Vail fares better than others |

Vail fares better than others

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Vail Daily file photoVail leaders say the town and resort need to a better job promoting adventure sports like trailing, hiking and mountain biking

VAIL, Colorado – Vail has seen drops in hotel occupancy and rates this summer, but continues to do “less bad” than other ski resorts around the country, said market researcher advisor Ralf Garrison of MTRIP.

Local hotel occupancy rates are down 17 percent so far this summer, while the rest of the industry is down 21 percent. Room rates have dropped also as lodges have given more deals and discounts. Vail’s rates are down 6 percent compared to last year, while most of the industry has dropped rates an average of 11 percent.

Hotel numbers also show that Vail lodges had a strong April, partly thanks to Easter, which fell in April this year. Vail saw a 10 percent increase in hotel occupancies this April compared to last year – a bigger spike than other resorts saw, Garrison said.

Visitors are definitely behaving differently, he added, but not in the way that many in the business community have said.

While many local lodges have reported throughout the winter that guests have been booking last minute due to the uncertain economy and last minute deals, statistics show that people are booking trips later, but not by much.

“People are booking more (within) the month, but for the most part, it’s not as big a factor as has been talked about,” he said. “Actually for June, the numbers aren’t that different from last year.”

Sure, people come to Vail for the skiing, but some community leaders think it could have a host of other major attractions as well. Over the next few years, Vail could become a health and wellness destination and an outdoor adventure spot, they said.

The town’s local marketing council has been working with marketing researcher James Chung of Reach Advisors for the past year to partner the hospital with Johns Hopkins University, a process which is still underway.

University representatives will visit Vail during the first week of August to meet with officials from the hospital and Steadman Hawkins Clinic and talk about the details of a health-and-wellness partnership.

Ideas have included hosting medical and health conferences in Vail, and providing continuing education for health professionals in conjunction with the university.

While some have been frustrated that talks have gone on for so long without tangible result, leaders think that significant progress can be made in the next few months.

“It takes longer than this committee envisioned,” said council chair Beth Slifer. “We’ve been at this a year, but we have learned a lot.”

Vail is already well-known locally and regionally as a great place to trail run, mountain bike and backpack, and the town and resort host a number of outdoor competitions, said marketing experts, and with some help, those attributes could help put Vail on the map as a unique summer destination.

“People who like Vail more are the more active people,” said Chung. “Those who are more sedate travelers can find a number of resorts – many places offer spa and relaxation.”

The next step will be marketing and coordinating Vail’s outdoor appeal and existing sporting events to have mass appeal.

“It seems we have some assets that we’re not using,” Slifer said. “We’re here talking about these assets, but we’re not putting them out there and saying, ‘Look, this is why we’re a world-class outdoor adventure destination.”

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

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