Vail Valley Partnership celebrates 48th anniversary
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – As anniversaries go, 48 is impressive, but lacks the impact of, say, 50. But the Vail Valley Partnership celebrated its 48th birthday Sept. 4, which is a pretty big deal.The Partnership started life in 1964 as the Vail Resort Association, the central reservations bureau for the few lodges in the then-new ski resort. As the valley has grown and evolved, so has the Partnership. But the group’s core job is essentially the same as it was on Day 1: bring people to the Vail Valley.Frank Johnson, now manager of the Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa, was the the director of the organization for 15 years, starting in the early 1990s. During that time, it changed from a Vail-only group to one that focused on the entire valley.”When we were working to attract people to Vail, it became clear there were beneficiaries beyond Vail, and that Vail was vastly stronger with more attributes than were in town at the time,” Johnson said. And, he added, most people who went to Beaver Creek at the time would spent at least some time in Vail on their vacations.That made a valleywide group a logical next step. That early group – called the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau by the late 1990s – took steps including participating in initiatives to bring summer flights to the valley, and helping push legislation that allowed communities to levy sales taxes to support regional marketing. Ironically, that legislation was never used locally, just one way those ambitious early plans have taken some time to bear fruit.Chris Romer has worked the Partnership for the last five years, and has been the director for the last 18 months or so – tough times for businesses and the groups that try to help them. But tough times seem to have provided a boost to the idea of an organization that can help businesses along the length of the valley.”We’re working with everybody now,” Romer said.The idea of working beyond town or district boundaries really came together with an event that never happened.Last year’s announcement that the Partnership had recruited “The Show,” a giant youth baseball tournament, meant that the Partnership had to find a way to put those teams on every field in the valley. That required a lot of juggling, and a lot of cooperation between the valley’s towns and recreation districts. By the time The Show was scheduled to arrive, every ballfield in the valley was booked.But The Show cancelled at the last minute due to insurance problems. Still, the work wasn’t in vain.”We’ve created a body where an organization can make one contact and get this done,” said Beth Slifer, a longtime board member. “That’s a huge step in the right direction.”While reservations now are just part of what the Partnership does, Romer said the people who founded the Vail Resort Association would still recognize the group’s core mission.”That idea – providing great customer service, helping bring people here and being a voice for businesses – is the same as it’s always been,” Romer said.