Vail Valley just about full this week
Ryan Summerlin March 25, 2013
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Football players talk about “giving 110 percent,” and there are jokes about stuffing five pounds of stuff into a three-pound bag. But in reality, 100 percent is about as full as something gets, and the Vail Valley is very close to that this week.A combination of a traditional spring break week, along with Holy Week, the week before Easter, has filled rooms throughout the Vail Valley. Add in the annual Vail Film Festival, and this week could be the high-water mark for the entire ski season.More than 2,300 commercial passengers flew into the Eagle County Regional Airport March 23, the most so far this season. Just east of the commercial terminal, the Vail Valley Jet Center has also handled a number of private jets, many of which have Mexican, Venezuelan or Brazilian registration numbers on their tails.”It doesn’t get any busier than this,” Antlers at Vail General Manager Rob LeVine said, adding that there’s no more than a room or two available on a few nights in the middle of the week.That’s true in Beaver Creek, too. Scott Gubrud, sales and marketing director for the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, said that property is almost completely full for the coming week, and has averaged more than 90 percent full for all of March.At the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, Kristin Pryor said that lodge is also sold out for the week.With spring break and Holy Week crowds already in town, it’s hard to tell just where film festival guests fit in.Annie Lynch, sales and marketing director at The Sebastian hotel in Vail Village, said that property was full of its traditional seasonal visitors.”That’s why we aren’t doing anything with the film festival,” Lynch said. In fact, she said, it would be nice if the festival took place a week on either side of Easter, just to spread business out a little bit.The story is different across the street at Vail’s Four Seasons hotel. The hotel is full, of course, but it will also be the headquarters for the film festival. That’s going to fill both rooms and public areas at the hotel.”It’s really all hands on deck,” said Jim Guttau, public relations manager for the Four Seasons. “Even people who work in our offices will work this weekend.”Those people will help with everything from valet parking to serving as “human arrows” to guide guests and festival-goers with directions around the hotel. Guttau said the Four Seasons has jumped into projects like the film festival and the recent Cochon 555 culinary festival for a couple of reasons. First, of course, it puts more people into the hotel. And it gives guests something to do.”We’ve had people buy tickets to these events when they check in,” Guttau said. The other reason to hold those events is for the hotel to “give something back” to the community, Guttau said.But is it too much?”There’s a down side only in the opportunity cost – the chance to drive some incremental business to another week,” LeVine said. “But it’s a good problem to have.”In an emailed response to the same question, Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer agreed with LeVine.”There is no downside,” Romer wrote. “These are different events that draw different guests and combined are great for Vail.”With this week being perhaps the high-water mark for the season, business is going to recede quickly after Easter Sunday.The gondola up to Beaver Creek from the Westin closes April 7, and most of the commercial flights into the county airport shut down on that date, too. After April 7, the airport goes back to its single daily United Airlines flight to and from Denver.That’s what happens when Easter falls in March.”Easter comes and people just naturally think about golf,” Lynch said. Next year, people may be thinking about golf in early spring, but they’ll still have several weeks to plan their Easter-week vacations – the holiday is April 20.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.