All this and shopping, too
Vail CO, ColoradoOutside Vail and Beaver Creek, mud season slips more toward myth with each passing year, each percentage climb in population.Don’t tell the resort villages, though. They remain steeped in the traditional seasons: “ski,” “mud,” “summer” and “can’t wait for the ski hills to open.”About 70 percent of the annual income there still comes from ski season. That makes our resort economy a mirror image of Estes Park, which depends on summer as much as Vail does on winter.It’s been this way forever, despite ambitious marketing and flight programs that must make a dent but have not as yet really tilted the economy in anything resembling a seasonal balance.So summer remains that best-kept secret, somehow. And many stores and restaurants shutter for spring.But west of Dowd Junction, the story changes a bit. The farther downvalley you go, the fewer merchants have a mud season so much as maybe a little dip, depending on their clientele.Unlike Vail and Beaver Creek, where seasonal swings leave periodic shortages of shoppers, the valley as a whole has too little shopping for the potential, now and in the future.Growth has delivered year-round communities below 8,000 feet. The lower you go, the more year-round they become. In a reverse of the old deer-elk joke, you can seriously ask at what elevation a resort becomes a regular town.Some ski town purists don’t much like these developments. And some natives who endured the relative poverty before the resort era welcome the wealth, if not so much the tide of tourists who move in because of it.The dirty little secret is that “suburbia” brings blessings, too. An awful lot of people want their skiing and their year-round conveniences, too.- Don Rogers for the Editorial Board
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