Is year ’round tourism in the Vail Valley possible?
Vail, CO, Colorado
It’s overcast as I write this on Friday. In the previous 10 days, we’ve experienced brilliant sun, clouds, rain, snow, wind, dust and, maybe, falling tadpoles.
Bicycles, motorcycles and golf clubs once eagerly uncovered now sit, forlorn, waiting for the return of sunshine and warmth. Folks all over the valley are sick of the past couple of weeks of weather, hoping for the return of the magnificent climate we boast most of the time.
All of which is a roundabout way to get to this week’s burning question: Who’s loony
enough to believe we can have a year ’round economy?
The folks at the Vail Valley Partnership, bless their hearts, are pushing an initiative called “Vail 365,” an effort to get business owners around the ski hills to stay open for those six to 10 fallow weeks between Easter and Memorial Day.
There’s more to Vail and Beaver Creek in these weeks than there used to be, to be sure. But Bridge Street and Beaver Creek Village are pretty darned quiet this time of year. And, frankly, with good reason.
The hyper-bustle of ski season is hard on people. Throw in a winter of abundant (some might say nearly-incessant) snow, and the post-season pull of beaches and deserts is awfully hard to resist. And a lot of business owners still take the opportunity to take a few deep breaths before the increasingly busy summer season.
I haven’t kept count of people over the years who have told me it’s cheaper to lock the doors for at least a few weeks than stay open through a sluggish time for tourists, but it’s a lot.
Which brings us back to weather.
While people are moaning louder lately about the gray, drippy skies ” due, no doubt, to the long winter just past ” the fact is that our May weather is often a mixed bag, with our usual crystal-blue skies only part of that mix.
Winter, summer and fall all have wonderful, undeniable charms. In fact, the period between roughly Labor Day and Halloween is a relatively untapped time to visit that a lot of people would love.
But our spring is another story. It’s too muddy to bike a lot of the popular trails and often too windy to golf at the downvalley courses that are open.
We have great people whose job it is to sell our valley to the rest of the world, and they’re very good at it. But even if some folks accept our invitation for a May visit, will they come back if they catch weather like we’ve had the last couple of weeks?
That would be an even tougher sell.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott N. Miller writes about valley business every Saturday. You can reach him at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.