By: Kimmen00

After reading last year’s report about skiing in Colorado, we pondered on the idea of going there for our February holiday in 2019. After doing some research, we decided upon the Steamboat, with a hotel + lift pass + ski hire etc. package, which we booked in October. Shortly after we also booked our flight with 2 St. 2-4-1.

This article reports on the flight, and certainly the skiing resort Steamboat as well as other available activities. Enjoy!.

Arlanda T5 Gold 

We got up early as our taxi arrived at 06.45. There were a lot of people at the SAS desks, due to the holiday season, many families with children were travelling and there were lots of ski bags. However, there was only a short queue for the business check in and it didn’t take long to get through security, before we headed towards T5 Gold for breakfast.

The Gold lounge was FULL of families with children, but strangely enough not noisy. Today, the breakfast was sour milk, yogurt, milk, cereals, various breads with a range of toppings (cheese, liver pate, jam, paprika slices, ham) as well as porridge. I think the breakfast was quite ok. The only thing I missed was the cottage cheese, which is no longer available, for some reason. We were starving and gobbled up our breakfast just before it was time to go to the flight at 0930 a.m.

Arlanda – Frankfurt SK935
Today we got to fly the little-piggy, 737-600. In Europe, Plus merely means, as most of us know, to sit in the front of the plane and get some boxed food. Same squashed seats as the rest of the plane. It was basically a full flight, but luckily I got an empty middle seat next to me (seat block? Usually never get it ..).The flight down to Frankfurt was fast and smooth. The children listened to books and played games. The serving of the adult box was really good; calf with carrots, potatoes and apple pieces (with a micelle) and the kids meal was penne pasta with sliced chicken breast. The cabin crew was quite OK, efficient service and did their job.

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Frankfurt Senator Lounge Z50 Non-Schengen
We had a 2 hour stopover in FRA. However, one must get through passport control on the Z pier. I was hoping our flight would depart from the B pier so we could visit Air Canada’s lounge, which we all like. Instead, we settled for the air lounge in Z pier. The passport control was very quick and smooth, hardly any people and we arrived at the lounge 30 min after landing. The lounge is located by Z50 and has an almost identical layout to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge at A50, which is located one floor down. However, this lounge is much larger as it has a spacious relaxation area that extends into the lounge. There was hardly any people in the lounge, just a bit busy at the food counter.

The food counter had a manned desk with vegetarian kebabs cut into slices. There was curry chicken with rice, other chicken with rice, tomato and minestrone soup. There was also pretzels with mustard and a good salad buffet. For dessert there was apple strudel with custard (cruel!) and vanilla panna cotta. To the children’s happiness, there was a large set of candy available; Haribomix, English liquorice confectionery, wine gum, small lollipops and “Easter eggs”.

For the adults, the coffee shop was really good, two whites and two reds, sparkling wine and an excellent selection of tasty treats. Several kinds of Bombay gin, single malt, cognac, baileys, vodka etc. They had Weissbier on tap and at the moment they advertised Leffe, so they had Leffe Blond and Leffe Dunkel on bottle in an ice bucket. An hour later it was time to board the flight to Denver.

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Frankfurt – Denver LH446
According to our travel information, we would fly with a 747-400 where we had chosen seats 82A and C and 83A and C. Now it turned out that there was a new 787-8i that would take us over the Atlantic (which the Captain proudly commented). The flight had Lufthansa First and it looked full when we peeked at the boarding (located at the front of the plane).We had our seats upstairs and the kids thought it was cool with stairs inside the plane. It was completely full in C area, mostly lonely Germans in suits.

