BEAVER CREEK — When operating in an area that’s built to capacity, you have to be efficient with your use of space.
That’s the current scenario in Beaver Creek’s base area, which is in the finishing stages of an extensive remodel in an effort to improve guest service and convenience.
Gone are view impediments such as the information kiosk on the western side of the ice rink, along with the building formerly known as the Zamboni house.
New for this season, will be a large fire pit area — a pedestrian friendly gathering place on the eastern side of the ice rink — and two new sets of escalators where the grand staircase between the Park Hyatt and Ford Hall used to be.
“At Beaver Creek we don’t believe in stairs, so we try to eliminate them whenever possible,” said Tim Baker, the executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company. “ ... Stairs are not a real enjoyable experience when you’re trying to walk up them with two 6-year-old kids who have skis over their shoulders and are wearing ski boots.”
STAIR-ING AT OPPORTUNITY
And by replacing those stairs with an escalator, another opportunity presented itself.
“The lower staircase sat on dirt,” said Baker. “I don’t think anyone ever realized ... we really had to get in there and demo the stairs out, and then we all kind of looked at it and scratched our heads and were like, ‘Huh, we got a little more flexibility in this space than we thought.’”
In that mass of dirt was the potential for some space in an area that was previously understood to have none.
“We actually went back and forth as to whether or not we wanted to build this space, due to cost,” Baker said. “Where we landed is we were like, ‘You know what? If we don’t do it now, we’re never going to be able to do this again,’ because it would mean removing these escalators, that we’re paying a lot of money to install, to build this space.”
Seizing the moment, Beaver Creek had the dirt removed and replaced with a cavernous garage space under the lower escalator, where the ice rink’s Zamboni machine will now be stored.
“It was certainly an opportunity for recognizing some economies of scale,” said Baker. “And getting it done while we still had the opportunity. ... Had we not, we would have probably never had the opportunity to build it in the future.”
The moving of the Zamboni storage facility doesn’t just create a much clearer line of view through the plaza, it also allows the thrice-a-day ice maintenance ritual to better observe one of the long-standing rules of showmanship: Make an entrance.
“The Zamboni will be entering from the side now, crossing the plaza,” said Jerry Hensel, operations manager at Beaver Creek. “So, the Zamboni will make a more of grand entrance, obviously, with us stopping some pedestrian flow to cross the plaza — about a 40-foot section.”
Zamboni driver Michelle Siemer said the construction process has brought new eyes to the Zamboni machine, which has the unique distinction of being the only outdoor electric Zamboni in the United States.
With Beaver Creek able to keep the outdoor ice rink operational during the summer months, it’s been a blast navigating the Zamboni around the construction, Siemer said.
“Over the summer, while they’ve been doing the construction, we’ve had to drive the Zamboni from Village Hall, around the corner and then all the way through the plaza onto the ice,” Siemer said. “That was really funny because periodically you’d be driving out of Village Hall and people would almost drive off the road when they realized they were passing a Zamboni on the street, or there’s one following them through the plaza, trying to get to the ice rink.”
The Beaver Creek ice rink will be open every day of the resort’s 2013-14 season, from noon to 9 p.m. starting on Friday.