Visitor numbers in Vail, Beaver Creek still strong following New Year’s holiday
VAIL — If you were happy with holiday visitors this season, you can go ahead and tell them, because they’re still here.
Vail has not slowed down since New Year’s Day came and went, as evidenced by the large number of cars parked along the frontage roads over the last few days.
On Tuesday, 224 cars spilled out of the parking garages and onto the frontage roads, not a surprise to many considering it was a federal holiday. But when the count increased to 265 the next day, it was evident that the holiday spirit was set to extend into the weekend. On Thursday, the count was 317.
Town of Vail Parking Supervisor Ethan Arnold said he expects to see the number continue to climb through Saturday.
Vail’s parking structures also filled on Dec. 25, 27, 28 and 29.
“Even on days we didn’t go to the road we came close to filling the roughly 2,200 parking spaces we have,” Arnold said.
Hotel occupancy valleywide was at roughly 80 percent on Thursday, said Chris Romer, with the Vail Valley Partnership.
“That’s very high for a mid-week period,” Romer said.
Located near the bottom of Gondola One, Simone Larese, of Blu Cow, a business that has been in Eagle County since the early days, said steady crowds continued following New Year’s Day.
“I definitely feel like there’s more visitors in Vail than normal this holiday season,” Larese said.
PREDICTABLE, BUT STILL UNUSUAL
Mark Herron, with the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek, said the crowds were especially welcome this year, because the hotel was able to prepare for it.
Herron said the fact that many school districts in Colorado do not return to class until Monday, coupled with the abundant snow Beaver Creek received in the early season, were obvious indicators that they would need to prepare for a large number of visitors.
“When we know, like we did this year, it really helps,” Herron said. “We were able to provide the quality of service the guests expect because we know we’re going to sell out.”
It would appear that Beaver Creek anticipated the large visitor numbers to continue throughout the week, as well, as the resort kept its Cheer programming running through Saturday, culminating with the movie “Frozen” playing on Saturday night at 5:15 p.m. in the village plaza.
“Beaver Creek has really made an effort to attract families,” Herron said. “That’s the reason we might be a little bit busier, because so many families come to Beaver Creek.”
The Park Hyatt sold out from Dec. 22 to Jan. 9 this season.
“To have a sell out that many days in a row is unusual,” Herron said.
The hotel had a group buy out the property from Sunday through Wednesday next week, and its loyalty program has seen an uptick this year, Herron said. The timing of Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on a Tuesday helped, as well.
“We had guests coming in five-day blocks, including the weekend before or the weekend following,” Herron said.
But most of all, “you have to factor a lot of it to our snow,” Herron said. “As much as we’d like to think it’s our marketing and everything we do, Mother Nature still holds the cards.”
Jessie Vandenhouten, a communications manager with Vail and Beaver Creek, said the season started out strong with early openings at Vail and Beaver Creek and has continued with more than 100 inches of natural snowfall at both resorts.
“In addition to some of the best conditions in the last decade, the villages at Vail and Beaver Creek have come alive with festive events for families like Vail Holidays, Beaver Creek Extraordinaire presents Cheer, and this Friday, the debut of the 10th Mountain Legacy Parade in Vail,” she said.
The 10th Mountain Legacy Parade will begin at 6 p.m., with skiers dressed in traditional 10th Mountain Division Ski Trooper uniforms performing a torchlight ski down to the base of Gondola One, followed by a parade of military veterans, also in traditional uniform, marching from Gondola One down Bridge Street, across the Covered Bridge and finishing at the 10th Mountain statue.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.