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Our seats were really good. Seat 83 is located in front of CC’s serving area, so there are no seats behind you. Our FA, who was responsible for row 81-83 was super nice, greeted us by last name and served some Champagne very swiftly. The Amenity kit was a small leather case (like a large sunglass case). They were available in different colours although with the same content: toothbrush, toothpaste, mints, sleeping mask, socks and skin lotion. Nothing fancy, but we really liked the “bag”, which is useful for other things, like sunglasses etc.
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The children received a rather large, square bag in black leather, which they appreciated, full of various things: notepads, socks, pens, drawing blocks, deck of cards, toothbrush + toothpaste, inflatable airplane, ball, lip balm, sleeping mask, chocolate and Lufthansa candy. It was probably the best “kids amenity” I’ve seen in a long time. Turkish Airline had a similar one where they filled a whole backpack with things. Lufthansa beat both Asian, Singapore and Austrians. When our daughter had the bag on her arm, walking around in the plane, the hostesses commented: “Oh, it looks so good, just like a Lagerfeld-purse”.


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I thought the hardware was really high class. The chairs are comfortable and good, angled inwards, facing each other. In addition, there are plenty of storage space by the windows where you can place your shoes etc. The IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) was quick and responsive with touch function on a 15-inch screen with over 200 films and loads of TV series, showing the full seasons. SAS has a lot to learn here!
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After take-off, the service started. Our FA was really good, quick and friendly. She was running around, serving drinks before lunch, fixing and sorting. We were served carpaccio for starters and salmon for main course. Both dishes were really tasty, but the salmon was superb! I choose a cheese platter with port wine for dessert. During the meal, our FA refilled the wine several times, the German Riesling was very good. The children had “kids-meal” and first they were served a large tray with chicken wrap, salad, chocolate mousse and snacks. Once their plates were empty, and the kids were pretty full, the FA served the main dish; a giant plate filled with gnocchi and tomato sauce.

It was a pleasant trip to Denver, a pretty calm flight and the 747 engine was very quiet. We all managed to sleep a few hours to prevent jet lag.1h45 min before landing, there was a second service which consisted of Cesar salad and coconut soup. It was quite OK but nothing spectacular.


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On the whole, I thought the flight was great. I think Lufthansa often gets (undeserved) feedback on this forum. Certainly their service and food is not in class with Singapore, Asiana or ANA, but nevertheless this flight was much better than any business flight I have had with SAS in terms of service feeling, speed, etc. The flight attendants set up snacks, sorted the kids, filled up our glass after a few seconds and above all: no SAS sarcasm or contortions. In terms of hardware, they easily surpass SAS.

Denver – Embassy Suites
It wasn’t an overly smooth tour of Denver’s airport. Firstly there was a long queue to take a photo at the machines, and then an even longer queue to get our passports stamped. Even at Hertz there was a crowd. It took us almost two hours to pass all the checks and get our rental car.

We had booked Embassy Suites near the airport. They had an Evening Reception with snack + drink so we dropped our stuff in the room and went down to get some food. There was nachos, vegetables and various dips. We also ordered a kids pizza as well as mac and cheese for the kids, who were really hungry. The was a free bar with a number of different beers on tap, two white and two red wines, in addition to various spirits. After dinner, the children used the last of their energy for a swim in the pool before it was time for bed. The rooms were spacious (2 rooms) and had two queen beds. A fairly ordinary US hotel in the standard class.

To Steamboat 

The breakfast at ES was a classic American full breakfast. You could order omelettes, fried eggs, pancakes etc in the kitchen and then there was milk, yogurt, cereals, bread, toppings, buns, cakes etc. Everyone was really full before we headed towards Steamboat.

Steamboat is around 3.5 hours from Denver (about 20 miles) and the journey goes through dramatic scenery. We were prepared that the weather and driving conditions could quickly change. Fortunately, the roads were mostly busy and fully gritted, so we had no problems. The road took us through Colorado’s mountains with a barren, wintry landscape with one ranch after the other. In the gardens, there were cows, horses and buffalos. This landscape was really spectacular, and it must be very beautiful here in the summer with greenery and mountain lakes. We stopped at a Walmart to shop before we reached Steamboat and later on, we passed by “Outlets at Silverthorne”. The outlet stores in Silverthorne we could have easily skipped, not much to shop for. 

