Record snow meant better business in Vail
VAIL, Colorado – The lifts on Vail Mountain stayed open a long time this past ski season. But even at the end, Vail was still a busy place.
A record snow year brought plenty of people, and those people seemed more willing to spend money than they did last season. A quick survey of several Vail businesses showed an uptick in business or revenue, and plenty of optimism for the summer. That’s a pleasant contrast to the 2009-10 season, even if occupancy numbers were down slightly.
Jeanne Fritch, general manager of the Sitzmark Hotel in Vail Village, said that small lodge had some good weeks and some not-so-good weeks through the season. The good and bad added up to slightly fewer guests. But, Fritch added, the hotel offered fewer discounts through the season.
Occupancy was down a bit at the Vail Lodge and Spa. But general manager Frank Johnson said that this season’s guests were more likely to book a spa treatment, or have a bottle of wine with dinner at Terra Bistro.
Overall, Johnson said the hit to occupancy was about what he expected, given that Solaris, the Four Seasons and The Sebastian all opened for business this past season.
At The Sebastian – the former Vail Plaza – sales and marketing manager Annie Lynch said the hotel’s first season was an unqualified success.
“We’re ecstatic about the community’s reception to us,” Lynch said. That reception came from guests, as well as people eating and drinking at the hotel’s restaurants and lounges. That reception has been good enough that the restaurants are all staying open through the off-season.
The Sebastian got another boost in February when first lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters stayed at the hotel during a Vail vacation, Lynch said.
The new hotels, combined with the end of construction along Meadow Drive, helped Karats owner Dan Telleen have a better season.
“The Sebastian brought some Mexican families into Vail Village,” Telleen said. “I’m really happy they’re doing so well.”
Buzz’s Boards sits at the intersection of a great snow year and more-willing consumers.
“We had a great season,” store manager Neil Conroy said. “People were buying equipment, especially powder skis.”
Conroy has worked at Buzz’s for several years, and said the last weekend on the mountain was a good one – “Maybe not a lot of people for Easter, but a lot for closing weekend.”
It was a good end to a good season, he said.
“With snow comes people, and we had a lot of snow,” he said.
The positive buzz from a good winter has people looking forward to summer, too.
The Sitzmark will be the official “Teva House” during the Teva Mountain games in early June, which has Fritch excited. And Johnson said the Vail Lodge and Spa is starting to see some corporate reservations on the books.
“If the summer and conference business is coming back, it will help us in the summer and fall,” Johnson said.
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