Economy hurts hotel bookings |

Economy hurts hotel bookings

Matt Zalaznick
Dominique TaylorFall shows its true colors through an aspen grove on Bighorn Creek Trail in East Vail.

The problems on Wall Street appear to be trickling down to Bridge Street. A number of large Vail hotels are reporting slower than normal bookings. Bookings for Vail Resorts-owned and managed hotels such as the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the Lodge at Vail, the Pines Lodge and the Osprey in Beaver Creek are down 17.7 percent in terms of room nights for the season compared with the same time last year, said CEO Rob Katz in a recent earnings report last week. But, to date, those bookings are only 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bookings for the season, based on historical trends, Katz said.What we dont know is whether people are not actually going to book or whether theyre going to be booking closer in to when they take their vacations, Katz said during an appearance on CNBCs Mad Money with Jim Cramer.Matthew Martinucci, regional director of sales and marketing for the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, said the 292-room hotel isnt meeting expectations for the coming winter.Were definitely not where wed like to be, but we seem to be a little better than where the market as a whole is, he said.The hotel is running promotions such as a fourth night free when you book three nights to attract Front Range visitors, Martinucci said.

Searchers last week discovered the small plane in which part-time Beaver Creek resident and global adventurer Steve Fossett disappeared more than a year ago. Searchers also found human remains that are being tested. The hunt for the plane began after a hiker in Californias Sierra Nevada found Fossetts pilot license and other documents. Fossett, a part-time Beaver Creek resident, disappeared Sept. 3, 2007, after taking off in a single-engine plane borrowed from a Nevada ranch owned by hotel magnate Barron Hilton.Fossett held 116 world records for endeavors in airplanes, balloons, sailboats and gliders. He swam across the English Channel, raced a car for 24 hours straight, did the Ironman Triathlon, skied from Aspen to Vail and completed the Iditarod dogsled race.In 2005, he became the first person to fly a plane solo around the world without stopping or refueling, covering 23,000 miles in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer jet.In Eagle County, Fossett was a founding member of the Youth Foundation, a nonprofit that supports kids.

The number of active Democratic voters is almost equal to the number of registered Republicans.As of last Friday afternoon, there were 6,331 Democrats registered in Eagle County compared to 6,402 Republicans, a difference of 71 voters, County Clerk Teak Simonton said. A week earlier, the difference was about 150 voters; three weeks ago, it was almost 200, she said.The largest bloc 8,894 voters remains unaffiliated, she said.Randy Milhoan, chairman of the Eagle County Republican Party, said hes not surprised.Its a trend because people are upset about the war they dont think the war should be going on, Milhoan said. I disagree. I think this war was worth the fight and will be worth the fight.I think, also, a lot of people want some kind of change regardless of whether its good or not. Debbie Marquez, a longtime local Democratic Party leader who was a delegate to this years national convention in Denver, said the Republican Party is losing support because people are excited about Barack Obama and Mark Udall, Colorados Democratic U.S. Senate candidate.I think people are dissatisfied with the Republicans, she said. Since Bush has been in office, look where our economy is. And there are still people dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.The Republicans really took our country to a place I never thought it would be.

The four candidates for Eagle County commissioner have raised more than $80,000 for their campaigns. Incumbent Peter Runyon faces a challenge from former commissioner Dick Gustafson for the upvalley seat, while former Avon Town Councilwoman Debbie Buckley is battling former Eagle Mayor Jon Stavney for the midvalley seat being vacated by term-limited Arn Menconi. The candidates have gotten donations large and small, ranging from $20 to $2,000. Runyon was in the lead as of last week, having received about $23,600 from 59 contributors, including two prominent Republicans Avon Mayor Ron Wolfe and Gypsum Town Councilman Tom Edwards.Republican Debbie Buckley is a close second, raising more than $22,550 from 75 contributors. Stavney has raised almost $22,000 from 57 contributors, while Gustafson has raised almost $12,200 from 28 contributors. Gustafson said the races have changed considerably since he ran in the 1980s and early 1990s.

A diverse group of residents, water managers, environmentalists, conservation advocates and government officials from several river basins across the state have begun regular roundtable meetings to discuss how they can ensure that Colorado wont run out of water.This collective, called the Interbasin Compact Committee, foresees a gradual shuffle of water use over the next 50 years to meet the drastic changes in demand.This will be a transfer from Colorados farms and ranches to Colorados fast-growing cities and industries. Conservation also will play a big role as mining is replaced with more modern activities such as kayaking and fly fishing.We have to stretch the supplies the first step is definitely conservation, efficiency and reusing water, just to see how far we can stretch those resources, said Eric Hecox, of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. That is going to be the first step, and a very important step, but it wont be enough to get us there.The committee will eventually create and agree upon a 50-year visionary document outlining a master plan for water use in the state. The plan wont become law but should carry weight with election officials and other policymakers, Hecox said.

Both candidates running to represent Eagle County in the state Senate have asked for an investigation of gas prices in the High Country. Democrat Ken Brenner made the request in August and the move was followed by Republican Rep. Al White last week. Both candidates said they want more protections for consumers. White said he wanted to know if gas prices are being fixed in seven northwest Colorado counties, include Eagle County. A spokesman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said more evidence is needed before an investigation begins.

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