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In the early afternoon we arrived in Steamboat, where we choose our rental skis and checked in to our apartment hotel Storm Meadows East. We had previously received the lift passes by mail.

Storm Meadows East

The property is owned by Mountain Resorts which have several apartment hotel in the area. Some lay at the hillside, further away from the ski area. We chose this apartment hotel as it was a “genuine ski-in ski-out”. When you exit at the back of the hotel, go down a few stairs, you can put on your skis and slide down to the lift. It was amazing!.

 

We had a one bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen with breakfast bar; stove, microwave, oven, so here you can eat both breakfast and lunch. There was a table + four chairs in the living room. The standard was pretty much like a regular Holiday Inn. Decorated in “mountain style” with lots of wood, darker colours and woodwork. We also had a balcony with afternoon sun. There were ski lockers outside the rooms and a washer/dryer at the entrance. A king size bed and a sofa bed for the kids.
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There was a lot of snow, around 2.5 m deep and it was even snowing during the day.

Steamboat Ski Area:

Steamboat is America’s second largest ski resort with 169 slopes. The tallest peak is 3244 meters above sea level. Every year there is a snow fall of just over 10 meters, making it the snowiest ski resort in Colorado. Steamboat is divided into a number of different areas and I will quickly describe them below:


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Gondola Square – Thunderhead
This is the main area of Steamboat and from here leaves the Steamboat Gondola, a gondola lift with seating for 8 people per gondola. In 2019, this will be replaced by new larger gondolas for 12 people. Today the lift capacity for the gondola was 34,000 per/h so that will be ~ a 50% increase in capacity. Down by the square there were beginner areas, roller coaster etc and acceleration chair lift leading up the hill. With the Gondola you can more or less get to most parts of the slopes, or you arrive at another lift that will lead you to wherever you want. Thunderhead is the top where the gondola ends and the area consists of about 40 slopes and 4 chair lifts in addition to the Gondola. Mixed green-black slopes. The first few days it was VERY crowded in the queue for the Gondola. There was a Bluegrass western festival on Sat-Sun, which meant there was a lot of people in the area and all hotels were fully booked However, it was mainly a queue for the Gondola, once you got up, people disappeared in different directions due to the size of the resort. There was hardly any queue at all for the rest of the week. There was not much people around, not even in the gondola. Often we were completely alone in the large, wide, well-prepped slopes.
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Sunshine Peak (3170 m ).
This whole area was huge and consisted of 5 chair lifts and many slopes (~ 30). The eastern part of the area had mainly green slopes, which meant that there were lots of beginners in this part of the area. The western parts were much steeper, some felt almost as steep as the Wall (in Hundfjället), with the difference that it was much SOFTER on the ground. There were only a slight queue at the Sunshine Express, while for the other lifts you could just ski straight in.

 

 

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Sunshine Peak (3170 m ).
This whole area was huge and consisted of 5 chair lifts and many slopes (~ 30). The eastern part of the area had mainly green slopes, which meant that there were lots of beginners in this part of the area. The western parts were much steeper, some felt almost as steep as the Wall (in Hundfjället), with the difference that it was much SOFTER on the ground. There were only a slight queue at the Sunshine Express, while for the other lifts you could just ski straight in.
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Morningside Park
Morningside Park was on the other side of the mountain, which was basically a gigantic free-riding area that eventually ended at a 3-chair lift going up to the top. According to the slope map, there are ~ 10 slopes there but you ski anywhere among the trees. It was absolutely wonderful the first day due to the snow fall! Morningside was a favourite we visited a few hours every day.

 

 

 

Mt Werner (3221m)
You could ski to this area from Morningside, through steep slopes in the forest until you got further down the slopes and headed towards Pony Express. Pony Express had basically only black slopes, around 20 of them that were very different, ranging from steep to narrow slopes, buckelpiste, forest slopes etc. A really fun area!


