Vail Valley Thanksgiving weekend business puts some bustle into resorts
November 24, 2017
EAGLE COUNTY — Park Hyatt Beaver Creek General Manager Mark Herron told his crew to be ready for just about anything over Thanksgiving. What the hotel got was a pleasant surprise.
"It's been crazy — I've been blown away by the number of skiers," Herron said on Wednesday, Nov. 22, Beaver Creek's Opening Day. "We expected a soft opening, but (the weekend) could be a record by the time it's over."
Herron added that the hotel's bars and restaurants — from the Powder 8 cafe to the Antlers Lounge, were full much of Wednesday.
And there are plenty of booked rooms to keep those restaurants humming.
“Maybe Thanksgiving is becoming more than just skiing. Maybe we’ve become a place where families want to go on vacation over Thanksgiving.”Mark HerronGeneral manager, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
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Herron said the hotel is 98 percent booked for Saturday, Nov. 25. That's a good sign, he added, since many Front Range visitors often leave on a Saturday to avoid Sunday go-home traffic.
The hotel at the base of Beaver Creek isn't the only place in the Vail Valley reporting brisk business.
At the nearby Coyote Cafe, general manager Buzz Busby said the restaurant was full much of Opening Day. And, counter to his expectations, people seemed to be out on the mountain — which opened Wednesday with 58 acres of skiable terrain — for a while.
Nice at the top
"The conditions are very nice at the top," Busby said. "In previous years when we haven't had as much snow, people will take a run then come in for a beer. Today, you'd never know the entire mountain wasn't open."
The booking news was also good at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon.
Sales and marketing director Chris Cofelice said this season-opening weekend is better than it was in 2016. But, he added, that's not a great comparison, since dry conditions delayed Opening Day into December.
"For Thanksgiving and early season, snow plays a big role," Cofelice said.
Still, reservations are strong, and The Westin Riverfront communications director Julie Dunn said reservations are also up over 2016 at the hotel's Maya restaurant.
Reservations are also strong at a pair of Vail lodges. Vail's Opening Day had one lift and one run — Born Free — open.
At the Antlers Lodge, assistant general manager Kim Newbury-Rediker said that condo/hotel has a busy weekend booked.
Newbury-Rediker said that could be due to a couple of factors. The Antlers has for several years offered a "no snow" guarantee. People can change reservations without penalty from less-snowy times to other parts of the season.
"Very few take advantage of it," Newbury-Rediker said. "But it gives guests a feeling of comfort they can come later."
The Antlers this year is also offering a stay-and-dine package, in which guests can also order an in-unit meal from chef Barry Robinson.
"You can get a full dinner with a room — a private chef-made feast," she said. "We're also giving people cookie dough with rolling pins and cookie cutters."
Still not Christmas-busy
At the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail, sales and marketing director Scott Gubrud said that hotel is busy for the holiday weekend — not Christmas-week busy, but busy.
"I was a little nervous a week ago," Gubrud said. "But it's shaken out pretty well."
Gubrud said the Four Seasons is booked about 80 percent full for the weekend. But Flame, the hotel's restaurant, was very busy for Thanksgiving dinner, with about 350 people expected. The restaurant's to-go dinners actually sold out, with about 65 family meals sold.
That business may be a reflection of the Vail Valley becoming a more popular destination for Thanksgiving.
Newbury-Rediker, who lives in Vail, has worked in the valley's lodging business since the 1990s, and said her impression is that Vail is starting to bustle a bit more for the early-season holiday.
"It feels busier around town — it's nice," she said. "Our offseasons get shorter and shorter every year."
In Beaver Creek, Herron said Thanksgiving there has become more busy over time.
"Maybe Thanksgiving is becoming more than just skiing," Herron said. "Maybe we've become a place where families want to go on vacation over Thanksgiving."
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.