Growth brings more challenges for Vail businesses
Since its inception in 1962, Vail has experienced many exciting changes and lots of growth. At Vail’s 45th Reunion last September, many members long time locals reminisced about the town and contemplated its future. Now with the most recent development, the Arrabelle at Vail Square, there is definitely a change in the air, and it is a time to contemplate the future of the business community with this ever-changing town. The Arrabelle has transformed the Lionshead mall into a far more shopper-friendly and welcoming area than before. It is a spectacular view coming down Bwana under the gondola. Just walking through the maze of archways with the beautiful ice rink in the middle is marvelous. With discussions of new projects being an almost daily occurrence in Vail, the Arrabelle is a testament of what great things can be accomplished by redevelopment of old areas. It seems welcoming to any visitor who passes by and provides Lionshead with a new sense of character. But the Arrabelle is another challenge to Vail businesses and how they can adjust to ever changing consumer tastes and desires. The Lionshead shopping experience is now completely different than that in Vail Village. The vast majority of businesses in Lionshead are now sporting-goods merchants, with a smattering of other businesses, most of which are owned by big corporations. In Vail Village there seems a bigger variety of business, independent owners, and everything under the sun. So this begs the question: is it possible to create a cohesive experience for the customer in Vail as a whole?With ever-increasing rents, it is getting harder to not only pay rent but to make profits. The ski town that once was a small Mecca to local ski bums is now becoming a corporate center of commerce with shopping the main rival to skiing as a form of recreation. Will this create divisions within the town? Will Vail Village become the only place a visitor to Vail can avoid the high-end prices, as Arrabelle hotel rooms are expected to be over $1,000 a night in the winter? The Vail Chamber & Business Association is interested in continuing to facilitate the discussion on this challenging topic. Lourdes Ferzacca is president of the Vail Chamber & Business Association Board of Directors.