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Impressions from Steamboat
I thought Steamboat’s slopes and snow were among the best I have experienced. We were incredibly impressed by the soft snow and the really long slopes. I have been skiing all my life, mainly in Sweden (at most facilities) and Norway but also in the Alps (Val Thorens, Val d’Isere, Chamonix etc). Admittedly, Val Thorens is very high on my favourites list, mainly due to the height, size and width of skiing slopes, but Steamboat was just as good. It had snowed around 30 cm when we arrived on Saturday, which meant that for the first two days all of us could do a lot of powder skiing. Colorado’s “Champagne powder” was really unique, like loose, fluffy crystal snow. It was quite cold for the first few days, around -10 to -15 degrees; however there was no wind at all (0 m / s). Together with the sunshine and the dry air, it didn’t feel particularly cold. As the days passed, it became much warmer, often feeling like +20 degrees in the sun due to the height, with around 0 degrees in the air. The sun was strong and everyone rubbed in with 50 SPF sun cream, and yet, the kids were almost sunburnt on their noses. With no more snow, the slopes became harder so we chose off piste skiing more and more that week. After we left, the snowy conditions returned with a snowfall of 60 cm that weekend. 

As mentioned, there was a lot of people in the lift queues at the central lifts at the weekend, and the same for the restaurant were we had pizza for lunch. However, it was almost completely empty in other parts of the area. After the weekend, all the people disappeared and it was empty everywhere. This together with the fact that we stayed on the hill meant that we got a lot out of our skiing experience. We managed to fit in a lot! The lifts were open 0800-1600 so the days were long. As skiers are early risers, everyone was in the slopes at 0830. Steamboat had evening skiing from 18-21 on Thursdays but only in 3 slopes, and evening skiing was not an exotic experience as we have already done it all.

The slopes were really well made, and the soft, velvety snow lasted all day, mainly due to the few people but also the snow composition. There were simply no big humps in the slopes, which are commonly present in the afternoons in other resorts like Sälen, Trysil etc, and there were no icy slopes. Generally, a really steep hill in Sweden (Väggen, Experten, Chocken etc) is like skiing on icy parts. With grinded skis this is not a problem, but it was so much more pleasant to ski down the steep hill on such soft, lovely surface! Really wonderful!

When it comes to price, Steamboat was expensive! You know it is expensive when even the boys were complaining about food prices at the restaurants in the slopes. We chose to have lunch in the apartment every day except one. We had shopped a range of dinners to eat in the apartment, so we only ate dinner out once during our stay. Otherwise, it was cheap in Colorado, gasoline costs only $ 2.03 per gallon! Almost Texas Prize! Even food, clothing etc. in stores were clearly cheaper (in dollars) than on both the East and the West coast.
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Impressions from Steamboat
I thought Steamboat’s slopes and snow were among the best I have experienced. We were incredibly impressed by the soft snow and the really long slopes. I have been skiing all my life, mainly in Sweden (at most facilities) and Norway but also in the Alps (Val Thorens, Val d’Isere, Chamonix etc). Admittedly, Val Thorens is very high on my favourites list, mainly due to the height, size and width of skiing slopes, but Steamboat was just as good. It had snowed around 30 cm when we arrived on Saturday, which meant that for the first two days all of us could do a lot of powder skiing. Colorado’s “Champagne powder” was really unique, like loose, fluffy crystal snow. It was quite cold for the first few days, around -10 to -15 degrees; however there was no wind at all (0 m / s). Together with the sunshine and the dry air, it didn’t feel particularly cold. As the days passed, it became much warmer, often feeling like +20 degrees in the sun due to the height, with around 0 degrees in the air. The sun was strong and everyone rubbed in with 50 SPF sun cream, and yet, the kids were almost sunburnt on their noses. With no more snow, the slopes became harder so we chose off piste skiing more and more that week. After we left, the snowy conditions returned with a snowfall of 60 cm that weekend. 

