Are Vail’s visitors spending again?
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – While the country is still mired in deep recession, the Fourth of July weekend still brought thousands of visitors to the Vail Valley. Some even seem ready to spend a little money again.
At Larkspur restaurant in Vail, general manager Rob Sinclair reported big crowds and steady business. In fact, Larkspur’s diner numbers were up a bit from last year’s Fourth of the July weekend.
The important part of that, though, is what those diners were ordering.
“Last year we were doing specials all summer,” Sinclair said. “This year it’s full price.”
The Vail Golf Club reported strong business over the holiday weekend, too, with mostly full tee-time sheets for Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But that might have something to do with discounts this year.
“Last year we dropped our rates because of an irrigation project, and we left them down this year because of the economy,” Vail Golf Club Director of Golf Alice Plain said.
Besides golf and dining Darryl Bangert, owner of Sage Outdoor Adventures, said his company had a very busy Saturday and Monday. On the Fourth of July, Bangert said he expected business to slow because people were off at parades, barbecues and other activities.
But Bangert, who Monday had been pressed into shuttle-driving service, said weather and river conditions have added up to van-loads of people who want to play.
“The upper Colorado still has really good flows right now,” Bangert said. But, when reached for this story, Bangert was driving passengers to a tubing trip down Gore Creek, something he said is quickly becoming popular.
The fact people seem willing to spend money is good news, of course. So is the fact that, as usual, local lodges were full, or close to it.
“People were having a great time,” Vail Racquet Club General Manager Matt Ivy said. It helped that the weekend weather was largely cooperative, but Ivy said this Fourth of July was much like others, with plenty of people at the lodge.
To the continuing chagrin of those in the business of promoting the valley’s summer business, though, this Fourth of July was typical in that it marked the first really, really busy weekend of the summer.
Given that school starts in mid- to late August for so many kids these days, that leaves a fairly short window to draw families for anything more than a weekend.
“You’ve got to make hay when you can,” said Paul Treacy, co-owner of KidSport in Vail Village.
Treacy said his store on Meadow Drive had a good weekend. But, he added, while people seem to be spending a little more this year, that people are still being cautious with their money.
“People will still go to Vail, but they’re not just walking around and shopping after skiing,” he said.
Treacy said what he’s seeing is parents buying gear for their kids who have outgrown or lost something. But, he added, the days are gone when parents would something in a different color, or because it has the Vail logo.
“Thank God Vail does a good job of promoting itself,” Treacy said. “People were here and having a great experience, and they may come back. That will be important in our future.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.