New events ﬁll this year’s summer calendar
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Telluride has so filled its summer calendar with festivals and events there’s now an informal “nothing festival,” mostly aimed at locals. And even it draws tourists.
The Vail Valley hasn’t hit that level of summer saturation yet, but the effort continues.
While the short summer season already has tourist-drawing events from the Vail Lacrosse Shootout to the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival and more, winter occupancy in Vail accounts for about 75 percent of the town’s room nights, so there’s still room for more summer business.
This year, several big, new events are expected to draw thousands of people to the valley. The biggest among them are athletic events, something the Vail Valley Partnership has focused its sales efforts on for the past few years.
Partnership Executive Director Chris Romer said the athletic events have the potential to affect summer occupancy in a good way.
The “Tough Mudder” trail-running series coming to Beaver Creek on June 25 and 26 is expected to bring as many as 5,000 people per day, Romer said. A lot of those people will spend at least one night in the valley.
The Diva Half Marathon, set to run in Vail in August, is another big draw, Romer said.
Also in June, the annual Ride the Rockies cycling tour of the high country will hold an overnight stop in the valley for the first time in more than 10 years. Headquarters will be Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. Many of the roughly 2,400 participants will camp, but many will book a room.
People in this year’s Ride the Rockies also will find a welcome of food and gear vendors, along with an evening of entertainment in Edwards, with the idea of drawing a few of those folks back with their friends and families.
The biggest of the participant-centered events, though, is “The Show,” a youth baseball tournament expected to bring about 300 teams and their families to the valley the last week of July and first week of August. That event is expected to book nearly 2,000 rooms per night while it’s in the valley.
Professional cycling comes to the valley Aug. 25 and 26 when the USA Pro Cycling tour makes a two-night stop in the valley. That event is expected to draw more spectators than participants and draw them at a perfect time – the middle of the week in late August, when many families’ kids are already in school.
Those events are starting to show up as hotel bookings, especially in Beaver Creek. Romer said it’s impossible to know which bookings are for events and which are for corporate meetings – which are also starting to come back.
“But the difference is events,” Romer said. “When people know they have a reason to come, they make reservations.”
While events are bringing customers to the valley, that market is somewhat limited.
“The proliferation of summer events has diminishing returns at some point – Vail isn’t alone in this,” said Ralf Garrison, of the Mountain Travel Research Program, a Denver-area consulting company that tracks lodging in mountain resorts.
But, while there are only so many events and only a limited number of days on the summer calendar, Romer said he believes the valley is on the right track.
“Our group and meeting business is up about 20 percent from last year, and that’s hugely important to what we are,” Romer said. “With that and the new events, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be optimistic about this season.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@
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