Vail Valley seasonal workers: Away from home for the holidays |

Vail Valley seasonal workers: Away from home for the holidays

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Photo by Lauren Glendenning/

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado – Home for the holidays is a phrase that is mostly foreign to the local work force – holidays in the Vail Valley equate to some of the busiest times of the year.

It’s something many people come to terms with before they accept their resort-town jobs. Some workers arrange for family members to visit them here for the holidays, while others think of ways they can celebrate without having any family close by.

Ski instructors Bryan Olson and Ernest Anastos are both working during Thanksgiving. They’re used to it, though, after so many years on the job.

Olson has been an instructor for 27 years, but just because he’s become accustomed to not seeing his family around the holidays doesn’t mean it gets any easier.

“You get used to it, but the emotion of missing that is always there,” Olson said.

Olson still wasn’t sure what his dinner plans for Thanksgiving were as of Wednesday afternoon. He shouted out to Anastos and asked him if he wanted to come by for some turkey.

“I’ll cook one myself if I have to,” Olson said.

Anastos liked the sound of that idea. He’s been coming out to Colorado from New Hampshire for the last five winters to work as a ski instructor. His family is mostly in New Hampshire and in Florida.

“I’ll be here,” Anastos said.

Being here isn’t so bad for many of these workers, even if they do miss family members this time of year. Mike Fernald just moved to the area from Chicago to work at Beaver Creek and he is ecstatic about the ski season.

It’s the first time Fernald has ever moved away from home, making this his first Thanksgiving away from home, too.

“I’ll obviously miss my family a lot, but I’ve been waiting to come out here for a few years now and I love it,” Fernald said. “I don’t think I’ll ever leave.”

His love for the mountains and for his new home in the valley should make holidays away from home slightly easier, especially because Fernald said so many of the people he has met here so far are “really awesome and down to earth.”

“It’s awesome here,” he said.

Fernald said he has to work Thursday and Friday, but he said he and his roommates, and maybe some friends, would probably end up cooking a turkey at their place.

Cody Calcatera, who also works at Beaver Creek, is from Texas but won’t be alone for the holidays. His sister lives in Fort Collins so he’s heading up there for turkey day. Last season he just hung out in employee housing and ate Thanksgiving dinner with some friends.

“It’s always good to see the family,” Calcatera said.

Johanna Smith, an EpicMix photographer, feels pretty lucky this Thanksgiving because she grew up in the valley. Her family is spending Thanksgiving together at their house in Eagle, including relatives who are coming up from Denver.

“I feel lucky,” Smith said. “I’m pretty stoked about having Thanksgiving at my house instead of going somewhere else.”

She said she’s heard of several coworkers who were arranging potluck Thanksgiving dinners. She said many people are trying to at least get a group together to avoid spending Thanksgiving alone.

That’s what Elizabeth Honeycutt, a ticket scanner at Beaver Creek, is doing this weekend. While she and several friends have to work Thanksgiving Day, they plan to get about 10 people together on Sunday for a traditional feast.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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