As mentioned, there was a lot of people in the lift queues at the central lifts at the weekend, and the same for the restaurant were we had pizza for lunch. However, it was almost completely empty in other parts of the area. After the weekend, all the people disappeared and it was empty everywhere. This together with the fact that we stayed on the hill meant that we got a lot out of our skiing experience. We managed to fit in a lot! The lifts were open 0800-1600 so the days were long. As skiers are early risers, everyone was in the slopes at 0830. Steamboat had evening skiing from 18-21 on Thursdays but only in 3 slopes, and evening skiing was not an exotic experience as we have already done it all.

The slopes were really well made, and the soft, velvety snow lasted all day, mainly due to the few people but also the snow composition. There were simply no big humps in the slopes, which are commonly present in the afternoons in other resorts like Sälen, Trysil etc, and there were no icy slopes. Generally, a really steep hill in Sweden (Väggen, Experten, Chocken etc) is like skiing on icy parts. With grinded skis this is not a problem, but it was so much more pleasant to ski down the steep hill on such soft, lovely surface! Really wonderful!

When it comes to price, Steamboat was expensive! You know it is expensive when even the boys were complaining about food prices at the restaurants in the slopes. We chose to have lunch in the apartment every day except one. We had shopped a range of dinners to eat in the apartment, so we only ate dinner out once during our stay. Otherwise, it was cheap in Colorado, gasoline costs only $ 2.03 per gallon! Almost Texas Prize! Even food, clothing etc. in stores were clearly cheaper (in dollars) than on both the East and the West coast.

 

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Things to do other than skiing.

Downhill skiing is the main attraction in Steamboat, but there are certainly other things to do as well.

Steamboat Springs
It takes about 10 mins to downtown Steamboat Springs, a rather small town consisting of a street with charming western-themed shops. There are several galleries, grocery stores, souvenir shops and restaurants. We tried genuine Stetson cowboy hats, nice but uncomfortable (hard). A perfect excursion for a few hours in the afternoon/evening.

Outlaw Mountain Coaster
Steamboat features USA’s longest mountain coaster, a mix of toboggan and a roller coaster. We got free tickets with our SVIP package, and it was an exciting experience at full speed!

Old Town Hot Springs
The name Steamboat Springs comes from the early 1800s when French fur hunters heard something they thought was a loud noise from a steam engine. It turned out to be a hot mineral spring. The Strawberry Park Hot Springs are the most famous; however, it is quite a trek there so we chose to visit Old Town Hot Springs in the middle of Steamboat Springs. They have built pools around the natural hot spring, consisting of various outdoor pools. A partly “natural source pool” that pumps out 700 litres per minute of natural 38-degree mineral water, and a lot of other chlorinated, hot pools to swim in. In addition, there were 2 water slides that the kids loved to try on and on again. A climbing wall was located on one side of the pool and there was also a fitness pool. Further, they had a gym, massage, sauna etc. in the same building.

The hot water and the cold air formed a lot of vapour, which created an amazing atmosphere at sunset when the steam filled the air. Definitely a nice evening attraction.

There were lots of other activities available too, of course, ranging from snowmobiling to riding in snow on the ranches. But our focus was skiing, except for the few excursions already mentioned.

Homestay 

On the last day of skiing it was only sun for half the day, the clouds rolled in and in the evening it started snowing. The day we travelled we left the room already at 8 a.m. to ensure enough time for the 3.5 hrs car journey. Up in the mountains, the weather can change quickly and we have already experienced that the tyres on our Nissan Rogue were not the best. However, they were always quick with snow removal here. We had seen them stand ready along the highway. They gritted the roads well and they did it quickly. Fortunately, we had perfect weather on the road, and there was a heat wave in Denver with 15 degrees (which would drop to -15 in a few days).

