Easter visitors a treat for Vail businesses | VailDaily.com

Easter visitors a treat for Vail businesses

Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyMike Curran, of Denver, laces up his snowboard boots at his car on the Frontage Road where he and his friends parked after both Vail parking garages filled up early Saturday

VAIL – Easter was a holiday weekend to celebrate for Vail businesses, thanks in good measure to traditional visitors from south of the border.

“It would have really been a dud without the people from Mexico City,” Montauk restaurant owner Tom Ludwig said. With the traditional influx of tourists from Mexico and South America, Ludwig said his place was busy all weekend.

“We were actually busier than I expected,” Ludwig said. In fact, at this point, Ludwig is comparing numbers to the 2007-08 ski season, not the last one.

“There’s no comparison of this year to last,” he said.

In Vail Village, Golden Bear manager Darcy Zimmerman said that store had a solid weekend, too.

“We were busy, and folks were buying,” Zimmerman said. “It’s been good seeing the people out and about in the village.”

Zimmerman said the Golden Bear’s ski season was better than the last one.

At the base of Bridge Street, Buzz’s Ski Shop owner Buzz Schleper said his shop was nearly rented out over the weekend.

But rentals aren’t sales.

Schleper said his store’s snowboard sales have been pretty solid over the season, but ski sales have lagged.

“It seems like people aren’t as willing to buy high-ticket items,” Schleper said. “Between the recession and the marginal snow early, it just seemed like people were waiting for the deep discounts.”

People seem like they’re waiting to hit the “enter” button for reservations, too.

At the Sitzmark Lodge, general manager Jeanne Fritch said the hotel was virtually full for the holiday weekend.

“But if you’d called to ask about Easter two weeks ago, I’d have said we have openings,” Fritch said.

While small hotels like the Sitzmark have for years depended on reservations made months in advance, the trend toward last-minute bookings that stared early in this economic slump seems to have taken hold.

Fritch said she’s just now starting to get some last-minute reservations for the last two weekends of the ski season, and there are rooms available. And, based on last year, Fritch said some of those reservations may come from people coming to Spring Back to Vail events.

“Those concerts really helped us last year,” she said.

While Vail was busy for the holiday weekend, Zimmerman said she’s seen a difference from seasons past.

“It seems like Fridays and Saturdays are the busy days now,” Zimmerman said. “Sundays aren’t as busy as they were.”

Vail Parking Manager Mike Rose has seen the same thing. Rose said the town has lifted Sunday restrictions for county residents who hold value passes for the town’s parking structures.

“It seems like people are coming in earlier and leaving earlier,” Rose said.

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

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