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Vail hotels filling up for holidays

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado ” Reservations are down in general for lodges in Vail, Colorado but what is historically the busiest week of the season is slowly filling up, some hotels report.

Reports in late November and early December showed that advance bookings for Vail hotels were lagging significantly. However, experts also said it seems that because of an uncertain economy, people are waiting until later to book their vacations.

“Everything’s gotten really short-term,” said Ralf Garrison of MTRiP, a mountain travel research firm. “People are planning maybe a few weeks out instead of months ahead, which is bad, because it’s going to be a real nail biter.”



Kevin Foley of the Lifthouse in Lionshead said that trend lines up with what he’s been seeing. For the first time in eight years, rooms are not completely booked for Christmas week, he said.

“We’ve got four rooms open, but people are booking later,” he said. “It’s a fire sale right now ” we’ve dropped rates quite a bit. I’m optimistic that we’ll be at 100 percent.”



The early part of January has a significant amount of bookings, but Martin Luther King week is still “soft,” Foley said.

Lodges and analysts are saying that while the booking numbers this December may lag behind last year’s, they aren’t too far off from 2006-2007 numbers.

Many also hope the plentiful early-season snow, resilience of skiers in tough times, and the abundance of promotional deals will boost room bookings.



“Lodging properties are bring really aggressive in their promotions,” Garrison said. “Everyone who is in a position to react is reacting.”

The Antlers in Vail, which is offering a “stay four nights get the fifth night free” deal, said that pre-Christmas bookings are weak, but that the lodge is fully booked for the Christmas-to-New Year’s week.

The week is especially critical for lodges, said Antlers General Manager Rob LeVine ” the lodge typically makes about 10 to 15 percent of its revenue from Dec. 26 to New Year’s.

The pick up in reservations and the full holiday week makes him optimistic about the coming months, LeVine said.

“It looks like we’re going to hit 80 percent of our (planned) January budget,” he said. “Normally we’d see that as a disaster, but this year it’s a bit of a victory.”

Garrison pointed out that although many lodges or property management companies may not be reporting full bookings, that doesn’t mean people aren’t going to come to Vail.

Second-home owners and Epic Pass/Front Range skiers may make a strong showing, he said.

“Second home-owners who haven’t rented out their condos are using it themselves instead,” he said. “It may look empty now but the day after next, the guy who owns it will be there, and he’ll be in the restaurants and on the mountain.”

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


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