Steamboat reclaiming its place among contemporary ski villages
December 1, 2009
The standard of luxury for vacation condominiums at Steamboat Ski Area is poised to gain a lofty plateau this ski season. And when Trailhead Lodge, One Steamboat Place and Edgemont welcome their first vacationers of the winter, a new design aesthetic will make itself known at the same time.
Interior designers in the Yampa Valley are steadily moving away from the lodge look and cowboys-and-Indians motifs that held sway through the first part of the decade. In their place, designers are working to achieve a deliberately ambiguous aesthetic.
It's a style meant to be adaptable. The understated Western look of reclaimed barn timbers married with sleek light fixtures and industrial steel allows art enthusiasts to show off divergent art collections — either a prized Remington bronze or an abstract Kandinsky painting — perhaps in the same room.
The Ranch House Interior Design in Boulder took the design lead at Trailhead, setting the tone with dark wood flooring, dry-stack rock fireplaces mounted with flat-screens and creamy granite slabs with chiseled edges. The lodge includes 86 fully furnished suites.
Trailhead led the trio of new condo projects, opening to guests in July. Early in 2010, its owners and guests will enjoy preferred status on a new people-mover gondola, ferrying people from Wildhorse Meadows up and over the knoll into an upper terminal where One Steamboat Place opened its public plaza in time for Thanksgiving skiers to enjoy a new fire pit. The arrival experience for skiers, diners and shoppers has at last been boosted into the 21st century.
Stand in front of the ski area's ticket windows facing southwest in the direction of the gabled condo tower of One Steamboat Place, then pivot on your heel and look at the existing gondola building with fresh eyes — the contrast is unmistakable.
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One Steamboat Place and Edgemont were on schedule in late October to host their owners for the first time early in 2010.
Edgemont is 10 slalom turns or a chairlift ride away from One Steamboat Place, slopeside and just up the Stampede trail.
Edgemont is distinctly different from Trailhead and One Steamboat Place in that it will not make formal arrangements with a property management company on behalf of its owners. That condition does not preclude owners from making their own rental arrangements, but vacation rentals will not be part of a management umbrella covering the entire project.
OSP declares code red
The interiors of the condominium homes at One Steamboat Place flow from a commitment to distinctive deep red cabinetry, beginning at the front door and continuing through the kitchen to a dining room banquette and on into one of several very individual bathrooms found in the larger units.
At OSP, developer David Burden's wife, Sandy, teamed with J Banks Design Group of Hilton Head, S.C.
Edgemont, again, is notably different from its Steamboat cousins in that individual owners will take responsibility for the interior design and furnishing of their vacation homes with the option of working with Slifer Designs, of the Vail Valley, which furnished the model unit.
Edgemont Project architect Oz Architecture chose deep brown cabinetry (just this side of black) with glass doors and elm wood floors, which have not been seen before in Steamboat. Subtle pastel colors on the walls are taken from nature, and kitchen islands capped in granite with an antique texture are another first in the resort village.
Freedom at Edgemont
Edgemont Sales Director Mark Murrell said that beyond the basic finishes, owners will enjoy great latitude to create homes that reflect their individual tastes.
"We're committed to working with our owners as if each condominium is a custom home," Murrell said. "I can't wait to see what some of them look like when they are completed. There are a few that are going quite modern and in a few, they'll be very rustic."
Emblematic of the varying design approaches is the reclaimed antique oak beam that is standard in the floor to ceiling fireplaces in every living room. The fireplace mantels were carefully planned to allow the option of placing a flat-screen television above the fireplace, or leaving it free to display art.
We can anticipate that more than a few Edgemont owners will take Slifer's suggestion and place a semi-circular table against the wall in the generous hallway outside the master bedroom.
"It's a great place to put family photos and mementos to personalize the home," Murrell agreed.
Enter the master bedroom and there's another custom touch you won't see anywhere else — a sliding frosted glass door that runs on rails — evoking an urban loft or a barn door.
"Some owners will have these doors etched" with a custom design, Murrell predicted.
No two bathrooms alike
At One Steamboat Place, every bathroom is a work of art. In fact, you can expect to find a print of a European master oil painting framed over the tub in the master bath. There also is an upholstered chaise, a steam shower and a travertine floor. But another bath has a floor inset of rough black pebbles that provide a foot massage in the shower.
OSP comprises 38 whole ownership condominiums plus units devoted to 176 eighth-shares and a flock of one-twelfth fractionals in the 450,000-square-foot resort that includes a restaurant and even ski school offices for Steamboat Ski Area.
The designers were so devoted to making each condominium home distinct from the other that they felt obligated to travel from Paris to Parma, Italy, for a major antique-buying expedition.
The results of all that shopping have paid off with resort condominiums that delight the eye.
"This is meant to feel warm and family friendly," Burden said while gesturing at the model unit.
Windows upon windows
Trailhead Lodge carries on a flirtation with Steamboat's ranching heritage in the form of local photographer and architect Tim Stone's large warm-tone photographs of horse tack. After all, the interior design team is from The Ranch House.
Stone's detailed close-ups are abstract enough to blend nicely with the colorful area rugs and custom-built upholstered chairs specified by the design team. Owners choose from among four color palettes and fabric selections to suit their taste. The dramatic artisan glass vases and dry arrangements in the sleek bathrooms also speak to the contemporary style of a modern bunkhouse.
Several of the executives from Trailhead developer Resort Ventures West have Intrawest pedigrees, so it's not your imagination, RVW development manager Mariana Ishida acknowledged. The floor plans are not unlike those one might find at Intrawest resorts in Mammoth, Calif., and Whistler/Blackcomb, B.C.
The big difference? The windows are much taller than one would expect to find at those resorts, ensuring dramatic views of the South Valley and Emerald Mountain.
Taken as a group, Steamboat's trio of new signature properties have put Steamboat well on the way to realizing its goal of reclaiming its stature as one of the most contemporary ski villages anywhere.