Condo rentals not seeing Championships boost
What’s out there?
A quick look at condo units available in several prices ranges on http://www.vrbo.com for Feb. 9 — 12. The search was limited to three-bedroom units.
• $250-$375/night: 21
• $375-$500/night: 34
• $500 or more: 58
EAGLE COUNTY — Michael Connolly was in the valley for the 1989 and 1999 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. It’s no surprise to him that there’s been no spike in vacation condo rentals for this year’s edition of the World Championships.
Connolly today works for Triumph Mountain Properties, which manages a number of vacation condos in the valley. Connolly said the winter so far has been a good one. Reservations from mid-February through just about the end of the ski season are also pacing well ahead of 2014. But the first two weeks of February? That’s a different story.
“It’s actually exactly what we expected,” Connolly said. “The first two weeks of February are (historically) kind of a lull until Presidents weekend.”
While Connolly and his team expected a relatively soft first half of February, they had to do quite a lot of talking to unit owners, letting them know that the Championships were unlikely to provide a bonanza of potential clients eager to pay very high rates.
Connolly said Triumph has turned down potential clients looking to cash in on the Championships. The last such call came just last week.
“In some cases it’s been an uphill battle, managing owner expectations,” Connolly said.
Part of managing those expectations was the reality of just who’s coming to this year’s Championships. While ski racing is a big-time sport in Europe, Connolly said not many families are actually making the trip, for a few reasons.
One of which is coming to the U.S. has become more expensive for people who measure their money in Euros. That currency has weakened against the dollar recently, making what would already be an expensive trip even more costly.
Of the property managers interviewed for this story, only one, Bart Cuomo of Vail Realty, said his company had any significant business from Europe — about 20 units rented to guests from Sweden.
Without an influx of European visitors, that leaves this country as the target market, and the fact is that ski racing isn’t a big-time sport here.
Tim Parker of Gore Creek Properties said this year’s World Championships are following the same patterns he’s seen first-hand at the Summer Olympics in London and Sydney.
Parker, a native of England, said the London games in 2012 generated plenty of buzz, but not as much business as expected.
As a result, Gore Creek Properties’ booking sheet for the first half of February this year is almost identical to the numbers for the same period in 2014.
“We never expected to see (a spike),” Parker said.
On the other hand, Parker said his company has increased its rate this season, but not for the Championships.
“For the last seven years we haven’t raised prices, but we did this year,” Parker said.
That period, of course, coincides with a prolonged weak period for the national economy.
Rates are trending up in the valley’s lodging industry in general, but Connolly said guests renting condos are looking for something a little different than those who book hotel rooms.
People booking condos often are traveling with families, or extended families, Connolly said.
“What our clients are after is the privacy of residential units, someplace they can sit down to a meal together … it’s a different experience,” he said.
While condo rentals may be a bit soft during the Championships, rentals will shoot back up, and soon.
“The rest of the season is really bright,” Cuomo said. “And to tell the truth, our biggest event draw is the U.S. Open (Snowboard Championships).”
But, Cuomo, Parker and Connolly all agreed that the benefits of these Championships may be felt in the future.
“People who are here now are raving about the snow,” he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.