Vail approaches busiest time of year
VAIL, Colorado – Beautiful Vail summers might attract visitors to the area – there were record-breaking summer sales tax collections this summer – but the fact remains that Vail is a ski-resort town, and businesses are typically booming when the chairlifts are running.As Vail Mountain kicks off its 2011-12 season, local businesses look on with content – they, too, can see the dollar signs in the future.Now that Vail Mountain is open, many businesses will start to see a gradual increase in business until the full-blown spike that comes around the second week in December. Vail Mountain’s opening has truly brought the town’s economy back to life after one of the slowest months of the year, October.”Winter is the economic driver,” said Kevin Foley, a manager at the Lifthouse Condominiums in Lionshead and a Vail town councilman. “Everybody’s smiling.”Kevin Foley’s brother Dennis Foley owns Bart & Yeti’s in Lionshead, and he, too, is smiling. His employees are able to get some runs in before work now, which means they’re smiling, too.”It’s a great atmosphere,” Dennis Foley said. While Vail’s opening weekend doesn’t mean all businesses become slammed overnight, signs of busier times are now in sight. The popular Vail Village restaurant Sweet Basil remains busy most of the year, but the excitement is still felt mostly during winter. Manager Fletcher Harrison said the so-called offseason was busier than the restaurant expected, so there’s momentum building from that excitement as the ski season arrives, too.”(Winter) is the reason why Vail is here,” Harrison said. “Everyone who has lived here has come to realize there’s so much more, but at the end of the day this is what Vail is all about.”At Christy Sports in Vail Village, it’s not just the running chairlifts that bring people in. Snow is also a big business booster, said soft goods manager Kelly Allen. “The days it’s snowing a ton are huge,” Allen said.Allen said there’s clearly a difference in the valley across the seasons, and winter is definitely king. While Christy Sports does pretty well with bike rentals in the summer, there just isn’t the same amount of people in town as during ski season, she said.”Businesses in a ski resort, the whole year really relies on that ski season,” Allen said. And within that season, the visitors and the business they bring vary. The Latin American community typically comes in and wants full head-to-toe outfits. The weekend warriors, typically Front Rangers, come in looking for accessories such as goggles and mittens, Allen said. And closer to the holidays, many parents in town want new outfits for their families every year. This time of year is also when hard-goods business – such as boots, bindings, skis and snowboards – at Christy Sports and just about every ski and snowboard shop in town picks up.Steve Wolfe, the manager at Surefoot in Vail, was so busy Saturday he could barely spare a few minutes to talk.”We’ve just been slammed,” Wolfe said.At Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory, owner Matt Cardille is already seeing signs of a busier time of year. Friday, Vail Mountain’s opening day, was busier than any other day last week, he said. He’s also noticed that his gym, the Vail Athletic Club, has been busier lately.”The restaurants are opening back up. People are coming back from their vacations. It’s absolutely busier,” Cardille said. “It picks up more around the 15th of December – that’s really when it feels like season is here, and weekdays are busy, as well. I think it has to do with when direct flights are coming in.”Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.