Vail business owners enthusiastic about Vail Resorts’ snowmaking plans | VailDaily.com

Vail business owners enthusiastic about Vail Resorts’ snowmaking plans

Bennett Levine skis down the Mid-Vail Express Trail on Nov. 15 in Vail. On an earnings call Thursday, Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz touted a project to expand snowmaking on Vail Mountain, opening up more higher-elevation terrain in the early part of the season.
Chris Dillmann | Daily file photo

VAIL — Better, earlier snow for Vail locals and visitors is a good thing, although some Lionshead Village business owners wonder how their early-season business might be affected.

The U.S. Forest Service recently issued a draft decision approving extensive snowmaking upgrades on Vail Mountain. That expansion is primarily in higher-elevation areas accessed via Vail Village.

That’s going to be a change for the resort, which except for exceptionally snowy years, has opened first from Lionshead Village.

Michael Callas, co-owner of Outdoor Divas in Lionshead Village, noted that the area tends to see more early-season traffic when the gondola there opens before the lifts run uphill from Vail Village.

If Gondola One opens first out of Vail Village, then Callas said Lionshead Village “may see some diminishment” in business.

But, he added, “I don’t think it’s going to have a monumental impact. … Anything the resort is doing to increase skier days is good for everybody.”

Chris Manning, co-owner of the Swedish Clog Cabin in Lionshead Village, agreed that more, earlier terrain is a good thing for all of Vail.

At the Double Diamond ski shop, manager Ali Katz said the Lionshead crowd seems to be more locals-oriented, adding that she isn’t sure if opening days in Vail Village will affect business overall.

Venture Sports owner Mike Brumbaugh has store locations in both Vail Village and at the Hotel Talisa.

Brumbaugh said he’s “super excited” about the snowmaking plan. Having snowmaking above Vail Village might make more resources available in other areas of the mountains, Brumbaugh said.

Speaking by phone on Thursday, Brumbaugh noted that skiers heading uphill out of the Hotel Talisa have to ride that lift back down to the base at the moment. But, he added, a number of locals park for free in West Vail, then take a town bus to catch the lift up to the mountain.

“If they put more resources here, that benefits everybody,” he said.

Buzz Schleper, the longtime owner of Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village, said he’s also excited about the idea of more high-elevation terrain, and not just from a business perspective.

Schleper, may already have passed 40 ski days this season by the time you read this. He knows the mountain well.

“Lionshead never has any beginner terrain open,” at the beginning of the season, Schleper said. “That’s not fair for the tourists who travel to town then.”

The area planned for expanded snowmaking will not only open up more terrain, but a lot of that terrain will be suitable for people who want easier runs at the beginning of the season.

But as a business owner, Schleper said he’s eager to see more early-season skiers in Vail Village.

“Those years when we don’t get snow and only Lionshead is open, (Vail Village) is a ghost town,” he said. “If (Vail Resorts) can give Lionshead a little (business) and Mid-Vail a little, we’ll all benefit.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.


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