Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Vail’s roses, thorns |

Vail Daily Editor and Publisher Don Rogers: Vail’s roses, thorns

Don Rogers
Vail, CO Colorado

Most things Vail had a remarkable winter.

The mountain had more snow than ever recorded. It also set an all-time record for skier visits, tallying 1.75 million of them.

The town’s sales tax coffers grew by 9 percent over the previous year. All the business that touches a ski slope had a good winter. The mayor mentioned in a letter we printed yesterday that their bus drivers earned perfect guest-satisfaction scores for the first time.

Folks were really happy, in other words.

Vail did a lot better than Aspen and the other Colorado ski towns by these measures.

It can’t be a coincidence that Crane City had lost the cranes, their work complete and the projects completed. That’s the Ritz, Four Seasons and Solaris.

I agree with the mayor that Vail’s big push to revitalize paid off big this winter.

Michelle Obama and the kids’ ski vacation over, ahem, Presidents Day weekend was the cherry on top.

It’s also a clear sign, at least to me, that Ever Vail, the proposed extension of base villages just west of Lionshead, makes sense. The “big” (because they aren’t, no really) buildings did not exactly scare folks away from Vail. Quite the opposite. And Ever Vail, which isn’t quite the scale of Vail Village or Lionshead, will similarly be successful a few years down the road when its time comes.

No question there will be bumps to come, inevitable ups and downs that come with the combination of snow farming and a higher-end clientele vulnerable to volatility in the national economy.

But the best ski place in the universe is on the right path here.

Of course roses always come with some thorns. Unfortunately, the hospital has a fistful.

Speaking of volatility, Vail Valley Medical Center’s business fortunes have swung from year to year. As in one year landing in the red by $12 million and then into the black by $35 million as recently as last year.

Unlike the ski company, town and businesses in town that cater to visitors, the arrow turned down on them in the first half of this year.

They have big plans for the long term that will pay off. It’s just the between here and there that’s challenging.

Business down, Medicare down, Obamacare looking less fruitful, VVMC reached the painful point that too many other companies know too well. It’s tough stuff, and also necessary for long-term viability.

Frankly, otherwise you wind up like our erstwhile competitor.

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