As sure as an April snowstorm each year are closings, moves, swaps and openings in the Steamboat business landscape. “It’s not just April, it happens at the end of summer, too,” Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said. “This time, it seems like quite a large number to me.”
Several businesses are coming and going, with the latter outweighing the former. But Barnett is hopeful open spaces will be filled as the economy continues to turn around. “There’s going to be a lot of space open right on Lincoln,” she said. “We just have to keep our fingers crossed.” Among the changes are:
■ Sears, formerly located in Riverside Plaza, will be opening in its new location in Central Park Plaza in mid-May. Its sign already is installed in the new, larger space.
■ The Steamboat Shoe Market is moving from 908 Lincoln Ave. across the street to 907 Lincoln Ave., a change co-owner Linda Petet said is really going to confuse mail carriers.
■ Downtown stores closing include Tallula Boutique & Spa, White Pepper, Blossom, Don Tudor’s Sleeping Giant Gallery, and The Brown Barn Co.
Vail Associates, the precursor to Vail Resorts, reopened Vail Mountain in early June of 1983 or ‘84. Harry Frampton had just finished his first ski season as president of the company, and recalled that the late spring weather turned snowy, just like it has the past couple of weeks. “We had something like four or five feet of snow,” Frampton said. So, with a few people on hand, the company reopened the mountain. Frampton recalled that much of the mountain crew was off in warmer climates, particularly Lake Powell. Larry Lichliter, then the company’s chief operating officer, started making some calls, and, in those days before cell phones, actually got through to several key employees. “Enough came back that we were able to do it,” Frampton said.
Soon enough, there were photos in the national press of skiing in June at Vail.“We got incredible press from it,” Frampton said. Longtime resident Craig Denton wasn’t in town when the mountain reopened that year — in fact, he and his family were in Hawaii. But they heard about skiing in June in Vail, from both friends and in the national press. “Everybody we heard from was excited — and you can’t buy that kind of publicity,” Denton said.
While Vail doesn’t reopen very often, bonus skiing returned just a couple of years later, after George Gillett had bought Vail Associates. “We really enjoyed it — we had a lot of fun,” Gillett said, adding that the bottom line didn’t have much to do with the move at the time — and probably doesn’t now. “It’s not done with a profit motive in mind,” Gillett said. “In fact, it’s expensive as all get-out.”
Hotels in Snowmass Village saw slightly more business in March over last year, thanks largely to a flurry of last-minute bookings made after some significant snowstorms. Snowmass occupancy in March came in at 58.6 percent, a 4.2 percent increase from last year, according to a report by the Mountain Travel Research Program. It didn’t look that way before the month, though.
“We were coming in almost dead flat with last March,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass. March had a long way to go, but a dramatic change in the ski conditions got the phones ringing. March bookings made that same month were up 20 percent over last year, helping the numbers to rise above.
Snowmass hotels saw a strong finish in April with close to 50 percent occupancy the first half of the month, double the rate that Snowmass saw in the same period last year. Most of the visitors were in town for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic the first week of April and the Mountain Travel Symposium the second. “And last year we had Easter in April,” Tomcich said. “That really illustrates the power of those two groups.”
The properties almost sold out during the winter sports clinic and Mountain Travel Symposium, he said. All of the symposium business events were in the Westin Snowmass Conference Center. “That quite honestly took us over the top,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping that momentum continues through the summer season.”
In December, 1963, Park City Mountain Resort opened for skiing as Treasure Mountains Resort. Since this year marks the resort’s 50-year anniversary, the Park City Museum will open an original exhibit, “50 Years of Park City Skiing” in November.
To find items and collect oral history stories about locals and visitors’ experiences at the resort over the past half-decade, the museum, 528 Main St., is hosting a night of show and tell on Thursday, April 25, from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. During the free and casual event, the museum’s staff will get ideas of what to display, said Jenette Purdy, the museum’s director of education.
“We thought it would be a fun event one night where people brought the things they have collected over the years while skiing at PCMR and share them with each other,” Purdy told The Park Record. “The museum, of course, loves objects and artifacts, but we also love stories. They sometimes make things more interesting, and it’s fun to hear about how things were.”
The museum will set up tables where people can lay out their items. “They’ll be able talk with each other about where the items came from, and tell their stories,” Purdy said. “We will record some of the stories if people will allow us.”
The museum hopes the winter exhibit will include an interactive display where museum visitors will be able to climb into a gondola and hear these stories. “We may have to rerecord the stories at a later date, because I’m sure Thursday will be noisy with all the other people who will be in attendance, but we want to get some of that history down,” she said. West Office Exhibition Design, which built the museum’s permanent display, will design “50 Year of Park City Skiing,” Purdy said.
“Right now, we don’t have any set plan to have specific stories and items, but we want to have fun memories we can show,” she said. “As for the objects, we just want to see what people have and then we’ll go from there.”
