Vail Mountain wraps up season
VAIL — Remember when there was just one summer gondola option on the mountain?
That’s how it will be once again starting Friday, as the Eagle Bahn gondola offers a final weekend of summer operations through Sunday. Gondola One in Vail Village has officially closed for the season.
And in area that feared a downturn in business with the opening of another summer gondola at Vail, Lionshead seems to be doing pretty well. So well, in fact, that many of the shops and restaurants plan on staying open through the shoulder season.
“Usually we see a few weeks in the summer where it’s dead, but with all the events here we’ve stayed busy the entire summer,” said Jordan Root, a manager at the Vail Chophouse. “I think that’s kind of the motivation to keep it going through the off-season.”
The Chophouse, with its base-of-the-gondola location, usually relies on the Eagle Bahn as a linchpin for business. But with new owners and strong summer and fall business in 2015, the restaurant plans on giving the slow season a go with happy hour specials every day from 3 to 5 p.m. and lots of football on their new television screens.
“Any time there’s a football game on, we’ll be open with half price appetizers and drink specials,” Root said.
TRAILS IN GREAT SHAPE
Other factors, like beautiful weather and nearby construction, also contributed to a good summer in Lionshead for restaurants.
“Our business this summer was up quite a bit from last summer,” said Ben Gilbert, co-owner of Moe’s Original BBQ in Lionshead. “I’m going to try to stay open lunch and dinner during the off-season — we basically gauge it on the business.”
In town from Chicago, Suzi Pope said the weather for her hike up the Berry Picker trail out of Lionshead on Thursday was better than she could have imagined.
“And the views were absolutely stunning,” she said. “I think I took a thousand pictures.”
Pope said she may incorporate a gondola ride into her hikes Friday and tomorrow.
“I haven’t been here in 20 years, I forgot how charming the town was,” she said.
Dan Gilberstadt and Cassie Wright of Denver got married in Vail over the weekend, and are staying through this weekend. Gilberstadt said he celebrated his nuptials by mountain biking all week.
“The trails are in really good shape,” he said. “The aspen leaves falling on the trails are like rose petals, guiding the way.”
When he learned this weekend was the closing weekend, Gilberstadt seemed astonished.
“I don’t understand what they mean when they say this is not peak season,” he said. “The leaves, the weather, it’s all peaking right now. Why close at all?”
Much to Gilberstadt’s surprise, an October closing would be considered a late year by most locals and regular visitors.
There will be activities available at Adventure Ridge atop the Eagle Bahn, and on-mountain dining at Talon’s Deck. The Eagle Bahn will run from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and open activities at Adventure Ridge will include the Zip Flyer, challenge course, kids’ zip-line and challenge course, Top of the Mountain Tours, climbing wall, and guided hike and bike tours (reservations recommended). Gore Creek Mini Golf will be open at the base of Lionshead.
The Vail Farmer’s Market will also wrap up for the season on Sunday, hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Vail’s annual Restaurant Week, with its wide variety of restaurants offering $20.15 specials, will run through Sunday, as well. For a complete list of participating restaurants, visit http://diningataltitude.com/.
The Eagle Valley Land Trust and Eagle River Watershed Council program adds 1% to purchases to fund preservation and conservation.