● By Gena Fischer
by Gena FischerPlay rooms for big Kids Ever wonder why kids like to spend so much time in their rooms, or hothey can play inside all day? It's the toys. Play rooms aren't just for the kids, folks. Even big kids can have rec-rooms that make a gloomy day seem like child's play. While Steamboat Springs offers an endless array of outdoor activities, what happens when the weather is too hot to ski, or too cold to bike? What are we to do when we can't enjoy Mother Nature's playground? Three Steamboat couples solved the problem by building indoor playgrounds � grown-up rec-rooms that would make any kid jealous and make us all wish for a rainy day.The Bessette family entertains friends in their basement rec-room. Photo courtesy of Ken Proper. The entry to Scott and Anissa Bessette's home looks traditional, but the real treat is downstairs. In 2002, the couple transformed the cold concrete basement into 2,000 square feet of fun, complete with a gym, pool table, ping pong table, regulation size air hockey table and a Monopoly pinball machine. Stone arches divide the game area from an intimate media room complete with gas fireplace and the all-essential bar. "We spend all our time here," Anissa says. "Some-times we have to fight the kids for the pinball machine." Scott designed the large room, which was built by Wade Miller using stone to create the arches, cubbies and bar area and wood for countertops and cabinetry. The combination, along with recessed lighting and a well-placed elk head complete with antlers, creates a room with a rustic old-world feel. "It's very cozy," Anissa says. "I feel relaxed when I'm down here. It's definitely our family's favorite part of the house." Just up the road is another rec-room full of water, in the form of a 34-foot indoor swimming pool. When you drive up to Tom and Gloria Fitzgerald's 6,000 square-foot, log-sided home you knoit's something special. Greeting you on the lawn, and seemingly guarding the front door, is a 1,500-pound bronze moose, sculpted by Canadian artist Karl Lansing. Inside, log posts and pine ceilings define the spaces between the rustic living room and kitchen. Then you open the door past the kitchen and discover hocool this place really is.The Fitzgeralds' neighbor, David, enjoys a jump in the pool. Photo courtesy of Ken Proper. "I wanted an outdoor pool," says Tom, a retired business owner from Chicago, "but my architect talked me into an indoor one. It was a great decision." The Fitzgeralds' home was designed by Eric Smith & Associates and built by John Shively in 1995. The poolroom also has a hot tub, gym and a bar with a sub-zero refrigerator. Sports memorabilia adorn the walls, including an autographed football from legendary Chicago Bears' running back Walter Payton. "I try to use the pool every day," says Gloria, who turns on the large screen television above the bar while she swims. "When it's commercials, I swim laps, when it's the movie, I paddle," she says. The room opens to an outdoor patio where the couple barbecues with friends and family. "We have a lot of fun here with our grandkids," Gloria says. Making a pit stop in South Routt, Ray and Deb Croghan love two things, traveling and bikes � Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be exact. So when the couple is not touring around the world on Harleys, or visiting their two Boulder-area Harley-Davidson shops, you will find them sitting in their Harley-worthy rec-room near Stagecoach. This place is definitely hog heaven. The 8,000-square-foot home feels like a great Western lodge with huge log columns, an aspen twig staircase, a great room with soaring ceilings and windows overlooking Stagecoach Reservoir. Built by Fox Construction in 2003 and designed by Steamboat Architectural Associates, the home overlooks the reservoir on one side and a private lake on the other. Take the elevator down to the lower level where the real fun begins.The Croghans' Harley Davidson-themed game room.Photo courtesy of Ken Proper. The Croghans' fondness for Harleys is evident when you walk into their rec-room filled with Harley-Davidson emblems and memorabilia. The room has a beautiful alderwood sunken bar, 25-foot shuffleboard table, billiards table, plasma TV and a limited edition Harley-Davidson Monopoly game with gold houses and hotels. Off the rec-room is a gym worthy of membership fees and a home theater that seats six on two leather sofas, complete with handy drink holders. Also off the rec-room, a stain-glass door opens to a 1,800-bottle wine cellar with a poker table smack in the middle, and yet another door that leads into a cigar room. When you're feeling worn out, head upstairs to a hot tub room where a windowall opens to shooff Stagecoach Reservoir. "My favorite part of the rec-room is the sunken bar," Deb says. "Or the shuffleboard. I love the shuffleboard. That's where everyone gravitates." Can't play outside? No worries. Just remember the kids' motto � it's all about the toys. Gena Fischer has a journalism degree and writes for several magazines. She is a 12-year Steamboat resident.