More cars but mixed results
VAIL – Plenty of snow and a three-day holiday weekend meant skiers and boarders could pursue their dreams of steep and deep.The number of skiers in town doesn’t always equate into ringing cash registers. But for certain businesses, it was a good weekend.”It was very good. It’s definitely one of the bigger weekends,” said Mick Warth, manager of Russell’s Restaurant on Bridge Street. “We were identical (in numbers) to last year.”One of the primary indicators that day skiers – as opposed to the longer-staying, freer-spending destination skiers – are in Vail is the number of cars parked on the frontage roads. When cars park on the Frontage Road, that means the 2,500 parking spaces at Vail and Lionshead are also full. Day skiers arrive, ski, eat and drink, then return home without much shopping, retailers often complain. The common denominator is the amount of snow that falls before the holiday.
“It’s definitely a snow-driven event,” said Suzanne Silverthorn, Vail’s community relations director.Saturday was the busiest day of the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, with 717 cars parked on the Frontage Road. Sunday there were 323, and Friday 168. Monday there was just a handful of cars parked on the Frontage Road. That’s more than the Frontage Road numbers last year – 462 on Saturday and 210 Sunday. “The reason people were coming here? The snow was great. The snow was great, the snow was great,” said Mike Rose, transportation director for the town of Vail. Vail and Beaver Creek both have received four or more feet of snow over the past couple of weeks.The 4-year-old record is 1,400 cars that covered the Frontage Road from West Vail to East Vail. The largest number of cars parked on the Frontage Road so far this ski season occurred Jan. 15 – a powder day – when 950 cars were counted, Rose said.
Business at retail shops like the Rucksack in Vail was actually down a bit compared to last year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, said Manager Nicole Hoffman-Ewing, who skied Vail Saturday. “It seemed crowded up there,” she said. “The snow was great.”Business during the weekend and so far during January at her store is down from last year, she said.While publicly-traded Vail Resorts refuses to release skier numbers for fear of running afoul of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regulations, Vail Mountain’s Bill Jensen hinted that business was good.”Any three-day weekend in the ski business is a great weekend,” he said.
Saturday and Sunday’s visitor totals could have been lessened by the number of people who decided to stay home to watch the National Football League playoffs, Hoffman-Ewing said.Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.orgVail, Colorado