Vail asks the $9.7M question |

Vail asks the $9.7M question

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Getting “heads in beds” in Vail, Colorado will drive the search for how to use $9.7 million from sales and lodging taxes.

The money was collected over three years from a lodging fee and a sales tax approved by voters with the intention of building a conference center that would bring visitors to town year-round. The town went back to voters after it became clear that more money would be needed, and residents did not reapprove the taxes.

Now, if Vail is looking for alternative ways to spend the money, any new use of the funds would go to a public vote.

The Vail Town Council has asked a town marketing board, made up of Vail residents, lodge proprietors and other business people, to investigate possible uses for the money. The board will report back to the council in 60 days.

The money should still be used to bring visitors to Vail and get “heads in beds” during the offseason, they said. Many council members said they would prefer if the money was used to build some sort of facility, as opposed to a marketing campaign.

Originally, an option was to come before voters as early as this November, but the town said it didn’t want to rush the decision, especially in the current economy.

“We ought to begin the process and explore these ideas,” Councilman Andy Daly said. “But let’s not commit ourselves to an election.”

“The economic situation is so fragile right now,” agreed Councilwoman Margaret Rogers. “(The money is) earning interest, it’s building up. I’d prefer to put it off for another year and wait and see what the future holds.”

Ideas that have been thrown out include rebuilding Dobson Arena, building a conference center at the Lionshead parking structure or Ever Vail, or building a medical wellness center in partnership with the hospital.

The center would focus on health and education, said Beth Slifer, a member of Vail’s marketing board.

“We are just beginning to explore the idea, researching the concept of focusing on wellness in this community as a potential branding opportunity,” she said.

The hospital board is interested, and some members of the lodging community are also behind the idea, she added.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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