Vail Valley businesses settle into new, slower pace |

Vail Valley businesses settle into new, slower pace

Scott N. Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” Gary Boris doesn’t think his Vail Valley business is doing any better than anyone else’s. That means things are just OK.

Boris is a co-owner of Vista, which moved from Avon’s boat building to Arrowhead a couple of seasons ago. Despite the short drive between the two spots, some people had a hard time following the move.

“Word’s getting out, though, and people are starting to find out where we are,” Boris said.

Boris said Vista’s business over the weekend wasn’t bad, and has been picking up a bit as the season has moved along. Still, he said, he’s feeling the effects of the economic slump like everyone else.

“We made adjustments for this season,” Boris said. “Our price points are more varied.”

Vail International Gallery co-owner Patrick Cassidy said his customers are looking harder for better values in art.

“We’ve downscaled our prices,” Cassidy said. “It’s not a fire sale, but we’ve had to stretch a little bit. But it still has to make business sense to do a deal. We focus on the quality of the art.

After a “dismal” start to the season, Cassidy said the rest of the season has started to pick up, and there’s been a decent number of people coming through the doors.

Overall numbers are down, Cassidy said, but not as much as he’d feared.

In Lionshead, Cabel Yarne said his store, Arriesgado, is doing about the same business it did last year, its first.

Normally, you’d expect a business in a high-traffic area of Vail to do better in its second season, but this year’s different. So Yarne said he and his employees are learning from the mistakes they made in their initial season.

That work is paying off, Yarne said, in repeat customers. Still, about even with last year isn’t so bad these days.

“We’re down about 15 percent ” in revenue and compared to our budget ” compared to last year,” Antlers Lodge general manager Rob LeVine said. Still, about 90 percent of the lodge’s rooms were occupied last weekend, and it’s booked to between 85 and 94 percent capacity for the next week or so.

That drop puts the lodge about where it was during the 2006-07 season, LeVine said. But a drop is a drop. The decline in business has forced cutbacks on expenses and, for the first time in a long, long, time, the Antlers laid off some people this season.

Where the lodge hasn’t cut back is marketing, LeVine said.

And that marketing ” including participation the in Vail All the Love and Vail On Sale Programs, has helped put people in rooms, even if they’re booking just a couple of weeks ” or a couple of days ” before they travel.

A lot of people in the lodging business say the last-minute bookings are due to people looking for deals. Some have called 2009 “the year of the deal.”

LeVine said there’s some truth to that, but added that people seeking deals isn’t new. What may be new is putting off room reservations for other reasons.

“It seems like people are putting off decisions on everything from a ski vacation to lunch,” LeVine said. He’s only half-joking. LeVine is a member of the state’s chamber of commerce, and he said that group’s annual fund-raising luncheon filled up just days before the event.

But even given last-minute bookings, LeVine said he’s worried about March reservations.

“Even with the last-minute people, it’s going to be hard to be down just 15 percent in March,” he said.

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