Events fill beds in Vail Valley’s slack times
EAGLE COUNTY – Rooms reservations are usually easy to get at The Charter at Beaver Creek this time of year. Except when the soccer kids come to town.
The Charter is nearly full for the first weekend of October, and the staff is gearing up for a flood of soccer players and their families who’ve come to the valley for the annual Vail Valley Cup (formerly the Vail Challenge Cup).
The tournament – which doubles as the main fundraiser for the Vail Valley Soccer Club – will this year bring nearly 80 teams of players between 11 and 14 years old. There are 20 players on a team. If every player brings one other person, that brings the weekend to more than 3,000 people who need meals, rooms, ice cream and Gatorade.
Even if teams pack coolers full of snacks and drinks, that many people in the valley for a weekend will still need a lot of food and lodging.
“We always love having the soccer kids,” said Jean Alexander, sales and marketing director for The Resort Company, which operates The Charter, as well as the Lion Square Lodge and the Montaneros Lodge in Vail. Alexander added those lodges also welcome kids for a three-weekend hockey tournament in November.
Youth and adult sports tournaments are increasingly seen as a way to bring people to resorts looking to fill rooms during their off-seasons.
Chris Romer, sales and marketing director of the Vail Valley Partnership, said tournaments like the Vail Valley Cup are a perfect example of the kind of events the valley would like to attract. They’re also great examples to show tournament organizers shopping for venues.
“We’ve got a few signature events – the soccer tournament, the (Vail Lacrosse Shootout) and a three-on-three soccer tournament in August – that we use as part of our pitch,” Romer said. “We can show people we have the infrastructure and the facilities to put on a great event.”
Romer said the tournament business is one of the fastest-growing parts of the tourism industry. He’s attended a handful of trade shows dedicated to tournaments over the last 18 months or so.
Some of that work has already paid off.
An “Irish Hurling” festival was originally set to land in Vail this year, but has been put off until Memorial Day of next year.
The point of “participatory” events like the Vail Valley Challenge fill beds during slack times. But, Romer said, tournaments are also a good way to introduce people to what the Vail Valley has to offer.
One way is with rates.
“I looked at some of the rates people can get this year and said ‘You can stay in Cordillera for that much?’ – I should book for the weekend, too,” Vail Valley Cup tournament organizer Jodi Teague said.
And, Alexander said, it’s better in September and October to have a room rented at a deep discount than to let it sit idle.
Alexander said between rates and amenities – particularly kid-friendly swimming pools – The Resort Company’s hotels attract families that come back year after year for the Vail Valley Cup.
In Edwards, Fiesta’s co-owner Debbie Marquez said she had families in August calling for reservations for the tournament weekend.
“It’s terrific for Edwards businesses,” Marquez said. “It really has a great effect at a time of year we can use it.”
But being good hosts to 3,000 people or more takes a lot of work.
There are scores of volunteers to organize, Teague said, and then there are sponsors to get on board.
“There are a lot of moving parts to something like this,” Romer said. “You need a lot of support from the community, from lodges to restaurants to stores. But the benefits from a community standpoint are huge.”
Does that mean summer soccer families will return to Vail or Beaver Creek for a ski vacation?
That’s the idea, Romer said. Alexander said the Resort Company doesn’t track families who might come back for the winter after staying for a fall weekend tournament. But, she said, the company is a big believer in tournaments.
“We really support the partnership’s efforts going after these events,” Alexander said. “It’s a great way to fill out the shoulder seasons.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.