VAIL — It’s time for the ski season’s home stretch. This year, the season at both Vail and Beaver Creek ends April 20, Easter Sunday.
While many other resorts have already shut down the lifts, staying open through Easter is important in Vail, given the number of Mexican and Latin American families who have school and work breaks for “Semana Santa,” the week before Easter Sunday.
Dave Chapin, a co-owner of Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village, has been in the valley long enough to see strong traditions develop.
“I’m seeing the third generation of families,” Chapin said.
And those families make up a good part of resort businesses’ customer base that week.
Chapin said he’s seen the Spanish-speaking customer base expand during the past 20 years or so, at least in part because the people who started coming in the 1970s are now bringing their extended families to the Vail Valley.
Luca Bruno, who owns a pair of Vail stores bearing his name, said Spanish-speaking guests in town during Holy Week help create a “great vibe” in the resorts. And, with Easter falling as late as it does this year, the Holy Week visitors help businesses with a nice boost before the fallow weeks until the summer season begins.
While Latin American families can be good for business, the fact remains they’re on vacation.
Julian Torres has been in the valley real estate business for some time, and he recently started his own real estate brokerage, SkyHigh Properties. Torres is bilingual and has several Latin American clients. He said it’s important to remember the fact those families are here on pleasure, not business.
“I let them reach out to me this week,” Torres said. “I keep in touch with clients, but it’s rare they do business this week — they’re having fun.”
While the Latin American crowd is significant, it’s not enough on its own to fill the valley. The Vail on Sale website run by the Vail Valley Partnership lists discounted lodging for people booking at the last minute. That site shows good, if not abundant room availability.
The big crush comes when Easter and spring break coincide, as they did last year, when Easter fell on March 31. Those groups create a full valley. That should happen again in 2015, when Easter is April 5.
That won’t happen this year. Lance Thompson, general manager of The Sebastian hotel in Vail, said his place is booked well, but not fully through Holy Week. And, Thompson said, the guest mix is distributed between Latin American and Front Range guests.
Of course, Vail Resorts’ traditional season-end events, from Spring Back to Vail concerts to pond skimming and other closing-weekend events, are designed to tap that Front Range market, since direct flights into the Eagle County Regional Airport ended at the end of March.
Front Range Visitors
But the Front Range could be a somewhat tougher sell this weekend. Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said the fine spring weather the Front Range has had recently generally gets people grabbing their bicycles and golf clubs, not their skis.
Still, the 10-day forecast for Denver calls for more clouds and cooler weather through much of Holy Week, so people may be ready to hit the slopes for another weekend.
Whatever the weather, expect at least a decently busy week for the valley until Closing Day. A chance of showers through the week won’t hurt, either.
“We’re doing fine,” Romer said. “There are plenty of deals out there, and Spring Back and (closing-weekend events) will likely draw some good crowds.”