The year-round resort reality |

The year-round resort reality

Kaye Ferry

What a spectacular end to a perfect year on the mountain. The snow gods surely blessed us. We seemed to not only get great snow, but also better than almost anywhere else. And to make it even better, Vail Resorts threw in an extra week.The extra week was particularly good news for the business community. Seven days at any time of the year is a gift and can actually significantly influence the bottom line. To those that have never been in the retail or food business, even the addition of an extra day in a leap year makes a difference.Combined with the events and the spectacular weather, April could turn out to be one of the best. Detailed sales tax returns won’t be out until June so we won’t know for sure until then, but the word on the street is good.Everyone is now bracing themselves for this interim season for which no one has ever found a suitable name. Mud. Slow. Off. Shoulder. Whatever you call it, the list of businesses that are staying open for it is grim. Particularly the restaurants.Having been in that business, I know all of the obvious problems. Traffic is painfully slow. Food spoils. Staff wants time off. And quite frankly, so do many of the owners.It’s been a long season. With long hours. And no matter how well you plan, there are always more unforeseen catastrophes than hours in the day.All in all, life in a busy seasonal resort is stressful. The only way some survive it is with thoughts of blue water and sandy beaches in the back of their minds.But there’s a reality that’s being missed. If we want to be a year-round resort, we have to start acting like a year-round resort. Something that has to be done, but nobody seems to know how to do it.When I had The Daily Grind, it never closed in 15 years except for one remodel. At times, it was a killer. Business was slow. Help was hard to find. Even deliveries were cut back. But I firmly believed it was necessary.So our guests this year will face a real challenge. While we have a fair number of retail stores and hotels that are staying open, if you see a hungry guests aimlessly wandering the streets, take pity. They’re probably starving to death. But kudos to those that are open. We appreciate it.On another topic: The pedestrian bridge is safe. That’s the little bridge that runs parallel to the International Bridge over the west end of Gore Creek near Checkpoint Charlie. It is in need of serious repairs, yet actually repairs still wouldn’t bring it up to code. So for liability reasons, the town was thisclose to removing it.Two things changed that. There was a huge outcry from the public, mostly the lower Gore Creek merchants. Additionally, the cost to remove it and repair the creek banks was only about $60,000 less than replacing it. And while I wouldn’t normally use “$60,000” and “only” in the same phrase, in the grand scheme of the town budget, it’s peanuts. But even more importantly, they listened. The bridge serves as an access route to many businesses and is a major photo op location. It was a good move on the part of the town council to replace it. Construction will start in the fall.And then there’s the gas crisis. Prices keep climbing with no end in sight. I’m not sure what that means for summer business particularly since airline tickets are supposed to get a significant hike as well.When faced with a similar situation a few years back, Aspen tackled the problem head on. And they’ve done it again. If a guest books two nights at any of the participating hotels, they will receive a $50 voucher for gas. This is to act as an incentive to get the traveler into the car and make the trip to the pump less painful. But there’s more. You actually can spend the $50 on anything at Aspen store, aka the gas station. Then there’s two bike rentals and two free bus passes to the Maroon Bells. I’ve never been sure that these promotions work, but the folks in Aspen must think so if they’re giving this one a repeat performance. All I know for sure is it can’t hurt.By the way, if you want to get the cheapest gas prices around here, go to on a final note. Someone called me on Saturday from New York and asked why I am against the petition process. I’m not. Nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, I totally believe that citizens have a right to question the decisions made by elected officials.And to make things even more clear, in case anyone wasn’t paying attention, I am for the Crossroads project. I was for it the first day I saw it. I’m for it now. I’ll be for it tomorrow. But these are not mutually exclusive positions.As I’ve said many times before, this is America. We should be able to disagree and find civilized ways to resolve the differences. But that has to be based on good faith and honesty. Things seriously missing in this petition process.It is unfortunate how this whole thing as digressed. And that is what I’m against and you should be, too. Now that the signatures have been gathered, it seems pretty clear that a special election is looming in the near future. I can only hope that more civilized, respectful and truthful behavior guides the next step.Do your part: call them and write them. To contact the Town Council, call 479-1860, ext. 8, or e-mail To contact Vail Resorts, call 476-5601 or e-mail For past columns, go to and click on “Columnists” or search for keyword “ferry.” Kaye Ferry is a longtime observer of Vail government. She writes a weekly column for the Daily. Vail, Colorado

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