Busy holiday encourages Vail Valley businesses | VailDaily.com

Busy holiday encourages Vail Valley businesses

Vail Daily staff report
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail Mountain ticket scanner Stuart Turner, right, waits for skiers to come through his lift line on a relatively slow start to President's weekend Saturday at the Vista Bahn

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – The most recent holiday weekend was pretty good to Vail Valley businesses.

Calls to businesses in Vail and Beaver Creek Monday brought reports of a busy weekend – not 2007 busy, but busy for a valley, state and country still mired in an economic slump.

Mike Brumbaugh at Venture Sports in Avon said his store was busy, despite a rash of canceled gear-rental reservations because of weather-related problems in the eastern part of the country. But, Brumbaugh said, many of the people who canceled their gear reservations told him they’ll visit the valley this coming weekend.

“That would have been unheard of a few years ago – lodges letting people cancel their reservations and book for the next weekend,” Brumbaugh said.

But even with travel troubles back east, local businesses reported good weekends.

“It was fantastic at both places,” said Lourdes Ferzacca, co-owner of LaTour in Vail and ZaccaZa in Avon. “We’ve actually had a wonderful winter so far.”

Ferzacca said she and her husband, Paul, have renewed their emphasis on marketing and customer service, from meetings with staff to talking to people out and about in the community.

In Beaver Creek, Grouse Mountain Grill co-owner Nancy Dowell said that restaurant’s Presidents Day weekend had also been a success. Dowell, too, was encouraged by the winter’s business so far.

“We’re seeing a lot of our good clients coming back in this winter,” Dowell said. “The hotel (The Pines Lodge) seems to be doing a little better, and the other hotels, too.

“Things seem to be looking up a little,” she added.

While people coming from the eastern part of the country might have had to cancel or re-book their reservations, Manor Vail Lodge General Manager Bob McCleary said that property was almost full for the weekend. And Marcella Bettis, the sales and marketing manager for VBCRP Property Management said that company’s Vail and Beaver Creek properties – about 400 units in all – were almost completely booked.

But reports of a busy valley doesn’t seem to have translated into clogged parking. One report Saturday indicated that there weren’t any cars parked on U.S. Highway 6 at the base of Beaver Creek, and Vail parking and transit manager Mike Rose said cars were only parked on the town’s frontage roads on Saturday.

“People seem to come in, and if they see the parking lots are about to fill, they leave,” Rose said.

Still, Rose said that after a slow December, the town’s parking and bus ridership numbers are about even with last season, when there were plenty of skiers, but not many people spending money on anything but their Epic passes.

While business owners and managers seem to be feeling a little better about business this season, visitors are still booking a lot of rooms and activities at the last minute.

Darryl Bangert, owner of Sage Outdoor Adventures in Vail, said his company had a busy weekend with its snowmobile tours, but that much of the business is coming, literally, at the last minute.

“We had a lot of calls asking about when the next trip left, or what we had in the next hour,” Bangert said.

“We had one couple that was driving from Avon, headed to (Denver International Airport) to leave,” Bangert said. “They called me, and turned around at Dowd Junction and went to Wolcott to take a tour… It just seems like in a depressed economy, people are more spontaneous.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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