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Time Suck to Save a Buck: Why it Pays to Spend More on Ski Lodging

27th February 2019 | Heather B. Fried

News Regions: Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Resorts in this article: Steamboat

Time Suck to Save a Buck: Why it Pays to Spend More on Ski Lodging - ©Moving Mountains

When it comes to staying at the base of Steamboat for a true ski-in experience, you’ll be hard pressed to do it up better than One Steamboat Place.

Copyright: Moving Mountains

Given all expenses inherent to the sport of skiing—season pass/lift ticket, lessons, gear, $15 slices of pizza, and so on—it can be tempting to scrimp on accommodations for that quick Presidents’ weekend getaway or Spring Break ski trip. Justified away with perfectly reasonable statements like “who cares where we stay, we won’t be spending any time there anyway?” destination ski trippers may tend to deny themselves the lure of luxury lodging. 

But there’s another expenditure in the mix. Depending on where you live and ski, you may be spending more hours regularly commuting to/from the mountain in icy gridlock than actually skiing it (I’m looking at you, Colorado). Multiply that exponentially for the time involved in a destination ski vacation, be it by air or car. Then there’s the layering, booting up, shuttling and schlepping to the mountain, ticket line, lift line, bathroom line, lunch line… you get the idea. Point is, when it comes to a timeline you can control—the amount spent looking, booking and stressing about where you’re going to stay—consider this question:  

Would you Rather... Save Time (& Stress) or Save Money?

Over the years, I became known to friends and family as the designated ski vacation lodging booker. I loved digging into listings, reading and dreaming about amenities, and finding the best within the budget considering number of people, nights and location preferences. Somewhere along the way, this volunteer title of mine went from part of the fun to part-time grunt work as it became increasingly challenging to balance requests against parameters, trust the quality or customer service behind what was booked, and simply find accommodations in general given Colorado's crowds.

It's often said that anticipation leading up to a trip is the best part, but not when it's spent in back and forth exchanges with customer service or property managers about parking, pets, availability, minimum night requirements, fees, all before arriving and paying the ultimate price: more time away from enjoying your vacation. Steamboat Springs, Colorado's luxury property manager Moving Mountains gets that it’s not just about treating yourself, it’s about the ease of experience—from the convenience of booking to the confidence that wherever you do land will be even better than the gallery of professional photos (no fisheye fantasies being planted here). Because even if you’re not planning to spend any time in the place, isn’t nice to stay somewhere you don’t have to dread going back to? 

If you believe that time is money and you value yours at all, learn from our series of less than ideal lodging experiences, booking blunders, and common mishaps, all of which are true stories from Steamboat and other Colorado mountain towns since our last Moving Mountains experience spoiled us silly. 

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While it's generally safe to assume that fancier accommodations tend to come with a matching level of customer service and amenities to remedy the worst time woes, it's true that spending more money doesn't always equate to less hair pulling before and during your stay. One of the best things about Moving Mountains is that quality doesn't always mean more money, either. There are layers to the luxuriousness, and you can turn the dial all the way up to max lavish in a ski in/ski out catered chalet with a manager who takes care of your every need and whim, pick and choose à la carte options like grocery delivery, or opt to simply stay in an upscale property with a per person/per night cost that’s not just accessible but comparable to many lower-quality options out there, especially with bigger groups in tow. 

Next-Level Luxury Lodging in Steamboat

When you find yourself at the opposite end of the time-suck spectrum, you're gaining back a lot more than minutes during a ski trip that's memorable in all the best ways.
 

Details that Define Experience 

If your sights are set on staying at the base of Steamboat for a true ski-in experience, you’ll be hard pressed to do it up better than One Steamboat Place. Situated in Gondola Square just steps from your ride up the mountain, the choice residences within One Steamboat are available exclusively to property owners and through Moving Mountains, who manages about half the properties—one bedrooms to penthouses. Technically, you can book via Moving Mountains by way of VRBO or Airbnb, but we recommend resisting that temptation and going straight to the source to cash in on specials and avoid extra fees (a quick search to compare the three yielded differences of $2,000 to almost $4,500 more than booking through MM directly, so it’s time well spent to do the bit of homework). 

Ski valet service is among the perks that make all the difference.  - © Heather B. Fried

Ski valet service is among the perks that make all the difference.

Copyright: Heather B. Fried

The only thing better than skis at the ready (and tuned by request) for the grabbing as you enter Gondola Square is a ski-up valet from Black Tie Ski Rentals who bounds up the stairs with a smile and plucks your skis right off the snow before bidding you a good evening. After a quick trip to the locker room with a bespoke storage space and a wall of warmers just for your ski boots, it’s time to shed gear, grab your all-access pass and head over to One Steamboat’s après ski for free wine, beer and eats daily staring at 3 p.m. (these specialty lanyards also get you entry to continental breakfast, the Motion Studio gym with complimentary yoga classes, plus other perks).    

All-access pass to après ski, gym with free yoga and more.  - © Heather B. Fried

All-access pass to après ski, gym with free yoga and more.

Copyright: Heather B. Fried
To keep that warm, buzzy feeling going, make your way into a robe and down to the second floor where three steamy, spacious hot tubs and a pool will greet you, equipped with towels and cups for that second round of après beverages. Melt into the juuuuuust-right tub waters or wake up with a brisk dip in the pool. With the snow lightly falling all around, sore muscles will be transformed into powder seeking machines, reloaded and ready to fire on the next day’s skiing adventure. 

