Snow, Epic Passes boost Vail business |

Snow, Epic Passes boost Vail business

Chris Outcalt
Vail, CO Colorado
The Epic Pass, which is new this year, offers unlimited skiing at all Vail Resorts mountains with no blackout dates.

VAIL ” Hundreds of vehicles lined the Frontage Roads in Vail, Colorado both days this weekend, and they didn’t look like rental cars to Tom Higgins, owner of American Ski Exchange.

“I think there were a lot of Epic Passes in town this weekend,” Higgins said.

A weekend storm dropped nearly two feet of snow on Vail Mountain, bringing skiers and snowboarders to the slopes and local businesses. Business managers and owners said they always count on snow to drive traffic to the area, but several credited the Epic Pass with bringing people from the Front Range to Vail.

Clark Wilkinson, retail manager at the Vail Mountain Adventure Center, said the shop had a good weekend and was full of short-term visitors.

“A lot of accessories sold ” the kind of stuff you forget in your car,” Wilkinson said.

The store is bracing for a down year, but weekend business was good enough for the shop to extend its hours to 8 p.m., Wilkinson said.

“I think the Epic Passes are bringing people,” he said.

The Epic Pass, which is new this year, offers unlimited skiing at all Vail Resorts mountains with no blackout dates.

Both the Vail Village and Lionshead garages filled up on Saturday and Sunday. About 300 vehicles parked on the frontage roads each day, said Vail Transportation Director Mike Rose.

“It was an average overflow day,” Rose said.

There could easily be 700 cars parked on the frontage roads on a busier day, Rose said. The town also lost some parking spaces because Ford Park was closed for The Fray concert on Saturday, he said.

Priya Bajkta, who works the front desk at the Holiday Inn, said the hotel got a boost from the weekend snow storm.

“We definitely did pretty well,” Bajkta said. “Specifically with the Front Rangers, they’re more on the pulse of the snow.”

Vail Cascade Managing Director Greg Pate said they had a big weekend with guests from the Front Range, too.

“That’s not unusual for this time of year,” Pate said. “A lot of the people are just watching storms and can make those short-term decisions.”

The weekend storm started dumping snow in the area on Saturday morning and rarely led up until Sunday evening. Vail reported receiving 22 inches from the two-day storm. Beaver Creek got 23 inches of snow.

Troy’s Ski Shop almost sold out of powder skis this weekend, said manager Michael VanValkenburg.

“Business was pretty awesome,” VanValkenburg said. “Everybody and their grandfather wants powder skis, it’s kind of cool.”

The weekend wasn’t as busy as some of the peak weekends in February and March, but it was good for this time of year, VanValkenburg said.

“It’s usually kind of a slower time,” he said.

VanValkenburg also credited the Epic Pass with boosting business.

“It’s all over the place,” VaValkenburg said.

Mike “Woody” Lewis, manager of The Tap Room, said business at the restaurant was steady both Saturday and Sunday, but that it’s still tough to predict how the rest of the season will be.

“I think we’ll take a little hit,” said Lewis.

Lewis is optimistic the stretch between Christmas and the new year will be busy.

“That’s one stretch you can always count on,” Lewis said.

Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at 970-748-2931 or

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