Steamboat Springs Steamboat Ski Area will launch an ambitious $5 million-plus construction project at 9,700 feet almost as soon as the ski lifts close for the season next month.
The final day of the ski season is April 14, and the ski area will set out to replace the modest Four Points Hut the next day as it follows through on plans to build the 13,000-square-foot Four Points Lodge with room for 200 indoor diners in time for Christmas.
“The task right now is to figure out how we’ll get it done. We’ll get it done,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Diamond said.
The site of the new restaurant originally was a ski patrol shack at the upper terminus of the Four Points chairlift in 1967. By 1992, it was converted to the Four Points Hut, offering premade food items with limited seating and restrooms within its 1,000 square feet. But it hasn’t been adequate to meet the needs of Steamboat skiers for a decade or longer.
Ski area spokesman Mike Lane said the Four Points Hut will close for the season April 7 to allow fixtures to be removed for demolition beginning April 15. Kohler Designs worked with Ski Corp. on the design of the new building, and Calcon Constructors, with offices in Steamboat, is the general contractor.
Diamond said Thursday afternoon that the scope of the new lodge has grown significantly throughout the past several years from a building that could accommodate 80 restaurant seats at an estimated cost of $1.5 million to a larger $3.5 million building that almost went forward in 2012, to today’s plan that will afford expanded restrooms and a retail store on a basement level. In addition to expanded dining room seating on the upper main level, there will be a 30-person indoor bar with views of the powder tracks on Storm Peak.
The exterior of the new building will look distinctly different from the upper Steamboat gondola terminal and Rendezvous Saddle, using native stone and locally reclaimed wood where possible, Diamond said. The ski area even has some vintage barn wood left from a garage shed that once stood near the Butterfly Barn adjacent to the Meadows Parking Lot.
The Four Points Lodge will feature indoor and outdoor gas fireplaces, timber railings on the outdoor deck and a range of sustainable qualities, including dark sky standards outdoor lighting, dishes and silverware that eliminate the need for recycling paper and plastics, low-energy insulated windows and a compostable platform for leftover food items.
The primary focus of the food service will be an upscale food court emphasizing pasta dishes and fresh salads using local ingredients, Diamond said. Eventually, Ski Corp.'s culinary team plans to open fine dining service at Four Points in the evenings.
“The ease of finding a seat for lunch will significantly improve across the resort with this addition,” Steamboat Vice President of Resort Services James Snyder was quoted saying in a news release.
Low-snow winter paid unexpected dividends
Diamond said the final plan that will go forward this construction season was the result of some serendipity.
“It started 2 1/2 years ago when the only thing we were permitted under the master plan (with the U.S. Forest Service) was 40 indoor seats at Four Points and another 40 seats at Sunshine" Peak, Diamond said. "The Forest Service agreed we could move those seats around, so we could build 80 seats at Four Points in the updated plan. We needed more seats, but we felt it was a significant enough issue that we started on the planning on that Version 1, living with the old Forest Service plan and a $1.5 million budget.”
As Ski Corp. and the Forest Service worked to amend the master plan, ski area officials continued to ask for more seating. Ultimately, the Forest Service agreed.
In December 2011, the ski area was very close to going to final design documents when the reality of the snow drought of 2011-12 set in.
“In early January, we just pulled the plug,” Diamond said. “The whole ski industry was having a bad winter.”
Intrawest CEO “Bill (Jensen) said, ‘Take your time, make sure you’re doing the right thing. Don’t come back to me in a couple of years and tell me you need 20 more seats,’” Diamond recalled.
That led to a rethinking of the project.
“It was one of those aha moments,” Diamond said. “I have to give credit to (Vice President of Operations) Doug Allen. We had assumed we couldn’t do much in the basement of the Four Points shack. But Doug said, ‘We have to use it.’”
As a result, the plans for the building went from a single story to a two-level project with the new restrooms downstairs.
“It opened up a huge amount of space on the main floor,” Diamond said. “What a difference a year makes. (Intrawest) refinanced, we’ve had a good year and the economy continues to strengthen.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com