VAIL, Colorado - Most of us already think Vail's a pretty special place. It turns out, the folks at Barron's Online think so, too.A March 3 story, "20 Best Places for Second Homes," puts Vail in the fifth spot on the list. Aspen is seventh. Given Barron's appeal to Wall Street types, it's no surprise that Hamptons, in New York, was at the top of the list. Filling out the top five were, in order, Kauai, Hawaii; Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; and Kiawah Island, S.C.Barbara Scrivens, of Ron Byrne and Associates, was holding an open house at the old Golden Bear site in Vail Village when she talked about the list. Asked why she thought Vail finished above Aspen on the list, her initial answer was simple: Vail Mountain."Everything in Vail centers around the mountain. It always has, and it's that simple," Scrivens said.The size and variety of terrain available give Vail something other resorts just can't match, Scrivens said, adding that families or friends can ride one lift out of town, ski down on beginning, intermediate or expert terrain and then meet up again for another ride up."There's good skiing at Aspen, but it's spread across three mountains," she said. "And Telluride has good skiing, but it's not for everybody."But while skiing is king at Vail, that isn't all the town and valley have for luxury-home buyers. Jim Flaum, president and managing broker at Slifer Smith & Frampton, said with the expansion of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, he knows several people who have bought homes in Vail primarily to enjoy orchestras at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Summer brings access to numerous golf courses, of course, and Vail's shopping and dining options continue to expand."We've got a better food scene than Aspen now," Scrivens said, although she acknowledged the old mining town at the foot of Independence Pass still has better nightlife.But Eustaquio Cortina, who's been in the valley's lodging and real estate business for about 30 years, said nightlife isn't at the top of the list for his clients, many of whom are from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America."It's just a great place for families," Cortina said. "People of any age can enjoy themselves here."Cortina said he had a client several years ago who said he was buying a place in Vail for "blackmail.""He said 'I'm going to buy a place here and invite my family - they'll come,'" Cortina said.Beyond what's in Vail, Flaum said between the Eagle County Regional Airport and Interstate 70, getting to Vail is a lot easier than many other resorts.And, Flaum said, he expects the Barron's story to have an effect on the luxury market."It's not something you can really track, but it's a little more support and confirmation for our market," he said.And, given the times, it's good to have just about anything that boosts the local real estate market, Flaum said."Articles about real estate nationwide haven't been really positive the last few years," Flaum said. "People do pay attention to things like this."And the time may be right for the market to get a bit of a boost. Cortina said Vail's real estate is "walking, not running," right now. "But that's better than sitting," he said.Beyond the effects on potential buyers - who can pick and choose where they want a vacation home - Vail's spot on the Barron's list also provides a few bragging rights. Vail's spot on the top-20 list gave Scrivens a chance to tweak some friends in the Roaring Fork Valley."I have called some friends in Aspen, just to let 'em know," Scrivens said.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.
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