Thanksgiving business was good this year in Vail |

Thanksgiving business was good this year in Vail

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Thanksgiving has long been viewed as a kind of dress rehearsal for the busier days to come. Things seemed to go well this year.

Shops and restaurants contacted for this story reported good business, but only a few gave rave reviews to the weekend.

Like many restaurants, the Grouse Mountain Grill at Beaver Creek is always full-up on Thanksgiving – lots of people are thrilled to let trained professionals handle the cooking that day, and it’s always nice when someone else does the dishes. But Grouse Mountain co-owner Nancy Dowell said the rest of the weekend was busy, too.

“We were very happy with the weekend,” Dowell said. “And our advance reservations into the winter are strong, too.”

Overall, Dowell said this holiday was about the same as last year.

The story was similar at Rocks Modern Grill in the Beaver Creek Lodge. Sous chef Chad Barbier said the hotel was full over the weekend, the restaurant stayed consistently busy and the skiing was pretty good, at least for those who made their runs in the mornings.

“It was nice,” Barbier said, adding that the parking lots at the resort itself were full over the weekend, with people at the entry gates making sure motorists headed up the hill had parking available at their destinations.

While parking near Beaver Creek’s slopes was tight, there was plenty of parking available in Vail. Mike Rose, who manages the town’s parking and transit, said neither of the town’s structures filled over the weekend. But there were plenty of cars parked along the frontage road near Safeway on Saturday.

“People go where it’s free (to park),” Rose said, adding that this Thanksgiving in Vail was about normally busy.

In Vail Village, American Ski Exchange owner Tom Higgins agreed that the weekend was pretty normal for business.

“I think we were average or just a shade above for the weekend,” Higgins said. “The skiing was reasonably good – the groomers are doing a great job.”

While this year was pretty normal, Higgins said he did notice a few more international guests than usual this year.

“It was nice to get the dust off and be busy,” Higgins said. “Thanksgiving’s usually not a huge retail weekend, but people were having fun, and looking forward to the season.”

Across from Golden Peak, Manor Vail general manager Bob McCleary said that property was buzzing over the weekend, with a combination of condo owners, weekend guests and a few international ski team members filling up both rooms and restaurants.

While ski teams have come to Manor Vail in early November the past few years, McCleary said Thanksgiving remains a good chance for the lodge’s staff to get accustomed to busy days and nights.

“All your operations are running and your staff’s in place,” McCleary said. “After the holiday you can step back and kind of de-brief about what went right and what needs work.”

Overall, though, McCleary said he was happy with the holiday, and said reservations are strong for the coming holidays. People are reserving units a little earlier than they have the last few years, which is good news, since the last-minute booking trends of the last few seasons make it more difficult for lodges and restaurants to have the right number of people working on a given weekend or holiday.

“We’re pretty pleased,” McCleary said. “We had our best winter ever last year and this year’s looking a little better than that.

“But snow’s the one big X factor,” he added. “Snow trumps the economy. If it snows, people will come – if it doesn’t, then the economy is their excuse for not coming.”

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or

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