Vail Valley businesses have been busy over the holidays
A combination of a midweek holidays, good conditions and last year's snow has the valley hopping
- Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Jr. birthday.
- Feb. 17: Presidents Day.
- School spring breaks are generally scattered throughout March.
- April 12: Easter Sunday.
EAGLE COUNTY — The Christmas and New Year’s holidays are always busy in the Vail Valley, but this has been a particularly busy time.
A combination of midweek holidays and good conditions have put a lot of people into the valley over the two busiest weeks of the season.
But another factor may be the good snow conditions last winter.
Kristen Pryor, the general manager at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, said that lodge has been fully booked since Dec. 21. And, she added, those bookings came in advance.
“Last year’s snow definitely helped,” Pryor said.
Full lodges are the rule this time of year. Vail Valley Partnership President and CEO Chris Romer said the final numbers aren’t in yet, but added that the valley’s occupancy was generally in the mid-90% range.
That counts as full. And, Romer added, a number of room vacancies occur when one guest checks out on, say, a Tuesday, and the next guest comes Thursday.
Last season’s snow
Vail Chamber & Business Association Director Alison Wadey agreed that people were anticipating good conditions based on the previous Christmas holiday season. In addition, it seems like consumer confidence is pretty strong right now.
Speaking by phone while walking on Bridge Street Vail, Wadey said that street was “packed” with pedestrians.
“It’s a whole mix of people,” Wadey said. “It’s not just people from the Front Range — it’s everybody.”
Romer said villages in Vail and Beaver Creek had the kind of energy that comes with being full of people who are having fun.
“That doesn’t exist all the time,” Romer said.
Bill Rey, owner of the Claggett-Rey Gallery in Vail Village, said it seemed to him that a number of guests were coming for an entire week. That used to be the norm, Rey said. More recently, though, stays seem to be for just a few days.
Rey said business in his gallery has been solid, but Christmas isn’t really a great time to sell one-of-a-kind art. While there are a number of longtime clients in town, “We’re typically busier after Christmas,” Rey said. “It’s hard to give art for Christmas unless you really know someone,” he added.
Much of Rey’s family is in the valley for the holidays, so he’s been up on the mountain and out and about at local restaurants. There are people everywhere, from the mountain to local restaurants, he said.
“It’s neat to see everybody busy,” he said.
That activity has put hundreds of cars on the town’s frontage roads, since the town’s parking structures were full. On Jan. 2, there were 327 cars on the frontage roads.
This year’s snow
Double Diamond Ski Shop general manager Matt Carroll said having holidays fall mid-week has kept him and his crew busy.
“We’re busier the week after Christmas than the week before,” Carroll said. “We had a very, very busy weekend.”
Even a few frigid days weren’t enough to keep people from hitting the slopes.
Even then, “people were getting out and about early — they weren’t holding back,” Carroll said. “Even when it was really cold, people were here right at the get-go.”
The cold weather early in the week also didn’t stop snowmobile tours at Sage Outdoor Adventures. Robin Leedle of Sage said those tours — at a site just north and west of Wolcott — have been fully booked every day for the past two weeks.
At the Sonnenalp in Vail, sales and marketing director Patricia McNamara said it’s been a busy couple of weeks.
“It was actually really good,” McNamara said. “We’ve had great snow, great guests — and we’re not done.
While advance bookings are often made based on previous conditions, McNamara said this week’s snowfall has also been a boon.
“When it snows, the phones ring,” she said.
That’s a good thing, of course.
But, McNamara said, she’s looking forward to next week, when the valley settles back to a more normal pace.
“I’m going to get up on the mountain,” she said. And, like many others, she’ll savor the opportunity to take a deep breath.
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.