Skiers with SUVs may have to park it outside

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— Try to fit your new Chevy Suburban into the entrance to the new Steamboat Grand's indoor parking garage and you could be picking your ski rack off the ground. The 6-foot-8-inch clearance, which is marked as 6-foot-6-inches to err on the side of caution, cannot fit some larger cars with ski racks.
The Grand, however, is prepared for the oversized vehicles that will not fit in its garage. It has 60 parking spaces set aside in the Ski Time Square parking structure, which, like the Grand, is owned by American Skiing Co. The structure was leased to the city for public parking on an hourly basis, but the Grand's customers are issued permits to park there, said City Public Works Director Jim Weber. Although the parking structure does not have spaces specifically designated for the Grand's customers, the lot usually has enough open spaces to make it a viable parking option, Weber said.
"They should not have a problem parking," Weber said. "Normal rules of thumb and past experience show there will always be a turnover."
The hotel offers valet parking for cars that need to be parked in the structure, which sits across Mount Werner Circle from the Grand.
"The fact that we've got another 60-odd spaces for overflow if necessary, it really doesn't present any challenge for us," said Steamboat Grand General Manager Terry Murphy.
Murphy said the hotel has not had any accidents with the low clearance garage as of yet and doesn't expect it to be a problem. The bellhop is in charge of sizing up each vehicle and directing it to the appropriate garage.
The low clearance, Murphy added, was something the hotel's management had considered quite extensively when the garage had initially been built.
"We studied the heights of every vehicle when we looked at this garage," he said. "There is not an SUV that will not fit under there. It's just a matter of how big of a ski rack and what kind of a rack they have on the roof."
The 80-inch clearance garage entrance will fit most large SUVs, but try to take a Ford Excursion through the entrance and you could encounter some difficulties.
The Excursion, said Ben Wilson of Steamboat Motors, is 80.2 inches high. Other oversized vehicles like the Suburban, a 74-inch SUV, will fit under the garage entrance as long as they don't have a rack.
But, because the Grand is advertised as a skiing-friendly establishment, the management team did need to take into account the garage's ability to fit ski racks and made sure that owners of larger automobiles have the option to park in the Ski Time Square structure, Murphy said.

To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@amigo.net

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