Bounty of snow boosts Vail’s early-season revenue over last winter |

Bounty of snow boosts Vail’s early-season revenue over last winter

By the numbers • 92.3 percent: 2018 increase from 2017 in town of Vail construction permits and plan check fees. • 41.8 percent: Increase from 2017 for November/December parking revenue for the same period in 2018. • 13.7 percent: Increase in Vail sales tax collections in November, 2018 from the same period in 2017. • 19.3 percent: Increase in Vail Real Estate Transfer Tax collections, 2018 over 2017. Source: Town of Vail

VAIL — We all know snow is a critical part of a mountain resort’s economy. So far, Vail’s sales tax collections for the early part of the current season are showing healthy increases over the previous year.

The town of Vail’s year-end revenue numbers reflects that better early-season snow. Sales tax in November 2018 was up 13.7 percent from 2017. So was the town’s parking revenue, which in November and December of 2018 showed a nearly 42 percent increase from the same period in 2017.

Vail Resort Rentals manages the Lift House Lodge in Lionshead Village. That property may have seen one of the biggest year-over-year increases in the valley. Vail Resort Rentals owner Dale Bugby said reservations at the Lift House Lodge in November 2018 were up 238 percent from the same period in 2017.

“We can’t even give rooms away without the snow,” Bugby said. Bugby added that a bad snow week in one season also impacts the next.

“If you have a couple of bad weeks, it doesn’t just hurt that year, but it hurts the next year, too,” he said.

A great start

But, good snow is a wonderful salve. All of Vail Mountain was open by Dec. 28, 2018. Vail’s back bowls didn’t open until January in the 2017-18 ski season.

“It’s so nice to have snow and people in town,” Claggett Rey Gallery co-owner Bill Rey said. Rey added that a lot of people were in town over Thanksgiving, with second-homeowners and frequent visitors packing the town between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Rey said the craziest traffic he saw in town came on Jan. 2, for whatever reason.

Those people hit the slopes, of course, but also frequented local restaurants.

At La Cantina, the restaurant inside the Vail Village Transportation Center, manager Chris Bourey said the place was “crazy busy” over the holiday season.

“The snow definitely helps,” Bourey said. “A lot of Denver people will eat at La Cantina before they go home.”

Great for real estate

While winter isn’t associated with growth, seeds can be planted in December.

Michael Slevin, owner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties, said his firm was busy over the first weeks of the current ski season.

“We’ve had a number of prospective buyers walking into the offices, and our web traffic increased pretty significantly,” Slevin said.

But, while people coming to Vail and Beaver Creek may start looking at property in December, they’re more likely to sign purchase contracts in the spring and summer.

And, Slevin added, good snow is helpful.

“Everyone arrives in town in a pretty good mood,” Slevin said. That always helps … there’s more traffic and more energy to the resorts… people get excited about living the dream of owning here.”

Slevin, who has spent most of his life in the Vail Valley, said he continues to be captivated by mountain snow.

“Holidays with snow is pure magic,” Slevin said. “It’s an experience few other areas have.”

And, when the snow comes and people are having fun, cash registers start to ring.

The Vail Town Council got a look at the early-season numbers Tuesday, prompting Mayor Dave Chapin to remark, “We’re snow farmers, and the harvest is bountiful.”

Now the snow needs to keep coming.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at or 970-748-2930.

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