Vail Town Council talking about ways to boost the economy |

Vail Town Council talking about ways to boost the economy

Town looking into gift card program, tents to expand winter restaurant seating

Sales tax collections are lower than 2019 in Vail and the rest of Eagle County, but the declines haven't been as steep as once feared.
What are they doing?
  • Here’s a quick look at some of Vail’s economic recovery efforts:
  • A commercial rent relief program is accepting applications.
  • The Vail Farmers Market will continue into October.
  • The town is working with some restaurants on ideas for winter tents to expand occupancy.
  • The town is looking to create “warming areas” as places to either eat or wait for restaurant tables.

It’s hard to believe that a summer sales tax drop of 30% is a win, but that’s what 2020 looks like in Vail. The town is continuing efforts to spur economic activity in town.

Vail Town Manager Scott Robson this week gave the Vail Town Council a look at some of the current and proposed efforts to bring people into town.

Despite fewer people in town, Robson said “It’s been a pretty fantastic summer,” particularly with music at Ford Park and in the town’s resort villages.

The town has approved spending another $70,000 with High Altitude Entertainment on music in September. Those performances are mostly small, socially-distanced events at the lower bench of Ford Park and in the resort villages. Robson added that the September events will move into Lionshead “as much as possible.”

Councilmember Jenn Bruno, co-owner of the Luca Bruno clothing stores in Vail Village, said she’s in the village every day right now, and she’s heard good things about the performances.

“I hear from everyone how much they appreciate (the performances).” Bruno said. She added that the performances have been “a great investment for the town,” providing “vitality” in the villages and providing work for local musicians.

Robson noted that the music performances around town may be unique to Vail right now.

“The musicians say this isn’t happening across the rest of the state,” he said.

Other efforts include:

Vail Farmers Market

The market will continue into October.

Commercial rent relief

The town has started accepting applications for a program intended to help businesses from August through the end of November. The program requires a partnership between businesses, landlords and the town. The town will provide up to $15,000 in relief for businesses, and there’s $1 million in the program bank account.

Gift cards

Modeled after a successful program in Aspen, the town will provide $25 gift cards to specific businesses. Those gift cards can be provided to locals — probably people who work in town — and lodging guests.

According to a memo about the efforts, the average gift card sale in Aspen was $80. That means local businesses saw a boost in their sales.

The council on Sept. 15 will hear a detailed proposal about a similar program for Vail.

Face coverings

While the council remains narrowly split on requiring face coverings outdoors in high-density areas, the town may purchase Vail-branded coverings.

Winter ideas

The town is still examining working with certain restaurants on providing tents for the winter. Those tents — with police and fire officials checking for safety — could allow some restaurants to have more capacity than indoor distancing requirements allow. The focus of the program would be on dinner service.

The Vail Design Review Board would be asked to weigh in on the tents’ appearance.

The town could also create winter “warming areas,” placing outdoor heaters around the villages. Those areas could be used for eating outdoors or for people waiting for their dinner reservations.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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