Sunday skiers’ vehicles line frontage road
By the numbers
19: Inches of snow at Vail between Jan. 16 and Jan. 18
8: Inches of snow at Beaver Creek for the same period.
969: Cars parked on Vail’s frontage road Jan. 17.
27,500: Riders on town of Vail buses Jan. 17.
EAGLE COUNTY — Snow is a good thing this time of year. Combine snow with a holiday weekend, and the result is a busy Vail Valley.
Snow in the weekend forecast led to a steady stream of day skiers. Early news of 15 inches of fresh powder Sunday morning brought even more. That stream was steady enough to quickly fill Vail’s roughly 2,500 available spaces at the town’s two public parking structures and spill traffic over onto the town’s frontage roads.
While the structures were filled every day of the weekend, Sunday’s traffic was particularly heavy. Town officials counted 969 cars parked along the frontage roads.
“We had people coming in to ask if they could pay to park in our lot,” said Robert Miner, of the Holiday Inn in West Vail. Miner said many skiers were willing to pay the hotel’s $25 overnight parking rate for a day in the powder.
And that powder was, in a word, epic.
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“I was telling clients that we haven’t had this kind of powder day in at least 10 years, especially in the Back Bowls,” Buzz’s Boards owner Buzz Schleper said.
Schleper said his shop was “super busy” over the weekend, even considering that it was a holiday weekend.
“The timing of this snowstorm just brought everybody out,” he said.
TRACKING LIFT LINES
While lift lines were apparent, those lines seemed to move fairly quickly. And there weren’t lift lines everywhere.
Miner said he usually rises early to get an hour of skiing in before starting his work day. For those days, Miner said he’s been using Vail Resorts’ new Epic Mix Time feature on its app. For Sunday skiers, the app functioned just as advertised, Miner said.
“The places where (the app) said there was a 20-minute wait, there was a wait,” Miner said. “But the places it said there was a zero-minute wait there were no lines.”
While the resort was busy, Cabal Yarne, owner of the Arriesgado clothing store in Lionshead Village, said business there was “pretty strong” but not on par with the holiday weekend in 2015. On the other hand, Yarne said January 2015 was the best ever for that store.
“I think the stronger dollar may be affecting foreign customers,” Yarne said, adding that the Arriesgado stores in Keystone and Denver are doing strong business this month.
MEANWHILE AT BEAVER CREEK
While Vail received the bulk of the weekend’s snow, life was busy in Avon and Beaver Creek, too.
Emily Kulpa, the morning manager at the Northside Coffee & Kitchen in Avon, said Saturday at the usually bustling cafe wasn’t as strong as it usually is. Sunday and Monday, though, were “crazy, crazy” busy, Kulpa said.
Rich ten Braak, the general manager at the Comfort Inn in Avon, said that hotel was nearly full over the weekend, including a number of Sunday-night guests.
“I saw a lot of people loading gear into minivans this morning,” ten Braak said.
Some of those families may have enjoyed an extra night in the valley after a day in the powder, ten Braak said.
“We do get some of the last-minute guests,” he said.
In Vail, Miner said Monday-morning checkout was busy, but he didn’t have numbers.
And, while Beaver Creek didn’t get the amount of snow that fell at Vail, that resort was bustling over the holiday weekend, too.
“It was a good weekend — it was pretty much on par with last year,” said Buzz Busby, Coyote Cafe general manager.
While the snow in Vail had an effect on business at Beaver Creek, Busby said skiers there still had great conditions — the resort reported 15 inches of new snow over the past seven days. And, Busby said, a quick walk through Beaver Creek Village on Monday showed many restaurants looking as busy as they would on a normal Saturday.
That business reflects the valley’s primary winter attraction: snow.
“It’s been a great winter so far,” Busby said.
In Vail, Schleper agreed that this winter so far has been a good one.
“The snow’s been timely so far, even though we haven’t had a big storm until this weekend,” he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.