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Teva Time in Vail

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

VAIL ” Some of the athletes may live on ramen and adrenaline, but they, and their fans, will make up at least some of Vail’s future.

This weekend’s Teva Mountain Games in Vail is expected to bring roughly 35,000 spectators to all the events. Some will camp and others will come from the Front Range to see this collection of kayakers, climbers and mountain bikers display their skills. But many are staying in hotels.

The Vail Valley Partnership, the valley’s central reservations agency, reports that occupancy for the first full weekend in June is up 20 percent over last year. Last year’s Teva events were held the last weekend in May, and valley hotel occupancy for the same period this year is down 10 percent.

“There’s really nothing else going on those weekends, so it’s a pretty clear connection,” Vail Valley Partnership Director of Marketing Chris Romer said.

A less affluent crowd

While Vail will be crowded over the weekend, it’s a different group than the throngs that pack Bridge Street and Lionshead in the winter.

Lourdes Ferzacca, who owns the upscale LaTour restaurant with her husband, Paul, said business is pretty slow during the Teva games. ZaccaZa, the couple’s family restaurant in Avon, sees a nice boost.

“We don’t benefit at all in Vail,” Ferzacca said.

A big part of that is demographics.

Joel Heath of Untraditional Marketing is a founder of the Teva Games. His company runs economic-impact studies ever three years for the event.

According to Heath’s research, household income of Teva Games is about $100,000 per year. That’s a middle-class family, but it’s far below the household income of winter visitors.

Those middle class visitors and athletes are good business for The Saloon, Andy Kaufman’s restaurant in Minturn.

“The Teva Games is our kind of crowd,” Kaufman said. “They’re not looking for anything high end.”

Business was especially brisk when there were events in the Dowd Chutes along the Eagle River near the Saloon.

“Our deck’s right on the river, so people could watch the kayakers go by,” Kaufman said. “We love having the games here.”

‘We’re still alive’

With thousands of people in town, Ferzacca loves the Teva Games, too, even if her Vail restaurant doesn’t see any business from the events.

“I’d rather have a busy town any day,” Ferzacca said. “And the fact is not every event appeals to everyone.”

Bringing people to Vail anytime is a good reminder of what lies along Gore Creek, she said.

“We encourage our staff to get out to the events,” Ferzacca said. “We have three kids, and we like taking them. It’s a good family event.”

Ferzacca lives in Eagle with her family, and said she sees a lot of her down valley neighbors at the events.

“It’s a reminder that we’re still alive and still kicking in Vail,” she said.

The events also sell Vail to a different audience than the one it usually appeals to, Heath said.

Media credentials have been sent to 180 publications, Heath said, including various climbing, kayaking and biking magazines as well as Playboy’s Netherlands edition. The games have also had a seven-page preview spread in “Urban Climber” magazine.

It’s that kind of exposure to Vail where Heath sees the long-term benefit of the games.

“The short-term boost is filling rooms and restaurants,” he said. “But we’re branding Vail as a destination for adventure sports.

“I know we’re a high demographic resort,” Heath added. “But it’s so important to fill the pipeline now with future doctors and lawyers who will come here later.”

Heath calls these people “aspirational guests,” people who won’t shop at the town’s high-end shops this weekend, but will look at the baubles through the store windows and mutter, “some day.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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