Record profit, lowered expectations
Vail – At the same time Vail Resorts was announcing record profits last week, the company also was scaling back financial expectations for next ski season because of the country’s economic troubles.
Vail Resorts made nearly $103 million in fiscal 2008, compared to about $61 million last year.
“We have extraordinary world-class resorts and a unique customer demographic, but we are certainly not immune to the dramatic challenges facing the economy today,” said Chief Financial Officer Jeff Jones.
The company expects profits of $60 million to $76 million next year, it said in its year-end earnings conference call.
The company also said Colorado season pass sales are down 8.4 percent compared to last year and bookings for hotel rooms for the upcoming seasons are down 17.7 percent.
“We have certainly begun to see the impact of the current economic softness during these unprecedented times,” CEO Rob Katz said.
Resort communities are “more resilient” than other places, Katz said, but the economy could affect the timing of real estate projects. Vail Resorts might be more inclined to hold on to land at the base of ski resorts rather than push forward with projects.
Avon – The roof of the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon is made of recycled tire rubber, and the employee uniforms are made of seaweed.
There are VIP parking spaces for guests driving hybrids. More than half the construction waste in the $500 million resort was recycled or salvaged.
The drywall was bought downvalley in Gypsum. There will be recycling stations for guests on every floor. Big windows fill rooms with daylight and cut down on electricity use.
The Westin Riverfront, which opened in Avon on Thursday, is on track to become the first luxury resort in Colorado to be certified by Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, said Julie Dunn, spokeswoman for the Westin.
LEED requires builders to meet strict environmental and efficiency standards, and the Westin should know in three months if it makes the cut.
The Westin has 210 guest rooms, ranging from studios to three-bedroom condos. The rooms feature kitchens, gas fireplaces, LCD flat screen televisions and desks with wireless Internet access.
Spa Anjali has more than 23,000 square feet of space, including work-out rooms, personal trainers, yoga and spinning classes. And Restaurant Avondale’s menu features seasonal fare and local ingredients.
There’s also a 25-meter lap pool, treated with saltwater instead of chlorine.
Eagle County – Work is underway in an effort to make stretches of the Eagle River in Minturn and Edwards look more like they did 100 years ago before agricultural and development damaged the waterway.
That means you can expect to see construction crews and heavy equipment actually in the river, moving rocks and dirt.
Back in the 1800s, trees used to line the flat section of river between the Edwards Spur Road Bridge and the Hillcrest Drive bridge, which was a perfect place for grazing. That weakened the river banks and slowly allowed silt to fall in the river, smothering insects and providing a breeding ground for the trout-killing whirling disease.
The shallowness, along with the absence of trees on the river’s edge, leads to high water temperatures and low amounts of dissolved oxygen, which aren’t good for trout.
About $1.5 million has been raised to make this area deeper, cooler and faster running.
In Minturn, development had a similar effect. As homes and businesses were built near the water’s edge decades ago, the river was reshaped and deformed, creating high and unstable river banks that couldn’t hold plant roots.
The restoration area is roughly from the Interstate 70 westbound bridge to the Bellum Bridge in Minturn, about 1.6 miles.
Predictions of the future size of Eagle County in hand, government officials are starting to plan how to manage the coming growth.
The county wants to know how much providing services like child care, road work and public health will cost ” and how those costs can be met ” in the coming years.
The county also wants to grant the wishes of voters who have said in a recent county survey that spaces between the valley’s towns should remain.
Planners also have estimated that each new resident costs the county about $1,200.
The next step will be to provide information to town governments and discuss working together.
“What we’ve put out on the table is that if you look at the future, there’s going to be erosion in quality of life because there’s not enough dollars for a community going from a rural to an urban community,” County Commissioner Arn Menconi said. “For me there’s a sense of urgency for this.”
Eagle – Amid rumors of dozens of Republican campaign signs being taken down in and around Eagle, only the removal of one could be confirmed.
The town of Eagle said it took down one sign that was on private property after sending out an e-mail warning Democrats and Republicans that local sign codes would be enforced.
“The placement of signs can cause safety issues at intersections due to the volume of signs,” Eagle Town Planner Bill Gray said.
The owners of the removed sign said they hadn’t been aware it was too large. The town admitted it didn’t wait the usual 10 days before removing it.
Cordillera – Residents in Cordillera saying they’re paying taxes to the downvalley ambulance district even though it doesn’t provide them any service.
The residents are served by the upvalley service, and want to pay that district’s lower taxes.
The residents, however, have not been able to reach an agreement with the downvalley Western Eagle County Ambulance District, which wants to study the issue before making any changes.
The district says the study would cost $1,500 per property.
Cordillera residents have appealed to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners for help.
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Are we seeing more bears because there are more bears on the valley floor, or because we’re all spending more time at home? It could be a bit of both.