Good Vail snow means good business |

Good Vail snow means good business

NWS Opening Day Biz DT 11-22-10

VAIL, Colorado – Great early-season snow helped draw healthy but not overwhelming crowds to Vail Village last weekend.

Local restaurants reported brisk business, but the Vail Village parking structure didn’t fill, and lodges weren’t particularly busy.

But that’s pretty normal for an opening weekend.

“It was mostly locals from what I saw,” said Steve Kaufman, owner of the Tap Room in Vail Village. “The bus stops were packed, but I thought there’d be more cars in the parking structure. … I don’t think the Denver folks made it up.”

Vail Public Works Director Greg Hall acknowleged that opening weekend was “not eventful” for the parking structures. But there were more people parking this year than in 2009, he said.

At the Mountain Haus at the base of Bridge Street, general manager Steve Hawkins said opening weekend is never a big one for that lodge. In fact, he said, walk-in traffic from the bad roads led to more bookings than skiing did.

Again, though, that’s not unusual.

For an opening weekend, it’s mostly bars, restaurants and ski shops that benefit.

Mark Davidson at the American Ski Exchange on Wall Street said that shop was bustling, if not “overly busy” over the weekend.

“We had quite a few regular visitors doing their rentals for the season,” Davidson said. “But there was definitely a good vibe in the village. There was plenty of snow, and there’s more coming.”

While business is building, though, Kaufman said his place had a good weekend.

“Last year, there was no snow,” he said. “This year, we had snow, so we had people, and they were happy.”

At the Red Lion, longtime kitchen manager James Frese said that business was bustling over the weekend, too.

“It was busier than it’s been in years past,” Frese said. “We had great snow and easy access to the village, so opening weekend was great. There were families eating and apres was great.”

With Thanksgiving weekend coming, Frese said he’s looking forward to an even busier holiday weekend. He and his staff are working to prepare 200 or more turkey dinners, and they’re also working to get ready for some cold, cold weather in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. The National Weather Service has forecast a high temperature of just 12 degrees on Thanksgiving.

“When it gets cold like that families come down early,” Frese said. “We go through a lot of soups, a lot of baked potatoes.”

While Vail Village wasn’t full on the mountain’s first weekend, Kaufman said every opening day is an encouraging start.

“It really feels like opening day turns over a leaf from fall to winter,” Kaufman said. Having great snow was a real bonus.

“It doesn’t get like this very often,” he said,

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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