Business strong as season’s end nears
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – It’s been an interesting winter plagued by dry weather and higher temperatures in March and early April, but that hasn’t kept the people away.
Businesses in Vail Village are noticing that despite imperfect conditions on the mountain, people are in town shopping, dining and seemingly having a good time this week, just one week before the mountains close for the season.
“We’ve been quite steady because a lot of people aren’t skiing,” said Ann Writer, who works at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum. “We’ve noticed this throughout the last month. Really, February, March and April have all been really good for us.”
On the heels of a season in which local and regional powder enthusiasts may have been disappointed, visitors have seemed less disappointed. When locals complained about early-season snow in December, many visitors didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
This week, foot traffic through the villages has remained strong. At Artful Sol, a Vail Village art gallery near the International Bridge, owner Cheryl Peter said the high-dollar artwork is still moving.
“We still have the high-end sales,” she said. “I think (Vail is) really lucky – we’re totally nonaffected by the economy.”
Peter has noticed the many visitors from Mexico in town this week, but said the majority of her high-end sales have been to Americans.
“I’m shipping to Los Angeles, New York, Florida and Texas,” Peter said. “To me, the Americans are the ones spending the big dollars.”
At other businesses in town, though, the Mexican presence in town this week has been crucial.
Dennis Foley, owner of Bart and Yeti’s in Lionshead, said that market has helped the town’s economy “a bunch this winter.”
“All of our south-of-the-border friends – I’m glad we had them,” Foley said.
Foley said business has been good the past week. He said the Lindsey Vonn event last weekend helped bring people in, and the people in town seem to be enjoying the end-of-season weather. He has noticed fewer people coming up from Denver on the weekends, though, because of the snow, he said.
“You do what you can with what you have,” Foley said. “Business here in Vail, you’ve got to look at the positives and can’t look at the negatives.”
Stephen Virion, owner at La Bottega in Vail Village, which is a hot spot for the Mexican crowds, said his Mexican customers this week have said they haven’t been skiing as much, but they’re still smiling.
“I’m kind of surprised they’re all here (this week),” Virion said. “Other than Mexicans, I think business has dropped down quite a bit.”
Virion said the Mexican culture is to be very social. Plus, many Mexicans own second homes in Vail and will come to town no matter what.
“They’re like social animals – they like to all be together,” he said.
Vail Mountain has ramped up its marketing campaigns in Mexico in recent years. The resort has recognized the long history it has with Mexican families who began coming here soon after the resort opened nearly 50 years ago. Marketing teams take several trips to Mexico per year, trying to maintain and build the relationship.
A family of Mexicans on the gondola Friday afternoon said that in Mexico, Vail is known as the place to take a ski vacation. Vail, over any other American resort town, is where they want to go, one teenager said.
Writer noticed the Mexican visitors in town this week, but she said she’s noticing some other emerging international markets just from her own observations of who’s coming into the ski museum.
“We’ve had more people from Hong Kong this year,” Writer said. “England is a big one. People from Florida, and Scotland this morning – they’re all getting ready to leave, but they’re doing their shopping before they leave.”
Writer said she’s hearing that shops and restaurants in town are also doing well. She has also gotten indications that next season will be successful, too.
“A lot of people are interested in knowing about the 50th anniversary and are planning to return,” Writer said. “I’ve had people say to me, ‘As many years as I’ve been coming to Vail, this is definitely the worst (in terms of snow), however Vail is still wonderful.'”
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.