Vail businesses report quiet Thanksgiving |

Vail businesses report quiet Thanksgiving

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Despite a lack of snow, warm temperatures and a tough economy, Vail’s lifts stayed busy on Thanksgiving Day, while lodges and other businesses reported modest crowds.

While Thanksgiving is usually the time when Vail sees its first influx of tourists, how many come really depends on the snow, some business owners said ” and for the conditions, the thus-far quiet holiday weekend is not a big surprise.

Thanksgiving Day is usually quieter, and then business will pick up on Friday and Saturday, said Steve Sheridan, owner of Performance Sports in Lionshead.

But the real crowds usually start showing up in mid-December, he said.

“Everybody’s worried about this year,” Sheridan said. “But as long as it’s snowing, it’ll be okay.”

They’re still coming

Lift lines in Lionshead Village for Vail’s few open runs were slow in the early hours, but sizable crowds showed up by late morning.

It wasn’t just local residents who hit the slopes. There were a fair amount of out-of-town visitors, too ” so much so that Nederland skier Andy Cookler thought it might be time to call it a day.

“(The crowd) is a little bigger than I expected,” said Cookler, who owns a home in Vail.

He said he came up to use his Epic Pass and spend Thanksgiving with the family.

“I’ve never come up to Vail this early, but it’s definitely better snow than Eldora,” he said of his local slopes. “Over there they only have a single ribbon of snow.”

Denver residents Jack Allen and Carol Hank said that coming up to Vail for Thanksgiving is a tradition for them, regardless of snow conditions.

“We knew that (there wouldn’t be much snow),” Allen said. “The way I look at it, if it’s a powder day, it’s great. If not, Vail’s still the best.”

Florida resident Gene Luciano expressed similar sentiments, saying he always comes out to Vail in the early season, and tries to make a trip about once a month during the winter.

“I come out every year, snow or not,” he said. “If the snow is bad, the food is great. And there are other things to do here ” hiking and shopping.”

He and North Carolina resident Daphne Brown said they have been staying at the Hotel Gastof Gramshammer, shopping and just enjoying the mountains, they said.

While many people might be cutting back on vacations this year, Luciano said he still plans to make his regular trips to Vail.

“Absolutely I’ll keep coming,” he said. “The economy is depressing, but at the same time, you might as well enjoy your time.”

Hoping for snow

Despite the bustle at the chairlifts, many hotels stayed relatively quiet.

Vail’s Evergreen Lodge bookings were a bit down compared to last Thanksgiving, but the hotel is expecting higher occupancy rates next week, said front desk agent Liuba Buburuz.

“It’s slower than usual,” she said. “Weather is definitely an influence. People call and ask if it’s snowing or not.”

Micah Paysinger at the Austria Haus Hotel in Vail Village agreed. The hotel hasn’t seen too much of a Thanksgiving rush, he said.

“If there’d been more snow, there would have been a lot more bookings,” he said.

However, Thanksgiving business isn’t necessarily an indicator of the rest of the season, said Tracy Petrovitch, assistant general manager at Vail’s Holiday Inn.

The hotel’s current bookings are actually up compared to last Thanksgiving, she said.

“The busiest time of year for us is Christmas through New Years. Even then, we’ll have no idea how the rest of the season will be. It depends on the snow,” she said. “We have high hopes for this winter.”

Many restaurants in the area were closed for the holiday, but some, such as the village’s Left Bank, advertised special Thanksgiving dinners.

The restaurant usually has a good amount of visitors who come for Thanksgiving, but this year reservations are down about 30 percent, the restaurant reported.

Blu’s Restaurant in the village was also offering a Thanksgiving dinner, and while the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, owner Tom Armstrong said the phones were ringing all day.

“It’s as busy as it is at Thanksgiving traditionally,” he said of the quiet streets. “Anything is better than nothing.”

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

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