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January 21, 2013
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Vail Valley posts busy weekend

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Lance Thompson finally got a bit of a breather Monday afternoon.

Thompson, the general manager of The Sebastian hotel in Vail Village, said he was watching guests check out, taking vans, cabs and cars on their way back home after a busy holiday weekend.

"We were sold out in the hotel," Thompson said, adding that the lodge was still fairly full Monday with destination guests booked for longer stays. In fact, Thompson said, the hotel will be sold out this coming weekend, as well as the first two weekends of February.

A lot of those guests will be foreign visitors, Thompson said.

"We're getting guests from Great Britain, Australia, Germany and Brazil," Thompson said.

Those destination guests are helping drive the Sebastian's revenue ahead of the pace set last season, Thompson added.

The story was similar at the Cascade Village Resort. There, Ami Hudgens said that hotel was sold out Friday and Saturday, thanks in large part to a couple of good-sized groups.

Between groups and individual travelers, Hudgens said the Cascade has been busy most weekends through the season so far.

In Lionshead, Cabal Yarne, owner of Arriesgado clothing, said his store had been busy over the holiday weekend, and the winter in general.

"We're on pace with last year, and last year was good," Yarne said, adding that he's still seeing peaks and valleys as the winter moves along.

The holiday weekend was a good one for gear rental, too.

At Buzz's Boards in Vail Village, store owner Buzz Schleper said that store came close to renting out its entire inventory over the weekend, and had a strong Monday, too.

"Starting Friday, it was just like Christmas," Schleper said.

Most of Schleper's customers were destination guests, he said, adding his own guess that Front Range skiers - particularly those with 10-day passes - are waiting for more snow to come. Still, he said, the entire season so far has been a good one, except for the first few weeks.

While the ski hills could still use more snow, Schleper said the conditions at Vail have been fine.

"I think the groomers in Vail are the best in the world," he said.

At Beaver Creek, Coyote Cafe general manager Buzz Busby said he's been hearing the same thing about conditions there.

"I hear it all, and no one's complaining," Busby said. "Last winter, we were doing phenomenal numbers, and we finally figured out that people were skiing less and spending more time in bars and restaurants. That's not the case this year."

Busby said his neighbors in the village are telling him the same thing.

"People are still a little apprehensive, but this is way better than last year," he said.

Just up the escalator from the Coyote, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Director of Sales and Marketing Scott Gubrud said he skied Beaver Creek over the weekend, and pronounced it fun.

That hotel was also busy, of course, but Gubrud said a lot of guests came on relatively short notice.

"Since the first of the year, we've had significant pickups (in reservations)," Gubrud said.

Those late-booking guests have also affected business at Black Tie Ski Rentals, which specializes in delivering rental equipment to guests a condos and hotels.

"This year, it seems like people are really waiting to book," said Adam Bristow, now in his fourth year of owning the Vail Valley office of the company. Even with the late arrivals, though, Bristow said this is the best season he's had in the time he's owned the business.

With a few other big dates on the horizon, Thompson said he's looking forward to March. Because many schools will have spring break the first two weeks of March, Thompson said he expects big crowds then, as well as Holy Week, the week before Easter Sunday.

"It's going to be very, very, busy," Thompson said.

With a relatively early Easter, though - it's on March 31 this year - local businesses are looking to profit while the crowds are here.

"It's hard to believe there's only about 90 days left in the season," Busby said.


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The VailDaily Updated Jan 21, 2013 09:45PM Published Jan 21, 2013 09:43PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.