridgestone puts on a great winter driving school that helped me learn to drive on snow and ice. Summer brings hiking and biking on mountains and roads; rafting and fishing on the Yampa River; hot air ballooning; and plenty of ways to “cowboy up” like horseback riding, weekly rodeos, and the world-famous F. M. Light & Sons western wear store. In town, you can go to the music festival, opera, art shows, farmers markets, and the fun Old Town Hot Springs (families) and sexy Strawberry Park Hot Springs (adults, a little out of town) for good hot soaks. Restaurant suggestions: Mahogany Ridge for dinner; Winona’s for breakfast and lunch.
Is there more? Yes! Visit steamboatchamber.com.
Steamboat Grand, 2300 Mt Werner Circle, Steamboat Springs, CO 80487; 877-306-2628; steamboatgrand.com
Claudia Carbone is an award-winning travel writer based in Denver. Read about other hotels she’s visited in Sleepin’ Around.