Vail’s Easter business ‘was better than Christmas’
On the calendar:
April 10: Closing day for Vail and Beaver Creek.
April 25: First day of Eagle County School District’s spring break.
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving Day, 2016.
April 16, 2017: Easter Sunday.
EAGLE COUNTY — The weekend of Easter has always been a big one in the Vail Valley. This year was no exception, but that may leave April’s business a bit short of normal.
Easter this year fell almost as early as it can — March 22 is the earliest possible date. That early Easter and good recent snowfall were two of the biggest elements in a very busy weekend.
Mike Rose, Town of Vail parking manager, said that the town’s parking structures filled by 9:45 a.m. on Saturday and by 10:49 a.m. on Easter Sunday. That left 288 cars parked along the town’s frontage roads on Saturday.
Those who drove up for a day of skiing found bustling base areas.
Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village, said weekend business was so brisk that his shop rented every available board over the weekend.
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“It was busier than Christmas or Presidents’ weekend,” Schleper said.
The weekend put an exclamation point on what Schleper called a “phenomenal winter.”
At the nearby Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum, Director Susie Tjossem said that facility was also bustling over the weekend, as well as the full week prior to Easter.
“It was fabulous,” Tjossem said. “The fact that we had some bad weather (during the week) helped us.”
Tjossem said the previous week helped bring a strong ending to what had already been a strong month. But, Tjossem said, that strong month at the museum was the first this season to equal last season’s visitors — and receipts from the museum’s gift shop.
Still, Tjossem said, she and the rest of the museum’s staff heard plenty of Spanish spoken over the past week. The weeks before and after Easter are traditionally a two-week break for schools in Mexico.
“But we’ve heard languages we haven’t heard before here, too,” Tjossem said.
BEAVER CREEK BUSINESS
The week and Easter weekend were also busy in Beaver Creek, as you’d expect.
Rob Niehaus, general manager at The Metropolitan restaurant in Beaver Creek, said March overall, and the past week in particular, have been strong ones for the restaurant.
That strong March has marked an overall good winter for the business, Niehaus said.
Given the double attractions of spring break and Easter in the same month, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek General Manager Robert Purdy said that hotel filled up over the past week.
“The skiing was phenomenal, so the guest experience was great,” Purdy said. “That should make (Easter) next year even better.”
While expecting a drop in April business, Purdy said he isn’t terribly concerned about Beaver Creek’s April 10 closing date. As demand drops after Easter, so does air service into the Eagle County Regional Airport.
“It just means things were compressed into March,” Purdy said. “But we’ve had a great winter overall.”
EARLY CLOSING DAY
Vail is closing April 10, too, a week or so earlier than usual. Vail Resorts has defended its decision based on post-Easter demand. But Schleper believes good conditions might have something to do with demand, too.
“I’d like to see (Vail Mountain) stay open until the third weekend of April, no matter when Easter is,” Schleper said.
“The skiing is always great in the spring, and we always have snow,” Schleper added. “It would help employees out, too. … If the lifts are done, the businesses are done, too.”
While visitation traditionally drops following Easter, as Front Range skiers’ thoughts turn toward cycling, golf and other warmer-weather pursuits, Tjossem said this season still has the potential to bring more visitors from out of state.
There’s the two-week Easter-season break in Mexico, of course. But, Tjossem said, a number of big school districts in California have scheduled an early-April spring break. Many of those families head to the mountains.
Those families have another two weeks to visit.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.