The Park City construction industry enjoyed a solid month in March, outpacing the figures from February and the previous March, the Park City Building Department said. According to the department, 62 permits were issued worth a little more than $4.1 million combined. The dollar figure climbed sharply from the little less than $1.2 million in permits issued in February and the just more than $1.3 million tallied in the previous March. Through the end of March, the year-to-date total reached to nearly $6 million, up from the $4.9 million through the same period in 2012.
The March numbers are likely encouraging since it is a month when construction crews often seek the permits they need to break ground later in the spring or the early summer. The 2013 dollar figure was roughly triple those from March 2012. The department in March issued one permit for a duplex, valued at a little less than $1.1 million, and one permit for a three-unit multifamily building. The building is valued at $998,271.84. Alterations and additions, though, continued to push up the figures. The Building Department said it issued 45 permits for alterations and additions, valued at a just more than $2 million combined. Most of the permits, as well as the dollar value, were generated from residential properties. Alterations and additions have had an outsized impact on the numbers since the recession as owners chose to work on their existing properties instead of building new ones. Those sorts of permits, though, are typically not as valuable as ones issued for new projects.
Mike Holm would be one of the Park City businesspeople most impacted should City Hall institute a ban on plastic bags. The owner of The Market at Park City said in an interview this week a ban would add expenses to his operations, annoy some customers and not accomplish much for the environment. He is unsure whether he would support or oppose such a ban but said he would back the decision the local government makes.
The Market at Park City is almost certainly one of the top users of plastic bags in Park City, and his comments come as City Hall and the not-for-profit Recycle Utah continue to consider ideas. A law has not been proposed, but it seems that one could be crafted in the coming months. Holm said the grocery store uses both paper and plastic bags. Plastic bags are far more popular with customers, he said, describing them as easier to handle when they are full of groceries and less bulky than paper bags.
In a month during the ski season, The Market at Park City might distribute 80,000 bags to customers. Of those, fewer than 1,000 might be made of paper, he said. The grocery store pays one-half of one cent for a plastic bag while it costs five to seven cents for each paper bag, according to Holm. The Market at Park City, meanwhile, provides a five-cent credit per bag if someone brings their own bags to use.
The White River National Forest is ready to move forward with the sales process for a portion of its Aspen West End property, in order to finance a redevelopment of the aging visitor center at the S-curves.
Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams published a notice last week approving the conveyance of an acre at the northwest corner of the 3-acre property. The for-sale portion would be split into five lots of about 6,000 square feet, each suitable for single-family homes. “I’m finally in the real estate business,” Fitzwilliams joked.
The notice, published April 11, kicks off a 45-day period during which the Forest Service’s decision to sell the property can be appealed to officials in Washington D.C. If no appeal is filed, Fitzwilliams said he hopes the marketing and sale of the property, conducted through the Government Services Administration, will go forward this summer. A Forest Service press release issued Thursday said the Aspen property is the No. 1 priority for the White River National Forest’s conveyance program.
The Forest Service hasn’t settled on the method it will use to sell the property, Fitzwilliams said, although an online or live auction is being considered. He said White River staff is looking to other instances where the Forest Service has sold property in high-end real estate markets, such as Sedona, Ariz., and the Lake Tahoe region in California and Nevada, for ideas.
Depending on the location, totals from the April 15-17 storm dropped close over two and a half feet snow on various parts of Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Weather recorder John Gulliksen reported close to 28 inches of snow from his location in Prospect Mountain and the Bear Lake area in Rocky Mountain National Park was reporting 36 inches of new snow as of Wednesday morning with more falling. Cold temperatures accompanied the snow, with thermometers dropping to single digits Thursday morning.
The snow in Rocky Mountain National Park enhanced backcountry snowshoe and cross country skiing opportunities. “Backcountry ski conditions and snowshoe conditions are excellent,” said Rocky Mountain National Park public information officer Kyle Patterson. The heavy snows have also enhanced the avalanche danger.
Park officials report the avalanche danger is high on northwest through north to southeast aspects near and above treeline. The danger is considerable in other locations. Spring storm such as the one that slammed northern Colorado this week are not uncommon. Late-season storms like the most recent are “unusual, but not extraordinary,” said Mike Baker, meteorologist with the Nation Weather Service based in Boulder. “Storms tend to move slower this time of year, so they have time to intensify.”
When it comes to winter thrills, Colorado ski resorts offer nearly everything snow lovers crave. But just because skis and boards have been mothballed for the summer doesn’t eliminate reasons for visiting slope-side resorts.
Here are 33 summer adventures to be found around Colorado’s top ski communities. Like the trails and terrain, we’ve categorized activities by difficulty—family-friendly easy greens, more-challenging intermediate blues and adrenaline-infused advanced black-diamonds. Pick a pursuit and have some fun.