Events, weather help drive September tourism
September 2, 2016
On the calendar*
Sept. 10: Vail Oktoberfest
Sept. 17: Colorado Grand Concours D’Non Elegance, Vail
Sept. 24: Flying Eagle Disc Golf Tournament, Eagle.
Oct. 1: Vail Valley Cup — Cindy Eskwith Memorial Soccer Tournament, Edwards and Eagle.
* This is a wildly incomplete list. For more information, go to the town of Vail’s master events calendar, the town of Eagle’s event calendar, the town of Avon’s event calendar or the Beaver Creek events calendar.
EAGLE COUNTY — Summer is supposed to be over, at least according to the unofficial calendar that puts the season's end at Labor Day. But September in the Vail Valley just keeps getting busier.
Over the past several years, September's lodging business in the valley has grown substantially. The Vail Valley Partnership, regional chamber of commerce, has a reservations division that tracks lodging numbers across the upper valley. According to its figures, September's lodging revenue now rivals that recorded in June.
Partnership President Chris Romer said that September's occupancy is actually a bit higher than June, but room rates are down a bit compared to early summer. But, he said, the numbers average out about the same for the two months.
Dale Bugby is the owner of Vail Resort Rentals, which manages the Lift House, among other properties in town. Bugby said for the past few years, September's business has actually been better than it is the last two weeks of August. In fact, the Lift House set a September record in 2015, and Bugby expects even better business this year.
"I think most hotels are staying busy through September, as long as the weather holds," Bugby said.
And the weather is an attraction.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek General Manager Robert Purdy said a combination of the weather forecast and the fall color predictions on Denver TV stations drives traffic to that hotel.
"It's not uncommon to see 50 to 60 rooms booked in a week (before a weekend)," Purdy said. "People hold out and see what the weather's going to be."
EARLY AUTUMN EVENTS
Besides the weather and fall colors, there's a growing number of events bringing visitors to the valley in the early autumn.
Oktoberfest celebrations in Vail and Beaver Creek are held three consecutive weekends, starting this weekend in Beaver Creek. Beyond those longtime mainstays, though, the calendar has filled up with other events, especially in Vail and Eagle.
Vail this month will host events ranging from the annual Colorado Grand auto show to the second running of the Outlier Offroad Festival to this year's latest, the FIPS Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships.
Hosting those events has extended the summer season into fall, Romer said.
"Our event footprint is really pretty impressive," Romer said. "Outside of maybe July, that footprint might be biggest in September."
That event footprint stretches down to Eagle in September.
Town events coordinator Amy Cassidy said town officials have made a strong push to bring more events to that part of the valley in September and October.
"We have the (Twitter) hashtag #EagleEveryWeekend," Cassidy said. "We have that all the way through September into October."
The results have been noticed in Eagle.
"It's paid off really well from a business, sales and lodging perspective," Cassidy said. And, while Eagle's weekend calendar is jam-packed the next several weekends, Cassidy said there could be room for more.
"For the right event that brings the right mix (of business), there's always potential," Cassidy said.
Tara and Nate Picklo own the Yeti's Grind coffee shops in Eagle and Vail. Tara Picklo said she's seen the uptick in September business the last few years. It's welcome, of course.
"It keeps us busy," Picklo said. "And the weather's so nice in September."
Having businesses on the east and west ends of the valley, Picklo said she notices how the changing weather plays a role in driving business to her shops.
The Eagle store would slow down significantly in September as kids returned to school and families went back to their kid-chasing schedules. With September weather generally being warmer in the western valley, Yeti's Grind sees cyclists and others coming from higher elevations to ride the trails there.
But, she added, she's "really thankful" for the efforts both towns have made to bring more people to town after Labor Day.
Still, events tend to dominate weekends. Romer said that leaves weekdays as an opportunity, but that opportunity is primarily for group and corporate business.
That business remains strong in the valley. Purdy said the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek has a strong mix of group and leisure travel business throughout the month and into early October.
That business is being picked up at other lodges, too.
"We've seen in the past hotels closing this time of year," Purdy said. "They're not closing now. That's an indication demand is getting stronger."