Happy Hour at One Steamboat Place.  - © Joan Danver

Happy Hour at One Steamboat Place.

Copyright: Joan Danver

To fuel that endeavor, a smorgasbord of options is at your disposal. For those who prefer to dine in, a Moving Mountains private chef can be arranged to do all of the prepping, cooking, serving, dishes and cleanup while you kick back by the fire and reminisce about the best runs of the day. Or, if so inspired by the top of the line kitchen setup (ours had Viking appliances), you can try your gourmet hand after requesting a full fridge stocked with all the necessary ingredients. Around the base area within walking distance are several restaurants that can sate a range of cravings and tastes, from the Truffle Pig’s casual fine dining to pizza at Slopeside Grill just a short walk away. Climb aboard the One Steamboat shuttle for the short drive into town to open up the entire selection of great restaurant choices in Steamboat. 

Cooking isn't necessary when you're staying with Moving Mountains, but it is an experience with top of the line appliances.  - © Joan Danver

Cooking isn't necessary when you're staying with Moving Mountains, but it is an experience with top of the line appliances.

Copyright: Joan Danver

Once the valet parks your car and whisks your bags and skis to their respective locations, you never have to worry about driving, navigating and parking again until the One Steamboat staff packs everything back into your vehicle. Be that because you never (want or have to) leave the mountain area as you revel in the location privileges or you let someone else do the driving, going careless and carefree is definitely high on our list of time-savvy conveniences. And even if you opt for another Moving Mountains property outside of One Steamboat Place, the on-demand shuttle has got your every commute covered. 

During our stay over WinterWonderGrass weekend, our group was especially impressed with the sheer size of our Trickle Creek dwelling. The four-bedroom/four-bathroom suite takes up an entire expanse of hallway, virtually eliminating concerns of neighbor noise (whether it’s yours or theirs). Ski tripping with a group that’s on the larger side can mean a lot of coordination of schedules and activities, but with the space to spread out or gather and the ease of checking in, transportation, and coming/going between mountain, meals and music festival, each person or couple can dial in their ideal ski vacation, sans planning or compromise. 

WinterWonderGrass, day 2, in full swing at Steamboat  - © Eric Schmidt

WinterWonderGrass, day 2, in full swing at Steamboat

Copyright: Eric Schmidt

Whatever that perfectly curated experience looks like for you, be sure to carve out some time to decompress in the well-appointed master bathroom. Ours featured a steam shower, choice of rain or high-pressure head, and a Jacuzzi tub. For even more of that private, sanctuary vibe, One Steamboat features a full-service, in-house spa where guests can treat themselves to any number of nail and skincare services, body or facial treatments, specialty massage (including warm stones and cupping), waxing, you name it. Not to be outdone, the rest of the gang will be fine to keep themselves entertained with Wii, pool, ping-pong and shuffleboard in the game room. Be sure to go though the Moving Mountains-provided reading materials so you’re up on the complete set of amenities, services and other useful details for your stay.  

WinterWonderGrass Weekend in Steamboat

Moving Mountains on the Move 

Now in the midst of its 21st winter bringing the European chalet experience to the U.S., Moving Mountains recently announced plans to expand operations over to Vail and Beaver Creek. An office and GM are already established there, and the company is currently vetting and negotiating a new portfolio of properties. In the process of onboarding homes and residences, tangibly defining what luxury looks like is no easy task. Moving Mountain’s General Manager in Steamboat, Gardner Flanigan, paints a portrait through a variety of superlatives: “It’s walking in and taking your breath away. It’s a wow factor. High-end furnishings. Things like decks with an incredible view, private hot tubs, rooms with not only king sized beds, but a lot of our homes have split kings where you can split it so you get back to the point of having a larger group and the economy of scale of renting one of these residences.” 

Be sure to carve out some time to decompress in the well-appointed Moving Mountains' master bathrooms.   - © Moving Mountains

Be sure to carve out some time to decompress in the well-appointed Moving Mountains' master bathrooms.

Copyright: Moving Mountains

What it isn’t? “It won’t be a condo complex,” Flanigan says of their property standards. “We don’t like this term unit.” When you’re in the business of sourcing exceptional mountain homes and residences, not every property will make the cut. And it takes more than just scoring off the charts in one area. “I remember walking into one residence with this incredible view of the mountain, but it was still in the 80s and really needed to be brought to a modern mountain look and feel,” reports Flanigan, who adds that some homeowners have even updated their furniture, paint, artwork, etc. in order to qualify. 

Moving Mountains will bring that same sensibility of one quality residence at a time with it in the move over to Eagle County, where they’re confident the concept will resonate in the face of some stiff luxury competition. Standout lodging aside, the opportunity is in the ability to be "delivering wow in the little things that mean so much," according to Gardner, with one anecdote after another involving employees from shuttle drivers and sales managers to the maintenance crew elevating the guest experience. "This poor kid this week, he broke his leg, and then he got the flu the next day. Well we heard about it, and we went over with this gift basket with matchbox cars and things like that. So I think that’s the other benefit as you’re competing against these really big companies, the Wyndhams of the world, we’re able to give this personal service that they just simply can’t. They don’t have the infrastructure on the ground in these resorts.” 

Gallery

One Steamboat Place in Gondola Square, Steamboat - © Moving Mountains
One Steamboat happy hour - © Joan Danver
One Steamboat amenities - © Joan Danver
Steamboat High Noon - © Joan Danver

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