With some extra time as we approached Denver, we turned off the highway and found a small “Dinosaur Discovery Center”. Colorado is known for all the dinosaur discoveries, finding many disguised traces, fossils and skeletons of dinosaurs. The children thought it was a very interesting experience. You could walk on a path over the Dinosaur Ridge to see dinosaur prints in stone etc., but we had to leave this for summer holiday instead, when we plan to return to Denver and Colorado.


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Denver Int Airport and United Club
After leaving the rental car at Hertz, we checked in and headed for the lounge. This was easier said than done. Our flight would depart from concourse A and United has two lounges, although both of them are in concourse B, B west and B East. Apparently they are the same, except that West is renovated. You take the shuttle train from the main terminal out to concourse A, B and C. We went to B and looked at West lounge, located at B32. It was quite large with a manned bar, coffee machines, various snacks, such as sandwiches, vegetables with dip, Parma ham + mozzarella, soup etc.

Only the tap beer (Bud), two varieties of wine and a simple whiskey/vodka, etc. were free, while anything else we had to pay for. The lounge was alright, however, there was a lot of people. Getting from B-A takes around 15 min so we went back with the train to A shortly before boarding.

 

Denver – Frankfurt LH447

This time we would fly with a 747-400. We had the same seats, 82-83A and C, on this flight too. Even this time we had a really nice FA who took care of us, was always happy and quick when serving. The bubbles were served straight away when we were seated. On this flight as well, business was completely full, and it seemed to be exclusively businessmen.
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In terms of hardware, it was the same seats as in the 747-8, however, less space, as there were no storage compartment by the window as on the larger plane. As for the IFE, it was of an older generation. Big screens though with good resolution, but it was not touch screen so you had to use the remote to control it. Unfortunately it was not particularly responsive and the mouse pointer often jumped around on the screen. The film selection had changed slightly from the March package, with a massive choice of +200 movies. The Amenity kit we got this time looked different, more like a pencil case. It contained the usually in addition to a cream from L’Occitane; however, there were different creams, in each one, either a hand lotion, body lotion or a facial cream. The children were not offered a bag, but they got some games, such as cards, spot the difference, memory etc.
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The service started after take-off and after some drinks, dinner was served. Lufthansa seemed to have some “American influences” from the US. Even on this flight the food was very good. I chose the Chipotle shrimp and later, steak with sides, and a cheese platter for dessert. The steak was perfectly made. The kids got ham & cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese and chicken fingers (enough for two per serving!). We also had plenty to drink, quickly refilled by an alert FA.

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Frankfurt Senator A50 Schengen
After a short and smooth passport inspection and a short stroll we entered the Schengen area. After a bit of shopping we went to the Senator lounge at A50. It is very similar to the appearance of the Z-senator, although a little smaller and above all, more people! It was lunchtime and the food was quite similar to the food in the Z-lounge, which we had the week before. A manned station with kebabs in slices, various chicken pots and soups, salad bar, pretzels, fruit, sweets and desserts. They have 6 shower rooms and I took the opportunity to have a shower and shave, really good service and big, fresh shower rooms.

Frankfurt – Arlanda, LH806
Finally, it was time to board the flight home, an A319. It was a bus gate and our bus driver took us on a sightseeing tour all over Frankfurt am Main airport, My spouse has never been on such a long bus ride. In the end we reached our plane. The business section was only half full. Lufthansa business intra-Europe is much like SAS Plus, with minor differences. I did not think it was as crowded as SAS. You can always use seat blocks and you get “food” on tray with a refill drink. It was nice not to have the boxed food. The food consisted of a small portion with ham + melon and a small calamari salad- a weird combo, but tasted quite ok. An eventless flight otherwise, we landed on time and although a little tired we arrived home in the afternoon. The adventure was over for this time!


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Colorado was a state we would like to return to, so a few days later I booked a flight to Denver in July with Lufthansa miles and more bargains. 192,000 miles for the four of us- a really great deal! There will definitely be more skiing in Colorado during the holidays/Easter of 2020!

Thanks to @Senator for tips on Steamboat and thank you for taking your time reading this!