Has snowpack finally hit Vail Valley tourist numbers?
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – After a strong opening to the ski season, the light snowpack may finally be having an effect on who’s coming to the Vail Valley. While some local businesses reported strong activity over the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday weekend, others said this holiday was just so-so.
“We were definitely down from last year,” said Dave Chapin, a partner in Vendetta’s restaurant in Vail Village. “I think the lack of terrain is what’s hurting us.”
Chapin was quick to add that tourists coming to Vail seem to be enjoying what snow there is. But, he said, Front Range skiers seemed the missing part of the most recent holiday crowd.
Chapin said a combination of holiday weekend pass restrictions and the fact Vail’s Back Bowls remain closed seem to have kept at least some visitors at home.
The story was similar at Ski Butlers, a Utah-based ski rental delivery business with an Avon location.
“It was a mediocre weekend,” Avon general manager Matt Bodenchuck said. “We didn’t have as many deliveries as we did last year.”
The Vail Valley Jet Center last week reported that its holiday weekend business was down from the year before, too.
But snow last week seemed to help some businesses.
Bodenchuck said Ski Butlers started getting new orders for rental packages about the middle of last week.
At Venture Sports in Avon, owner Mike Brumbaugh said his shop’s rental reservations were lagging behind last year, but the weekend numbers were boosted by a sudden flood of drop-in business.
“We actually had to stay open another 45 minutes Saturday,” Brumbaugh said.
Business was bustling at other places in the valley, too.
Mountainside at Beaver Creek, Coyote Cafe manager Heather Johannsen said that restaurant was “extremely busy” over the holiday. That may have been due to a couple of things – a combination of limited snowpack and football playoffs.
“We had more people in here longer than on most days,” Johannsen said.
At Vista restaurant in Arrowhead, co-owner Janine Glennon said Saturday’s football games may have kept a few people in front of TVs elsewhere. But, combined with an “incredible” Friday night, the weekend overall turned out to be a “decent” one, Glennon said.
In Vail, Matt Morgan of Sweet Basil said that restaurant had a “good” weekend, but added that he isn’t sure how big an impact the King holiday really has on his business, especially compared to Presidents Day weekend in February.
“It’s hard to tell how much of a push we get from this weekend,” Morgan said. “This may be more of a Front Range holiday.”
But Morgan said, his out-of-state clients keep coming.
“We really haven’t seen people cancel out (of reservations),” Morgan said.
But, while people are still coming, it looks as if more snow will bring more people, whether there’s a Monday holiday or not.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.
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