Championships a mixed bag for business
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EAGLE COUNTY — Mike Brumbaugh has a simple message for his clients right now: Tell your friends.
Brumbaugh owns Venture Sports, a rental business with locations in Avon, Beaver Creek and Vail. While parking lots have been filling fast and grandstands have been full for races during the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, Brumbaugh said his business is a little soft right now.
“We had guests skiing in Vail today, and they came back saying they had the mountain to themselves,” Brumbaugh said.
In Beaver Creek, less than 5 percent of the resort is closed to skiers for the races.
As you’d expect, Beaver Creek Village is beyond bustling. Reached at 5 p.m. on a Friday, Coyote Cafe general manager Buzz Busby said the restaurant, and the village beyond, has been quite busy.
“It’s been really interesting,” Busby said. “We didn’t really know what to expect, whether we’d be as busy as we are during the (annual December Birds of Prey races) for two solid weeks.”
‘IT’S BEEN FANTASTIC’
The reality, Busby said, is that the restaurant fills up just before and after the mid-day races, then gets busy again for happy hour and dinner. Even the nightlife in the village has been pretty active, Busby said. That’s been something of a surprise, given the nightly concerts in Vail and afternoon entertainment in Avon.
The Coyote has brought in DJs for a few nights, which has been helpful, Busby said.
“Overall, it’s been fantastic,” he said.
Since hotels are housing ski teams and media right now, Busby acknowledged that some families may have stayed home during the Championships, but the activity from the teams and others is keeping the village very busy right now.
A lot of those people appear to be local residents.
“There are a lot of people on the buses, but there are a lot of Colorado (license) plates in the lots,” Brumbaugh said.
Noting that some people believed the valley would see a lot of European guests, Brumbaugh said that doesn’t seem to have happened.
Bart Cuomo of Vail Realty said he’s seen a lot of people he knows — and their kids — at the events he’s attended.
“And I couldn’t get over the amount of cars I saw in Avon,” he added.
‘IT’S NOT A WINNER’
But, like real estate, location seems to be important in how businesses are faring so far.
In Lionshead, Montauk Seafood Grill co-owner Tom Ludwig said he’s not a fan of the World Championships.
“The only people in town right now are teams and sponsors,” Ludwig said, adding that Montauk isn’t really big enough to handle groups that big. As a result, his business is off, and significantly.
“It’s just like 1999,” he said. “For me, it’s not a winner.”
‘GOOD, BUT NOT CRAZY’
Even in Solaris, home of virtually all of the evening activities for the Championships, business is bustling, but not extreme.
“I’d say we’re somewhere between the holidays and a regular week in this part of February,” Yeti’s Grind co-owner Tara Picklo said.
Picklo said her coffee shop hasn’t been as busy as during the GoPro Mountain Games, or even the USA Pro Challenge cycling event in the summer.
“It’s good, but not crazy,” Picklo said. “That’s actually fine, because to string two weeks together like that could be really hard.”
Tim Parker of Gore Creek Properties, a property management company, said Vail was “empty” Friday afternoon. And, he added, several potential clients have told him they’d prefer to come after the Championships. Meanwhile, there are condos and hotel rooms available.
“It’s just impossible to explain to people they can come and have a great time,” Parker said.
Of course, how busy a business might be can depend on what that business sells.
At West Vail Liquor Mart, manager Chip Bartsch said that shop has stayed pretty busy through the first week of the Championships.
“Nights have been a little slower because of the concerts,” Bartsch said. “But we’ve gotten some big special orders, from the teams. We’ve had orders for a lot of booze for cooking.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.