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Vail draws holiday crowds

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily photoVail ski shops, restaurants and lodges said they were crowded this weekend.
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VAIL ” Despite faltering revenue reports and a drop in advance reservations for hotels so far this season, many Vail businesses reported a strong holiday weekend that drew big crowds.

“We’ve had wall-to-wall people all morning,” said Buzz Schleper of Buzz’s Ski Shop and Buzz’s Boards. “We were almost rented out for the weekend.”

And the holiday visitors didn’t just come for the weekend, Schleper said ” many people were arriving on Monday and planning to stay for the week.

“For every person leaving for the weekend, I’ve got someone else coming in for the week,” he said.

Lodges also said that in addition to the weekend guests, the holiday vacationers are continuing to come for the week.

“We’ll be pretty busy this week with a few openings in the middle of the week,” said Assistant Front Desk Manager Rachel Pettengill of the Austria Haus. “Then we’re full again for next weekend.”

The Vail Village hotel was about 95 percent full for Saturday and Sunday, she said.

The Tivoli Lodge reported a similar weekend. Guests filled the Vail Village hotel starting Friday, business will slow down for the first few days of this week, but then will pick back up toward the end of the week, said reservations manager Kim Newberry.

“Business has been good for us,” she said. However, she added that she’s not seeing as many long vacations as in the past.

“The trend has been for people to come for three- or four-night stays. Not that many come for a week or more,” she said.

Like many other businesses, Pettingill said that many of the Austria Haus customers have been from outside Colorado.

While there has been a good number of Texans and New Yorkers coming through the hotel doors, there has been a notable lack of international guests, she said.

Larkspur director of marketing Sue Barham agreed that she hasn’t heard many accents, but that the Golden Peak restaurant has seen diners from all over the country.

The restaurant has been busier than anytime in January, and reservations for President’s Day weekend are comparable to last season, Barham said.

“We were overwhelmed for lunch and dinner starting this weekend,” she said. “(On Monday) we opened doors at 12 for lunch, and we were full in half an hour. Looking at our reservation books, we’re busy through Wednesday.”

The busy weekend comes after what some businesses said has been a tough year.

“The weekend was actually pretty big, considering we were pretty slow the last few weeks,” said Rita Axelroth, hostess at Vail Village’s Terra Bistro restaurant.

The restaurant was completely filled on Valentine’s Day, and it was booked nearly full on Friday and Sunday. Axelroth said the restaurant hadn’t been that busy even during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.

“We were back up to some of our Christmas and New Year’s numbers,” she said.

American Ski Exchange owner Tom Higgins said he still feels like he’s seeing less visitors in general coming through the village.

“Rentals and retail are down in general,” he said, adding that he fears that the parking costs and inconvenience of skiing Vail are driving guests away. “People are certainly conscious of what they are spending their money on.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.


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