Steamboat Ski Area ranked 14th among North American resorts in SKI Magazine’s 2010-11 reader poll. That’s down from 10th last year. Among the 18 categories in which readers ranked ski areas, Steamboat placed 16th in terrain parks.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Ski Area ranked 14th among North American resorts in SKI Magazine’s 2010-11 reader poll. That’s down from 10th last year. Among the 18 categories in which readers ranked ski areas, Steamboat placed 16th in terrain parks.

Steamboat Ski Area drops from SKI Magazine’s top 10 resorts

Steamboat ranked 14th for this winter in reader poll



SKI Magazine readers ranked Steamboat as the 14th best ski resort in North America.

— Steamboat Ski Area has slipped out of the top 10 in SKI Magazine’s annual reader poll of the top resorts in North America. Steamboat is ranked 14th for the 2010-11 winter.

Deer Valley, Utah, took the top spot for the fourth consecutive year. Vail was second, and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia was third.

There are seven Colorado resorts that ranked higher than Steamboat.

This year’s poll invited readers to rank resorts they’ve visited within the past two years in 18 categories.

The categories range from the variety of terrain to off-slope dining.

The results mark the second time Steamboat has fallen out of the top 10 in the past five years. Steamboat ranked fifth in 2003, slipped to 11th in 2006, popped back into the top 10 in 2007 and 2008, and settled at 10th last year.

If there was an obvious contributor to Steamboat’s fall in the poll it was snowfall. Steamboat counted 261.75 inches in winter 2009-10.

“It was the lowest in some 20 years and that impacted the overall ratings,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond said. “Let’s get some normal Steamboat snow and see what happens.”

If anything puzzled Dia­mond about this year’s poll results it was Steamboat’s fall from the top in terms of its family programs. Ranked No. 1 in that category a year ago, the resort slipped to eighth this year.

“Again, I think snow impacted this,” Diamond said. “Ironically, we made a significant expansion to the Kids’ Vacation Club and changed the snow interface, improved drop-off, etc. But we didn’t get credit for it.”

Steamboat, however, has been receiving credit for some things beyond its control. The last time Steamboat ranked among the top 10, the readers of SKI ranked it 39th for scenery. Somehow, the scenery in the Yampa Valley has improved since then, ranking 25th. Of course, that could be an indication that the poll respondents change from year to year.

“This may speak more to the credibility of the survey,” Diamond said.

As many as 6,000 readers of the magazine have responded to the poll in the past.

The typical reader is in his or her mid- to late 30s. SKI Maga­zine editors said the poll ranks resorts as much on the creature comforts as it does on challenging terrain (Steamboat ranked 30th) and lifts (Steamboat was 14th).

If the demolition of shops, restaurants and night spots in Ski Time Square had a dramatic impact on the skiing public’s perception of Steamboat, it doesn’t seem to be reflected in this year’s poll.

The resort ranked 14th for après ski, down from 11th in 2009 but still higher than in 2007 when its overall ranking was ninth and the après ski rank was 18th.

Diamond predicted the new outdoor dining deck and umbrella bar at Bear River would enhance the après ski experience this coming season.

The construction of new luxury condominiums and a few new restaurants may have kept Steamboat from slipping further in the poll.

The resort’s guest lodging ranked eighth, which was up from ninth in 2009 and 11th in 2008. The dining experience ranked ninth, up from 10th the year before and 14th in 2008.

Diamond said his staff would continue to strive to improve the resort’s service ratings because, unlike the snowfall, it’s a factor Ski Corp. can control. He said the resort fared well in the results of a third-party customer service measurement, Net Promoter, which depends on customer surveys as the basis for building loyalty for companies.

“We set an overall Net Promoter Score record for Steamboat. Service was the one thing we could control (last ski season) given the unusual weather, and the whole team — I’d include the larger Steamboat community, as well — did a great job,” Diamond said.


UbiquiMoots 6 years, 5 months ago

Wake up!
1. No one had good snow last year. 2. The family program is a joke - kids ski free after 5 days - in this economy that doesn't cut it - with exorbitant ticket & pass prices, other areas have flown by steamboat. It should be cut to 3 days for the recreational skiers. Also, as someone who had never-evers visit last year, I realized there are no good green runs either, just cat walks. 3. Look at the top - Steamboat is a better mountain than BC or DV, but it's pretty obvious the average skier wants more of a total experience. Our base area is pathetic - spread out and confusing - stuck in the 70's with sprawl. If our goal is to be world class, there needs to be a comprehensive plan to improve the experience to our guests. We have the mountain, we have the snow, we have the service, It's just not presented in an apealing way.


Kuri 6 years, 5 months ago

Moots is correct in that there is very little good beginner green terrain. Catwalks don't cut it. I have heard this complaint repeatedly from instsructors and others. Apparently trying to teach never-evers on Preview and the lower Christie is not made any easier by the fact that these areas are an egress for skiers of all stripes coming off the rest of the mountain. Learning to ski in a bottle-neck is not the family-friendly, beginner-welcoming scenario Steamboat touts.


1999 6 years, 5 months ago

come on Chris Diamond....the snow was NOT the resaon steamboat dropped. Look around you!

I know it's an easy scapegoat as you can't control the weather.

why don't you go to another resort and see what they offer.


aichempty 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe this will cut down on the crowds.

I observed last year that some of the boys in the red jackets and cowboy hats were just not all that friendly.

