Vail Valley businesses hang in through strange winter |

Vail Valley businesses hang in through strange winter

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

If every business in the Vail Valley was having the kind of year a couple of Beaver Creek restaurants are, we’d be asking when locals would be hit by the national recession.

“We’re about even with last year,” Dusty Boot owner John Shipp said. While the Beaver Creek restaurant has had a good year so far, Shipp said numbers did drop for the weekend just past.

“We’re hoping for a boost with the last-minute reservations,” general manager Alex Beck said. “We’re all just kind of in a holding pattern right now.”

While business at the Boot has been steady, it’s not the only local restaurant having a decent winter to date.

“Our whole year’s been pretty good so far,” Coyote Cafe manager Heather Johannsen said. “And we had a busy weekend.”

Johannsen said much of the Coyote’s business comes from locals.

“I’ll bet 75 percent of the people in here right now are locals,” she said Monday afternoon.

Shipp said locals have given a good start to his newest restaurant, a Dusty Boot in Eagle Ranch in Eagle. But, he added, he’s working on a couple of takeout packages for families to keep business bubbling.

In Vail, traffic, at least as measured by the town’s parking structures, was down just slightly from the same weekend last year.

Transportation manager Mike Rose said the parking structure in Vail Village filled up at roughly the same times Saturday and Sunday as it did the year before. As was the case last year, people only parked on the frontage roads on Saturday. About 50 fewer cars were parked outside the structures this year.

People came despite some stormy weekend weather. Rose, who spent the weekend in Denver, said eastbound traffic along Interstate 70 was bumper-to-bumper Sunday afternoon.

Besides people driving up, last-minute reservations continue to be strong this season.

Chris Romer, the sales and marketing director of the Vail Valley Partnership, said short-lead-time reservations taken by that organization ” both by phone and on the Vail On Sale Web site ” are up 16 percent from January of last year.

“I think the Talons Challenge at Beaver Creek drew a lot of attention,” Romer said. Beyond that event, Romer said that lodges doing promotions so far tend to be getting more phone calls and Internet action. Those promotions range from free parking to late checkout times on Sunday in order to lure last-minute travelers.

The Front Range traffic has put a lot of foot traffic into the villages at Vail and Beaver Creek. And Nikki Chase of the Golden Bear in Vail Village said at least some of those pedestrians have been pretty good shoppers.

“We’ve been having a really good season so far,” Chase said, adding that her employees told her last weekend was “steady,” if not as busy as the holiday weekend before.

“We’ve been pretty lucky,” Chase said. “Our new catalog just came out a couple of weeks ago, so there’s been some interest there, and we’ve kept our displays interesting.”

And, Chase added, there have been some big sales among the many smaller ones.

“We’re doing all right, knock on wood,” she said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or

16 Percent increase in last-minute reservations for January over 2008

363 Cars parked along Vail’s frontage roads Saturday

417 Cars parked along the frontage roads the same weekend in 2008

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