Vail Town Council to take first look at Steward Vail plan    |

Vail Town Council to take first look at Steward Vail plan   

Council will evaluate the plan's first two strategic pillars on Tuesday, which delve into top challenges like housing, Vail Resorts relationship as well as how to build a memorable experience for all

The Town of Vail will take its first look at the Steward Vail plan, which aims to strike a balance between preserving the town's environment, community and priorities while sustaining and growing its tourism-based economy.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily Archive

On Tuesday, Dec. 6, Vail Town Council will get its first look at the Steward Vail plan, a 10-year destination stewardship plan intended to advance the town’s sustainability goals in step with local priorities while building its tourism economy.

The process to develop the plan kicked off earlier this year in March and has undergone multiple phases — from research to building a framework to engaging stakeholders as well as community members and leaders — to craft a draft plan, which will be discussed and considered by council over the next several months.

According to a memo in the Town Council packet for Tuesday’s meeting, over 1,500 people engaged in the process through public sessions, meetings, focus groups and in-depth interviews. All of which was done to ensure that the plan reflects not only the council’s agenda but the community members needs and desires as well.  

At its upcoming meeting, the Town Council will hear a report on the first two strategic pillars of the plan. The first two pillars are “be better together” and “enhance Vail’s ‘world-class experience.’”

The pillars were designed throughout the planning process to align with four Town Council priorities — economy, experience, community and environment — with each pillar supported by five or six objectives, or tangible ways that the town can achieve them.

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The other three strategic pillars are to invigorate Vail’s spirit, to advance Vail stewardship as a global model and to energize Vail’s brand as the premier sustainable mountain resort community.

The Town Council will see continued reports on the Steward Vail plan through February, including the other three strategic pillars, as well as a sustainability analysis, optimal framework and more. The council is expected to finalize the draft plan by its Feb. 20, 2023 meeting.

As council digs into the pillars over the course of its next three meetings, it will be asked to provide feedback and consider the policy implications of each.

Pillar One: Be better together

At a high level, this first pillar is described in the plan as a way to “solve community challenges and capitalize on opportunities,” by embracing local and regional collaboration as well as public-private partnerships.

“One of the most compelling findings from this planning process is just how much community members agree about what needs to happen to make Vail a more livable community,” reads the draft plan.

The primary challenges — as outlined in the six objectives that fall under this pillar — include housing, transit, child care, climate change, entrepreneurship and career growth, and the town’s relationship with Vail Resorts. These six objectives are as follows:

  • A legacy objective to double the supply of deed-restricted housing from 1,050 to 2,100 by 2030 through a regenerative, collaborative approach;
  • Create an integrated network of transit services connecting Vail with not only Eagle County, but its neighboring counties as well;
  • Collaborate on a wide-ranging child care strategy to support the needs of families in Vail’s workforce;
  • Expand the positive impacts of Vail’s climate initiative through county-wide partnerships;
  • Stimulate local entrepreneurship as a way of creating more career pathways in Vail through partnerships; and
  • Continue to build and strengthen its partnership with Vail Resorts to identify solutions for achieving shared objectives.

The plan provides more details on each of these challenges as well as identifies potential solutions. For example, on the “top priority” of housing, the draft plan identifies a need to “close the housing gap,” offering opportunities through building more housing, building smarter as well as through federal and state funding to increase its deed-restriction inventory. Countywide transit, it adds, also expands housing potential for the town.

While all of these objectives call for collaboration and partnership to solve them, the final objective outlines a need for a specific partnership to be strengthened to solve nearly all the challenges.

The draft plan identifies a need for a “shared agenda” between Vail Resorts and the town of Vail on shared concerns as the two are “in an unprecedented time of conflict.” These shared concerns include reducing carbon emissions as well as expanding housing, child care and transportation options.

“Vail is not the only Vail Resorts’ destination town that feels a loss of connection with the company that makes so much happen in its community,” the draft reads. “By considering taking the lead on discussions with other major Vail Resorts host destinations, the Town of Vail could join in a concerted effort with peers to share best practices and solutions and, collectively, seek to shape a more productive relationship with their prime employer.”

Overall, this first pillar is one that addresses many shared and broad community concerns.  

“As shown by a pair of Steward Vail resident surveys fielded in summer 2022, both Vail and downvalley residents united in concerns about parking pressures, crowding, damage to trails, and a yearning for a stronger sense of community in Vail,” the draft plan reads.

“They believe it’s vital for Vail to support its workforce, not only with expanded housing opportunities but with childcare and better transit options. They believe it’s extremely important for Vail to strive to offer a high level of customer service and that greater cooperation between Vail Resorts and the Town of Vail would go a long way toward alleviating tourism-related pressures.”

Pillar Two: Enhance Vail’s ‘world-class experience’

The overall purpose of the second pillar is to “foster memorable experiences and positive interactions to serve all in Vail.”

“Vail’s commitment to delivering a world-class experience is unshaken despite a myriad of pressures on local quality of life in recent years,” the draft plan reads.

There are five objectives as part of this pillar, which seek to “protect and grow the heart of (Vail’s) appeal.” These include creating positive experiences; mitigating impacts of things like parking, congestion, overuse of trails and resources; strengthening its cultural scene; as well as building health and wellness experiences for residents and guests.

Specifically, the five objectives are as follows:

  • Embrace technology to deliver seamless experiences, manage resources such as parking and trails, and create strategies to increase visitor spending;
  • Continuously build Vail’s image as a community that offers first-class service and accepts everyone for who they are;
  • Leverage the local arts and creative economy to create exceptional year-round cultural experiences and diversify business development;
  • Expand the appeal of Vail’s healthy outdoor lifestyle by advancing opportunities for physical and emotional wellness, especially in partnership with renowned health care providers in Vail; and
  • Broaden access to the world-class experience to attract and reward the workforce and local stewards.

Many of these objectives are driven by greater trends within the travel industry. For example, the draft plan identifies opportunities with emerging technologies to improve guest experiences as well as a trend toward people traveling to destinations that serve emotional and physical wellness needs. All of which offer opportunities for growth in Vail.

While some of these are centered around the guest experience, the final objective identifies a need to create visitor-like experiences for residents as well.

“As Vail celebrates its 60 years of existence throughout this ski season, the town is seeking ways to revive and honor the spirit of fun and camaraderie so many say infused Vail’s community in its early days. To create a legacy from the anniversary celebration, Vail should consider ways of connecting locals with the extraordinary ‘World-Class Experience’ they continue to create,” the draft plan reads.

Vail Town Council will be hearing about and discussing these first two pillars of the Steward Vail plan at its Tuesday, Dec. 6 afternoon meeting, which starts at 12:50 p.m. Public comments are accepted virtually — by registering at, or in advance of the meeting by emailing — and in person at 75 S. Frontage Road in Vail.

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