Vail and Beaver Creek extending ski season is welcome news to businesses
But does Vail close too early every season?
Magda King was thrilled when she heard the news that Vail Mountain would stay open an extra week this year.
King, the general manager of the Antlers Lodge in Lionshead, said her first reaction to the news was “pure joy, happiness and hope.”
King added that Tuesday’s announcement that both local ski resorts were extending their seasons was “great news after so much bad news (in the past year). We’re all getting ready to enjoy the mountain.”
King said the announcement sends “a great message to visitors — it means we’re doing something right.” That’s going to be part of the marketing message the Antlers sends to condo owners and potential guests.
At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, General Manager Herb Rackliff put numbers to the news that Beaver Creek would also be open another week in April, estimating that running the lifts an extra week could mean an 8% to 10% jump in April occupancy for the hotel. Like the Antlers, Rackliff said the Park Hyatt is preparing a marketing push for the extra week of the season.
Vail Resorts announced Tuesday that both local mountains would tack on an extra week of skiing. The season will be extended through April 11 at Beaver Creek and April 18 at Vail.
The area has received about 80 inches of snow in the last 6 weeks.
In Avon, Comfort Inn General Manager Rich ten Braak echoed the excitement among other lodges in the valley.
Season extensions are “always good news,” ten Braak said. “We’ll take anybody we can get in April.”
Brian Butts, General Manager of the Evergreen Lodge in Vail, said an extra week could perhaps allow the hotel to “make up some ground” on its seasonal revenue, particularly if conditions are good in April.
Butts noted that the Evergreen’s numbers have been “pretty good” for individual travelers. But, he added, there’s been very little group or event business, both of which are important parts of lodges’ revenue picture.
Mike Stratton of the Coyote Café in Beaver Creek agreed that another few days of skiing will be helpful.
“We think it’s great,” Stratton said. “In a year like this one, an extra week really helps.”
Other businesses aren’t as eager for another week of the season.
Ski Butlers runs its rental-delivery service from a shop in EagleVail. There, team leader Chase Simmons said that operation already has a “ramp-down” date based on the mountains’ original closing dates. But, he added, “that doesn’t mean we won’t extend, too,” adding that shutting down for the season largely depends on demand and the number of employees on hand.
Too late to help?
At the Montauk and El Segundo restaurants, owner Cameron Douglas said the news of the season extensions may have come too late to alter postseason plans.
“We plan as far in advance as we can,” Douglas said. “Half the staff already has trips booked,” adding that postseason maintenance and cleaning has already been scheduled. It would be a “daunting task” to gear up to stay open another week, he added.
Douglas said he may just give his staff that week to get up on the mountain. In the absence of season-ending events, people may just want to get up, ski, ride and enjoy themselves.
Jim Pavelich owns Avon’s Northside Kitchen and Southside Benderz, as well as Vail’s Northside Kitchen Grab & Go. All those locations will be open, Pavelich said. But, he added, the season extension is part of a long-running question he’s had about mountain operations.
Pavelich said he’s been skiing Vail for about 50 years now, adding there’s “usually still great skiing at Vail” well into May.
“I can’t understand why we artificially close early, and then re-open when it’s too late for out of state visitors to make plans,” Pavelich said.
“People in other states are under the impression the ski areas close when there’s no snow left,” Pavelich added. “That means they’re less likely to come the week before (closing week).”
According to a March 9 announcement from Vail Resorts:
Beaver Creek will now close Sunday, April 11.
Vail Mountain will now close Sunday, April 18.
Those dates could be extended, depending on conditions.