Vail Daily letter: Vail night life lacking
Big “miss” to the loss of Vail Valley nightlife, and the closing of yet another locals-friendly bar before its time, with the closing of Bearfish in West Vail. This joins our community’s loss, in only the past year, of the Ore House, the Tap Room, and so many more watering holes that used to be the heart and soul of a former ski town called Vail. With all the attention given to the upcoming Alpine World Ski Championships in 2015, I wonder how many of those attending, who were here in 1999, will notice the loss of lively options available after 10 p.m. As a taxi driver, I notice it every night.
Just off the top of my head, those here for the 1999 Championships might remember many of the formerly popular and now closed venues in Vail Village, including Sheika’s (now ski lockers), Platzl Bar (now a coffee house), Sanctuary (private ski lockers) The Daily Grind (retail), The Little Bar (retail), Cyrano’s (rental shop), Hong Kong Cafe (rental shop), and of course Garton’s/Club 8150, the incredible live music venue which was promised to be replaced, if Vail residents would only vote to override the planning commission and approve the extra couple of stories to Solaris (the extra stories approval happened, music venue didn’t happen). We’ve also lost the Hot Winter Nights concert series, which brought locals and visitors alike in to the village every Wednesday for top-notch entertainment. I’ve heard the summer concert series is now in danger as well.
In Lionshead, where most of the lodging in Vail is actually located, you might have found several options in 1999 for nightlife, including Gondo’s, Trails End/Powderhounds, Kaltenberg Castle brewery, Doolittles (now the beloved Moe’s, but not open late), Chart House, Uptown Grill, and of course the ultimate ski-bar, the Sundance Saloon. Now, you’re lucky if only Garfinkel’s is still open after dinner! Avon is in danger of losing its largest nightclub, with Montana’s now embroiled in a lawsuit with their new landlord, who wants them closed. Beaver Creek is a virtual ghost town after 9 p.m.
I feel lucky to have moved here in 1993, when Vail was still considered a fun and funky ski town, with crazy events like The Great Race, BB&B, on-mountain hut parties, and multiple options for live music and nightlife almost every night of the winter. Vail used to be a cool destination for spring break college students, but those days seem to be long gone. Spring break now is focused on the family vacation and the K-12 calendar, but gone is the “hip” factor. The upcoming World Ski Championship won’t even have a single event in Vail, apparently due to the now lack of space at the base, which should be embarrassing. Vail has done well catering to the Boomers, who are aging, and most are probably happy to be in bed before midnight. It’s becoming a hard sell to attract the next generation of skiers and riders to want to come and ski, party, vacation, hopefully hook up, and possibly even think about moving and working here. The loss of every ski bar like Bearfish, to yet another timeshare, condo, private locker or T-shirt shop, just hastens our obscurity as a vibrant ski town.
I will give a “hit” to the few places still open late and welcoming to the younger generation, the party crowd, and the world travelers and internationals used to finding a late-night and club scene. Places like the Shakedown Bar, Vendetta’s, Samana Lounge, Garf’s, Loaded Joe’s, Bob’s and The George. Another “hit” to the Vail Town Council for sticking to the zoning code and not allowing sales tax-earning spaces like Concert Hall Plaza to become offices, or the former Tap Room space to become another ski locker. Also a “hit” to the special events and concerts like Snow Daze, Mountain Games, and Winter Wondergrass! But this community needs more than the occasional one-off event, if we expect the next generation to consider this resort area relevant.
Editor’s note: The Nations Team Event will be held at Golden Peak on Vail Mountain during the Alpine World Ski Championships.