We're a long way from I-70, and when you take an average family driving to avoid the cost of flying, that last 90 miles through the countryside doesn't make Steamboat any more attractive when you're planning your trip. If they land in Denver, rent a car a drive up, the extra distance is just one more obstacle to overcome to get back to the airport in the event that it snows.

When you walk around the base area, there's really nothing much to see or do. How many T-shirts does anybody need?

I ordered two Irish Coffees from the bar and took them out to the deck to enjoy with my wife. One of them had two shots of whiskey in it, the other had none. Marijuana is not a problem in Steamboat . . . . .?

This is a nice place to live, but I'm not sure I want to visit.


seeuski 6 years, 5 months ago

We will never be able to compete with many of the other resorts for steep terrain or easy blue green and beginner terrain. We have always made up for it in excellent service and most likely the other resorts have been working on that aspect. Plus the Thunderhead building is in need of major changes like the ratty bathrooms and the climbing of so many stairs to get lunch, that is tough on flatlanders who are spent already as it is. The other resorts will never match our tree skiing and quality of freshies nor will they ever be Steamboat. Attitude from some locals in recent years could also be a factor, gaper day antics etc.


boater1 6 years, 5 months ago

mr diamond:

1 admit the base needs a facelift and commit $ to it. yes the terraces will be nice but the exterrior of the actaull bear river building is downright fugly. lipstick on a pig. next summer redo the exterior! it's the most prominent building at the base and yet the ugliest, can't you see that???

instead of just throwing multi-color paint on the rest of the building (which now is looking ratty) redo the exterior of them. take a hard look at the rotting/rusting concrete support of the whole area. it makes it all look dated and ratty.

maybe the owners of skitime sq. condo will vote to redo the exterior of their building. once again it looks like 70s trash

sure the whole base area should be ripped down and built properly but we all now that is not financially in the cards. the base was bad before but now w/ steamboat 1 next to it it looks even worse not better.

2 work with the downtown area to people entertained apres-ski. admit the base/ski time square is lacking in restaraunts/nightlife and embrace the vibe that has become downtown.

this doesn't mean throw the base/ski-time square biz under the bus, just show the town as a whole/valley as a skiing package


seeuski 6 years, 5 months ago


The Bear River is scheduled and in planning for a major exterior change, the Pilot reported it a while ago. They are replacing the deck as we speak. As far as the private properties you are asking Chris Diamond about, he has no sway over that. The base area is so limited in size that there is nothing more that can be done although it appears that changes are being done to the magic carpets for the KVC which may create more space for the youth and adult beginner areas. Closets and Shadows will not be effected by these changes.


cindy constantine 6 years, 5 months ago

My main concern is how much money is being "sucked out" of Steamboat by Fortress who is putting the bare minimum in improvements on the mountain. How about that Four Points Hut where even the men have to wait in line to pee. Totally unacceptable for the price of the tickets. Until we have a new owner focused on the ski biz, we will continue to sink in the ratings. Vail Assoc is savvy and focused on their ONE business. Steamboat is but one small spoke in the wheel of Fortress : ( I could not be any sadder about the whole scenario since I have been skiing this mountain since the mid-60's. Yes I am that old. We could be so great . . . . . .


trump_suit 6 years, 5 months ago

I see that Aich has reverted to his old "Blame it on the Drugs" mentality.

It's pretty simple equation really. Steamboat has great Terrain and some of the best snow in the world. Those two things have kept people coming back for years in spite of the declining base area.

Take a look at any of our Colorado or Utah competitors and the base area simply is not as nice. You want the top ten, you gotta make some improvements. You want great snow, come to Steamboat and put up with the lack of amenities.


mavis 6 years, 5 months ago

I haven't checked recently but the last time I did it was cheaper to pack up the kids and go to Disneyland for 4 days then it was to ski in Steamboat for 3 days WITHOUT lodging costs.


boater1 6 years, 5 months ago

seuski, i properly described what's hapening at the bear, a new "terrace" deck but the same ugly exterior is still on the building. lipstick on a pig, you get that concept right mrs palin.

and yes i know ski corp does not own the condos. that's why i ref. the owners voting on it.


Joyce Lancaster 6 years, 5 months ago

My family and have been to Steamboat 3x - we have also stayed at Beaver Creek, Telluride, Deer Valley, and Big Sky. Steamboat is our favorite, but we will not be returning. Not a matter of base area, expense, etc. Just too crowded. Because Steamboat is trying to keep up with the Jones, they are losing one of the best things they had to offer - quiet, cowboy town, personalized service, short lift lines and empty mountain. We will most likely return to Telluride (even with their attitude) becuase it is gorgeous and empty. No nightlife, tough to get to, expensive - - no lines.


notalocal 6 years, 5 months ago

we have owned a second home in steamboat for many years---and each year we come less and less--the skiing is great--as is summer---but somehow we just don't feel as welcome---in the beginning, even if you weren't a local, you were treated like one--maybe it is fallout over housing costs, and the feelings by many locals that we "out of towners" have somehow made local housing unaffordable--but we chose steamboat because it wasn't snobbish---in a way it seems like it has become snobbish--if you're not from here we tolerate you----just my observation--take it for what it is worth


dave reynolds 6 years, 5 months ago

spot on familyskier..was blue collar when i moved here but now.its all about $$$..should go back to the roots and focus on the "middle class"..they are less high maintaince and more respectful of employees..which leads to more dollars and a better experience than someone who wants me to s..k h..d t.t and step and fetch..i would be glad to help someone that respects me more than someone who looks down at me


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