Denver Post (7.1.17)

Last week, while visitors were clamoring over Steamboat Spring’s Old West-styled downtown and its pretty outdoor cafes along the Yampa River, veteran broker Kerry Shea was doing a final walk-thru of a new kind of resort single-family model you can tour this weekend — never seen before. Flat Tops at Wildhorse Meadows’ resort homes, at the base of the ski mountain’s Wildhorse gondola, are designed for a new generation of resort buyers wanting more efficiency, better functionality, lower maintenance and prominent spaces for indoor/outdoor living.

That includes during summer. “We’re seeing a trend of homeowners wanting to spend more time in Steamboat — months instead of weeks,” said Shea, owner of Ascent Real Estate, exclusive agents for Flat Tops. “They want extended summer stays along with the ski season.”

Shea’s company has sold Steamboat resort projects for more than 10 years, while he’s watched the changing profile of resort homebuyers here. Shea says resorts like Aspen and Vail were quicker to come back from the 2009 downturn that gutted the ski market across the nation. Steamboat was slower and prices have stayed lower — but suddenly, that market has picked up.

The turnaround now is spurred by the $1.7 billion purchase of the ski resort as part of the Intrawest family of resorts, by Aspen Skiing Co./KSL Capital Partners. “The value proposition here has always been great, but the attraction is even stronger now,” Shea adds — pointing to the restaurant and shopping scene maturing downtown, and to Steamboat’s continued reputation for being the top-rated family ski resort in North America.

Shea (he’s already taken three sales of these homes before the July 1 model opening) says buyers today are wanting smaller resort homes with more efficient design features and functionality than what they were buying a decade ago. “They don’t want large trophy homes and the cost and upkeep that goes along with it,” he adds.

To that point, you’ll see a model that’s more of a mountain version of new-urban homes in Denver than old chalet-styled ski homes —single family, but sleeker, more contemporary and lower-maintenance. Even in their base configuration these deliver a spacious 1,759 square feet with two bedrooms — and that can be scaled up with a daylit walkout finish to more than 3,200 square feet — five bedrooms, loads of space for cousins and kids’ bunkrooms.

All have indoor/outdoor spaces like you’ve never seen before and that Denver builders should come see — starting with a blended kitchen/Great Room that can be thrown wide-open to a big deck; not just cascading patio doors, but along a kitchen bar that opens to outdoor seating. There are decks on all levels — including in the master, and a rooftop deck that can take a hot tub.

Shea’s three sales — half of the six sites released from Flat Tops’ 21 at Wildhorse Meadows — span a wide range of options and upgrades, including one buyer adding additional bedrooms, another maxing the potential for basement finish, along with an upgraded interior and a choice site that has a view of the project’s namesake Flat Tops Wilderness 40 miles south. You’ll see how close this is to the ski gondola and to a pool, fitness center and three grotto-style hot tubs at Trailhead Lodge — part of the package. The golf, the river fishing, hiking, summer pro-rodeo and Strings Music Festival are all very accessible.

First homes will deliver next summer. If this is your first trip to Steamboat (under three hours) take the super-scenic route on Highway 9 along the resplendent Gore Range: Head west on I-70 55 miles to Silverthorne, exit north on Highway 9, 37 miles to Kremmling; turn left on U.S. 40 and continue 48 miles to the Mount Werner exit. Head north a half mile to Pine Grove Road, turn right one long block to Bangtail, and follow the signs.