Steamboat Springs Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen told an audience Wednesday that it could be several years before Steamboat Ski Area gets a new $10-million-plus on-mountain restaurant but that a more modest dining expansion should arrive sooner.
“A big on-mountain restaurant costs $10 million, $12 million, $15 million,” Jensen said. “Smaller restaurants and expansions cost $1 million, $2 million, $3 million. Probably the reality is Steamboat will get something small first. I’m hopeful we’ll build something significant in the coming years.”
Jensen was speaking to more than 150 people, including 90 airline company executives and managers, during the 13th annual Airline Summit at The Steamboat Grand. He acknowledged that additional restaurant seating on the slopes is needed at Steamboat.
The group also heard National Ski Areas Association President Michael Berry say that in terms of customer satisfaction, the top two factors in a happy ski vacation are manicured slopes and culinary delights.
“What really matters, it’s food and grooming,” Berry said. “It’s the skiing and the experience as punctuated by the food experience not just on the mountain but in the community.”
Berry said it’s likely that skier visits nationally will be down from last year’s 60-million-plus; however, raw skier visits should not be mistaken for the financial health of ski resorts.
“This mountain (at Steamboat) and its investment in snowmaking is a tribute to the resiliency of ski resorts,” Berry said. “This year, we may be seeing a decline in skier days (nationally). Interestingly enough, our profitability is not declining in lockstep. Here in Colorado, it will be a good year, if not a great year,” for ski area earnings.
Jensen said Intrawest’s annual operating revenue from its core ski resorts (not including minority ownership in Whistler/Blackcomb and Mammoth Mountain, Calif.) was $450 million last year.
Intrawest’s core resorts include Blue Mountain, Ontario; Snowshoe, W.V.; Stratton, Vt.; Tremblant, Quebec; Winter Park; and Steamboat.
The resorts modernized during Intrawest’s acquisition phase have more revenue streams, including lodging, because of the execution of the company’s mountain village strategy, he added.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com