EAGLE COUNTY — The cliche is nearly as old as Vail itself: “I came for the winter, but stayed for the summer.” These days, more visitors are taking that advice to heart.
Managers of several condominium complexes around the valley say they’ve seen more people starting to book stays that last large chunks of the summer — anything from a few weeks to a couple of months. The numbers are still relatively small, but they’re growing.
Just right temperature
The attraction, of course, is the weather. After all, would you rather spend your summer in Phoenix, Tulsa or Vail?
“We have the best summer weather of any place I know of,” said Dale Bugby of Vail Resort Rentals. “And we’ve got amenities other mountain communities just don’t have.”
Bugby said there are 10 or 12 parties who have booked condos for big parts of the summer this year. It’s not a lot, but the numbers are growing, he said.
At Manor Vail Lodge, general manager Bob McCleary said that property has a handful of guests who spend multiple weeks. Some come for the entire season of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, while others come just to enjoy the weather.
“We’re seeing more people inquiring about extended stays,” McCleary said. On the other hand, it can be hard to find owners willing to rent out their units for an entire summer, he said.
The interest in longer stays extends down the valley, to an extent. Beaver Creek West’s general manager Mike Bennett said he’s also fielding requests for longer stays.
“We’ve been seeing it for a couple of years now,” Bennett said.
So, who’s coming for those longer stays? The mix includes retired couples, families and international visitors.
The oldest members of the “Baby Boom” generation were born in 1946, which puts those people at about 67 years old these days, the relatively early stages of what many people consider retirement age.
McCleary said he hears from a number of those people.
Those people are retired, of course, and tend to be comfortable, not wealthy — “If they had a lot (of money), they’d be buying condos,” McCleary said, adding that he regularly negotiates rates with those guests.
Other long-term summer guests are here from Mexico. Bugby said several of his company’s summer-long guests have homes in that country.
At Simba Run, general manager Farrow Hitt said that complex has long had a good handful of guests who stay for multiple weeks.
Those people came even this year, when the property is in the midst of an extensive renovation project.
Like Bugby and McCleary, Hitt said he’s starting to hear more interest in longer stays.
Lower Lodging Rates
Part of the reason people are starting to become more interested in longer stays involves fairly simple math.
Summer lodging rates have always been lower than ski-season rates, and someone staying for 30 days is likely to get a break even on those lower per-night rates.
While those guests aren’t paying anything like peak-season prices — although Bugby said nightly summer rates have rebounded to pre-recession levels — it’s good to have units rented and not sitting idle.
“We’re pretty well sold out for July and August,” Bugby said.
The interest in longer summer stays may intensify in coming years, McCleary said.
With summer air service from Dallas well established, McCleary said people flying this summer’s new flight, from Houston, may see a way to make the Vail Valley their home base for summer.
“You could fly the family up here for the summer, then head back home to work when you need to,” he said.
While more people may end up spending bigger parts of their summers here, one property manager recently expressed some worry about the trend.
To eat in or eat out
At a recent meeting of the Vail Economic Advisory Council, Rob LeVine, general manager of The Antlers, said that property is seeing more people staying for multiple weeks during the summer, but wondered aloud if people staying several weeks in condos might affect other businesses.
People staying in units with kitchens simply don’t eat out every night.
But Brian Nolan, whose company owns several restaurants in Vail and Beaver Creek, said he isn’t particularly worried.
“If people are here, they’re still eating out,” he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at smiller@ vaildaily.com.