Business this weekend boosted by events |

Business this weekend boosted by events

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado – Wet weather might be upon us this weekend, but the dryness of weeks past has highlighted just how important it is to have big events like Spring Back to Vail during slower times in the season and during slower seasons in general.

And with a lineup that brought in big acts like Thievery Corporation and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals this week, Vail has an allure this weekend that it might have otherwise lacked at the end of a winter that has been abnormally dry in Colorado, Utah and until recently, the Lake Tahoe region.

Vail hotels have varying reports for this weekend’s business, but many agree that Spring Back to Vail is critical this year for closing weekend business.

(Spring Back to Vail) is bringing people up here,” said Matt Drummet, the sales and marketing director at the Vail Mountain Haus. “It’s definitely selling hotel rooms.”

The Vail Mountain Haus is about 80 percent full this weekend, which Drummet calls “pretty good” for closing weekend. Reservations often depend on when Easter falls, as well as snow conditions.

Last week, over the Semana Santa holiday, the hotel was 100 percent booked. That business carried over into the past week, too, but a snowier March and April would have certainly brought more business, he said.

“If we had snow, it would be a whole different thing,” Drummet said.

At the Evergreen Lodge, there were just 11 rooms left for the weekend as of Friday afternoon. Beata Ignaszewska, who works in the reservations department at the Evergreen, said the amount of business this weekend is surprising.

“I guess it’s because of the Spring (Back to Vail) concerts, but we don’t know,” she said. “We picked up a little bit in the last few days, however we had some cancellations but also had some bookings.”

Ignaszewska said the majority of the bookings are coming from the Denver market. She said the hotel has been running a promotional ad in the Denver Post that brought in some of this weekend’s bookings.

Ralf Garrison, the director of the Mountain Travel Research Project, which studies the economics of mountain resort towns, said the pure destination guest business has pretty much come and gone as of now. A destination guest is someone who travels farther, stays longer and spends more.

The destination guests who are in Vail likely made their reservations months ago, he said, are looking for ways to enrich their time in Vail. The weekend concerts and Sunday’s pond skimming do just that.

An event like Spring Back to Vail is considered an activity for guests already in town, but it’s an attraction for those who are on the fence about whether they should come, Garrison said.

Local and regional guests who are considering whether they’ve gotten enough value out of their season pass this year or whether they want more ski days, an event like Spring Back to Vail adds value.

“Likely, the target for incremental business would be the local, the second-home owner, the season pass holder, in-state, regional guest who might be sitting on the fence,” Garrison said.

The effort to build up Vail’s event schedules during down times has been going on for several years now, but this year is when the importance of such efforts becomes obvious. A foundation is being built in the low seasons that uses events to bring people in rather than lower prices, Garrison said.

And, as luck will have it, Garrison said the snow forecasted this weekend could work out in Vail’s favor. If the Front Range residents who have been golfing in recent weeks see a resurgence of winter weather, they might choose to ski this weekend.

“(Vail) may end up getting a wild card that works out in their favor,” Garrison said.

Not all hotels are reporting good numbers this weekend. The Austria Haus is reporting a slower weekend this year compared to previous closing weekends. The hotel is also reporting little activity directly related to the concerts this week.

At the Sitzmark, General Manager Jeanne Fritch said the hotel is definitely slower this year than in previous closing weekends, especially on Saturday night, which is usually a big night.

She also thinks that without the Spring Back to Vail events, the hotel would surely be slower. She blames this year’s slower closing at the hotel on the snow, and said anyone coming to Vail this weekend is likely coming from the Front Range.

“I love that a few years ago they started doing a concert on Sunday night,” Fritch said, adding that the Sunday night show has helped keep people in town an extra night.

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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