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Ski Corp. announces improvements

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— The third-floor cafeteria at the Steamboat Ski Area has needed an updated look for a few years, and now BK Corral is going to get it.

The Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. announced $2 million in capital improvements Tuesday, and refurbished public dining areas were high on the list.

"Among senior and mid-level management, the primary focus was on projects that will have an impact on the visuals and aesthetics of the resort experience," Vice President of Marketing Andy Wirth said. "There is a great need to enhance the design and function of the third floor at Thunderhead."

The cafeteria/restaurant will get new furniture and lighting fixtures to replace the 32-year-old globes. But Senior Vice President of Operations Bob Kuusinen said the changes will go deeper.

"We're going to work with an interior designer to make sure we get it right," Kuusinen said. He explained he wants to make certain improvements made this summer and fall will be consistent with plans for future improvements.

Wirth said that like any business, the ski area wants to focus capital improvements on profit centers, where the investment will yield returns. However, ski area management is also sensitive to the fact that almost everyone who spends a ski vacation in Steamboat visits the third-floor restaurant, and it was visually behind the times, Wirth said. Compared to the facilities of competing resorts, BK Corral was no longer attractive.

The ski area has also reaffirmed its commitment to the new generation of skiers and riders in its capital plan for the coming season.

Within a Christmas wish list of more than a dozen funded projects are several meant to enhance the experience at the Mavericks Superpipe in Bashor Bowl.

Mavericks will get a new music system, increased snowmaking capacity to assure a December opening and the use of a new Bombardier snowblower. The snowblower will make it easier to prepare the terrain park for special events as well as improving trail maintenance around the mountain.

The capital improvements will extend to refurbished on-mountain restaurants and back shop improvements like a digital mapping system.

Ski Area President Chris Diamond said this year's budget should be taken as a sign that American Skiing Co. is willing and able to put money back into Steamboat.

"American Skiing Co.'s commitment to reinvest in Steamboat is evident with the $2 million in capital for the upcoming season," Diamond said. "This is the largest on-mountain allocation in three years and will allow significant improvements to many aspects of the ski area."

On-mountain projects for the upcoming season include new and upgraded magic carpet lifts, new grooming technologies and safety equipment. A summary of the capital projects being funded this year include:

Restaurants

BK Corral, Hazie's and Ragnar's: Major improvements to the BK Corral will enhance the third-floor eatery's atmosphere and culinary environment. New lighting, furniture replacement, new refuse and recycling receptacles, sandwich station and new cooking equipment will round out the upgrades for this project. The resort's fine-dining facilities, Hazie's and Ragnar's, will also see improvements with new paint, upgraded culinary equipment in both kitchens, reupholstered sleighs and new carpet in Ragnar's.

Upkeep

Mavericks Music System: With the successful debut of the Mavericks Superpipe last winter, the resort will take its park to the next level with the installation of a music system that will further animate and enhance the energy and experience in this popular area. The ski area touts Mavericks as the longest superpipe in the Rockies.

Beginner Lifts: For those not quite ready for the superpipe, the resort is installing a new magic carpet for beginning snowboarders. This lift will be the focal point of an expanded learning area and provide a more comfortable introduction to the sport. In addition, to the new carpet, the ski area is also nearly doubling the length of the Filly carpet, located in the Preview Area, for never-ever skiers.

Snowmaking: Steamboat's snowmaking system will undergo upgrades that improve water management and increase capacity through a series of new hydrants, hoses, tower gun heads, surface guns and pipe. In addition, increased snowmaking capacity will be added to the terrain park area allowing the superpipe to open in December. With these enhancements, Steamboat's system covers about 3,500 vertical feet and a total of 35 trails accessed by 13 chairlifts.

Bombardier Blower: The new Bombardier snowblower attachment will be instrumental during special events, in the terrain park and for trail maintenance. The new machine will efficiently move snow from the trail edges to the center, reduce the building time for the superpipe and maintain snow surfaces in high-traffic areas.

Digital Mapping: The resort will undertake the first steps in digitally mapping the ski area through 3-D computer imaging. This project will combine the latest in digital topography and photography technology linked to computer integrated systems. The resort will be updating its master plan and the mapping project plays a vital role in laying the groundwork for future projects.

Retail Outlets: Top Shop, at the top of the gondola, and RideSports, the ski area's snowboard shop, will get a new look that encompasses new paint, wallpaper, carpet, fixtures and retail displays.

Base area

Knoll Lot: Lighting will be installed in the Knoll parking lot and the pedestrian corridor, creating a safe and comfortable environment. The Knoll lot is the primary, close-in, free parking facility at the base of the resort, able to accommodate 500 vehicles.

Base Area Landscaping: Trees, shrubs, rocks and other landscaping features will be installed this summer in the Gondola Square area. The irrigation system will be expanded to include areas around Steamboat Ski & Sport, Headwall and the Bear River Bar & Grill. In addition, new lighting and signage is being added throughout Gondola Square.

Steamboat Ski & Sport Patio: Building upon the recent deck remodel at the Bear River Bar, the ski area has added nearly 700 square feet of additional patio space linking Steamboat Ski & Sport to The Bear. The entire patio complex now covers nearly 6,000 square feet and offers access to food & beverage, retail, rental and lodging outlets.

Mount Werner Signage: Mount Werner signage at the base of the ski area will be redesigned to improve communication at key decision points while improving the guest's first impression. Signage at vital intersections of Mount Werner Road and Circle as well as along the way to the base area will be upgraded.

Information technology

Computer Systems: Upgraded computer systems will help guests on their way in almost every guest interaction point at the resort this winter. A Ski Corp. spokesman said guests consistently rank Steamboat against other resorts in the industry in the top tier for overall experience and employee service, 8.96 and 8.97 out of 10, respectively. The new and upgraded systems will increase capacity, convenience and service in the ticket office, F&B, retail, Ski & Snowboard School and Steamboat Central Reservations. Capital improvements in this area include both hardware and software installations and upgrades for these systems.

Digital Editing System: The video satellite uplink and video system will be upgraded to include a new state-of-the-art digital editing system. The new video system will allow greater flexibility and faster turn-around times on video projects while retaining the resort's industry leading capabilities in this area. The ski area's public relations staff uses video to spread favorable impressions about snow conditions.

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