Brisk business during holiday in Vail |

Brisk business during holiday in Vail

VAIL ” Bad weather and closed highways Friday and Saturday gave Jeff Kennedy and Buzz Schleper a bit of a Presidents Day weekend boost.

“Friday was as busy as I’ve seen it,” said Kennedy, owner of Moe’s Original BBQ in Lionshead.

A combination of high winds on the ski slopes and Interstate 70 being closed for several hours Friday prevented a lot of people from getting to Vail, but it also kept a lot of people in town who otherwise would have left. Some of the people who stayed ate and had a beer or two at Kennedy’s place. Others wandered around town.

“We had a lot of shoppers Friday because people didn’t have anything better to do,” said Schleper.

Even with the highway closed most of Friday and parts of Saturday ” when avalanche control work closed westbound I-70 at the Eisenhower Tunnel for several hours ” Schleper said he had a booming weekend.

While Schleper, Kennedy, and a pair of restaurant managers who didn’t want to give their names said the weekend was busy, the highway delays had some effect. Kennedy said his business wasn’t as good Saturday.

“We do mostly locals’ business, so when passes are restricted, we’ll be down a little,” he said.

The Vail Village parking garage filled up early Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but the structure at Lionshead didn’t.

Gilbert Gonzales, a parking manager for the town of Vail, said there weren’t cars parked on South Frontage Road, as there often are on holiday weekends.

A lot of people head home most Mondays of three-day weekends, but that didn’t seem to be the case this week.

“It was like Sunday of a holiday weekend today,” said Vail Chamber and Business Association President Kaye Ferry, who was on Vail Mountain well into Monday afternoon.

“There were lines out every maze I saw,” she said.

The holiday weekend reflects what Schleper and Kennedy said is a solid season overall.

“The Vail economy has really been picking up over the last few years,” Kennedy said. “The whole season’s been good for us.”

And one property manager said the rest of the season is looking good as well.

“We’re basically booked through the end of the season,” said Lee Williams of Vail Realty, which manages about 130 condos for short-term rentals. “February has been one of the busiest months we’ve seen.”

This season benefits from a relatively late Easter Sunday, which falls on April 8 this year, Williams said.

Easter of 2008 falls in March, though, which means bookings will probably drop off a little earlier.

“People generally stop thinking about skiing after Easter,” he said. “When we have a March Easter, April is generally dead.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

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