EAGLE COUNTY — Chris Romer loves skiing on Christmas day — he can get a little peace and quiet on the mountain.
While the two weeks of the Christmas and New Year’s holidays see the valley at its busiest, Christmas day itself brings a bit of a breather from the bustle. And, depending what day of the week Christmas Day falls, the few days before Christmas can actually be less busy.
Jeanne Fritch, general manager of the Sitzmark Lodge in Vail Village, said that small hotel had a few rooms available in the days before Christmas, and today itself. Antlers Lodge general manager Rob LeVine said that property also had rooms available in the few days before Christmas.
That’s a change from past years, when people would book the entire two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s.
“Travel schedules have changed,” Fritch said. “People don’t have as much time for their vacations as they used to.”
LeVine said having a slack few days before Christmas — and Christmas itself, since people tend not to want to travel that day — is becoming something of a worry in the lodging business.
At the Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek, general manager Robert Purdy said that hotel expected to be full from today on. But, he added, that hotel, like others, had some availability the first three days of this week.
“We really tend to see a pickup from Dec. 26 on,” said Romer, president of the Vail Valley Partnership, the valley’s convention and tourism bureau. “People just want to spend time with their families, and I don’t think any amount of marketing can change that.”
Still, there are plenty of people in the valley — we’ve all seen the crowds at the Vail and Avon grocery stores. But Christmas Day tends to be a little less for vacationing and more for being with family. That’s why Romer loves skiing on Christmas Day.
Purdy said while the Hyatt’s food and beverage department — from restaurants to room service — is busy on Christmas Day, what he sees tells him many families keep a low profile on Christmas Day, preferring to celebrate, not recreate.
People may keep a slightly lower profile on Christmas, but they still have to eat.
Dmitri Souvorin, co-owner and head chef at Montauk Seafood Grill in Lionshead, answered a couple of reservation calls during a few minutes on the phone Monday to talk about this story. He said the restaurant’s reservation book is essentially full up from now, including Christmas Day, until about Jan. 6.
“We might have a few at 5 (p.m.) or at 9:30 (p.m.), but that’s about it,” he said.
Even with some room availability in the days before Christmas, the valley’s lodges expect to be every bit as busy as the restaurants from now through the weekend of Jan. 5
“We have more demand than we can handle from Dec. 26 through Jan. 2 or so,” LeVine said.
Purdy said the guests who come to stay through the New Year often prefer to be at their own homes on Christmas, and then hit the slopes for a vacation. Those people fill the Hyatt to capacity.
And make no mistake, even with a few rooms available, the valley is busy right now and will become even more so during the next 10 days or so.
“These two weeks are far and away our busiest time,” Souvorin said. “It just doesn’t get any busier.”
So if the lift lines are slim today, get out and enjoy.