Snow sparked ski season sales |

Snow sparked ski season sales

Shane Macomber/Daily file photo Despite the construction, business owners say last ski season's good snowfall did a lot to increase business in Vail.

VAIL ” Sales tax collections were up 9.2 percent for last ski season in Vail. For Mark Cervantes at the Apex/Holiday Inn in West Vail, this year’s snow was a huge part of that increase.

“We enjoy better numbers when we have a big snow year,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes’ hotel saw a boost from Front Range visitors, who can head to the mountains quickly when the snowfall is heavy and often aren’t looking for a high-end hotel.

“We make a perfect fit for that,” Cervantes said.

Vail and Beaver Creek both had the best snow in nine seasons at the top of their mountains.

Cervantes said his occupancy rate for the ski season hovered between 87 and 90 percent for the year, compared to 70 to 80 percent last ski season.

Cervantes, a member of the Vail Economic Advisory Council, said the increased sales tax collection is promising because some of Vail’s biggest new developments weren’t even open yet, including the Arrabelle and, for much of the season, the newly remodeled Tivoli Lodge in Vail Village.

Even in construction-heavy Lionshead, sales tax was up 3.8 percent for the ski season. Construction on the Arrabelle at Vail Square project continued in the center of Lionshead through the winter.

“If it snows, they will come,” said Tom Ludwig, an owner of Montauk Seafood Grill.

Ludwig said business at Montauk was up last ski season compared to the previous season. And construction doesn’t make as big of a dent in business in winter as it does in summer, Ludwig said.

“People are coming here for more of the aesthetics of the rivers, golf courses, trees,” he said.

But some small businesses said business was down over the ski season.

“The small ma and pa store is different,” said Robert Aikens, owner of Verbatim Booksellers in Vail Village.

Aikens said his business was down 40 percent compared to last ski season. He attributed that decrease to construction, lack of hotel rooms in Vail and other closed businesses around his store.

Verbatim is moving across Meadow Drive to a new location in the Sonnenalp building.

The town breaks the retail tax collections into subcategories. The art gallery businesses saw the biggest increase compared to last year, up 19.0 percent for the ski season. The worst compared to last year were the jewelry stores, where business was down 3.1 percent.

Sales tax is the town of Vail’s largest single source of revenue.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

Vail, Colorado

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