Vail guests want more parking, shorter walks |

Vail guests want more parking, shorter walks

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor | Daily file photo

VAIL, Colorado – Saturday’s parking situation at Vail, with both garages full and cars parked along the frontage road as far as the eye could see, is exactly what guests see as a hassle and a downfall in terms of Vail’s customer service.

The subject of guest services has come up a lot recently – Vail Town Council members keep brainstorming ways to improve and Vail Resorts’ Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz recently told town officials that guest services is “one of the great, long-term ethics of our company and of this community.”

That being said, guests in Vail see a lot of room for improvement, especially when it comes to parking and walking distances to the ski lifts.

“I think the walking and the parking is a pain in the butt,” said Justin Hildreth, of Avon. “Parking is expensive, and then you have to walk four blocks.”

Hildreth said that as an adult without children, he has it a lot easier than some of the families he sees walking around – they have to park and walk carrying a lot more gear than he does.

“If I was a parent with two kids, this would be a royal pain in the butt,” Hildreth said.

Will Harris, a teacher at Red Sandstone Elementary in Vail, said his students and their families usually go to Beaver Creek for that very reason – they can park for free and get directly on a bus without a long walk or pay to park in a garage that is just steps from the nearest chair lift.

People want convenience, especially when they’re walking around with uncomfortable gear. The Lionshead skier drop-off is another example of why convenience is inherently intuitive for people – the official drop-off is located within the Lionshead parking structure, however, the majority of people pull up to the loading and delivery zone and drop off skiers there.

They do it because it’s closer and it just makes sense, said one woman dropping off her husband Saturday.

Town Council members are looking at a Lionshead Transit Center that would make the Lionshead bus stop along the frontage road, making skiers and snowboarders walk even farther to get to the lifts. The town is also looking at adding a west entrance into the parking garage for skier drop-off and enforcing rules that don’t allow drop-off at the loading zone.

Many Vail guests would rather see bus stops, drop-offs and parking closer to the mountain, not farther, though.

“The location of the parking is horrible compared to Beaver Creek,” said Shawn Radtke, of Denver.

On days like Saturday when the only parking spaces left are along the frontage road, walking distances increase even more, frustrating skiers and snowboarders even more.

David Kaplan said he can’t seem to get it right. If he gets to Vail too early, he has to pay $25 to park for the day. If he arrives too late, which 11 a.m. was too late for Saturday, he has to “drive around forever looking for a place to park.”

“And then you have to walk 15 to 20 minutes,” Kaplan, of Denver, said.

The Vail Town Council wants to add more greeters to its volunteer force, but some people, like Hildreth and Harris, agree that after you’ve parked and walked a long distance in heavy ski gear, a smile just doesn’t mean as much.

Vail Resorts sees its proposed Ever Vail project as a solution. The project would add about 400 public skier parking spaces, and 1,500 total spaces, to the area just west of Lionshead, all within 1,000 feet of a new gondola onto the mountain. The project, if approved, would begin construction in 2011 at the earliest.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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