Holiday business brisk in Vail Valley |

Holiday business brisk in Vail Valley

Scott N. Millersmiller@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyScott Rella does the finishing touches to his "are you listening" ice sculpture on Vail's Gore Creek Promenade in Vail Village. The official lighting ceremony was held this weekend

VAIL, Colorado – The national economy remains shaky, but the Colorado’s Vail Valley was buzzing over the three-day Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend.”We were off the hook busy,” Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh said. “We had a lot of two- and three-day rentals and did a lot of tuning.”In Vail, Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa general manager Frank Johnson said this year’s holiday weekend was quite a bit better than last year, to the tune of a 13 percent bump over last year’s numbers.Johnson said the numbers for January so far are ahead of last year, at the hotel, the Terra Bistro restaurant and at the hotel’s spa.The restaurant numbers are being fueled, at least in part, by people deciding to take advantage of the bar menu at Terra Bistro.”We’ve had that for two years now, and it’s really helped sales,” Johnson said. “It gives us an opportunity to turn over seats a little quicker.”A bar menu has also given a boost to another Vail Village restaurant, Larkspur. After noting that Larkspur was “busy” all weekend, restaurant spokeswoman Sue Barham gave at least some credit to a bar menu the restaurant unveiled this ski season.”People can eat at Larkspur and it’s dramatically less costly than eating a full meal,” Barham said. “People can come in for a flank steak and a glass of wine.”The ski season bar menu is an extension of something Larkspur does in the summer, Barham said. “We wanted to offer people a good value in the winter, too.”The success of bar menus at restaurants is part of what seems like a new habit among visitors – looking for value. That may have been why the Bag & Pack Shop in Vail Village had a lot of lookers, but relatively few buyers.”I saw a lot of people on the streets, but not many shopping bags,” Mike French of the Bag & Pack Shop said. There were plenty of people in the store, too, he said, but only between about 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.”We had tons of people in the store then,” he said. “But nobody was really buying. It seems like people are making due with their gear from the year before right now.”Still, there were plenty of people in town.”I had to run an errand on Bridge Street about 4 (p.m.) Sunday, and I was dodging people the whole way,” French said.Johnson said the Vail Lodge & Spa is running a ahead of last year for advance reservations in January and March, but a little behind for February.”With any luck with our snow, we might turn this into a pretty good year after all,” Johnson said.Everyone knows the valley needs fresh snow, and lots of it, but Barham had kudos for Vail Resorts’ grooming crews for doing the best they can with the resources they have.”I went up over the weekend, and the conditions weren’t bad at all,” she said.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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