While things were different this holiday season, the town of Vail was still busy with full parking structures and crowded lift lines.
Vail raised day-of lift ticket prices to $229 per day for Sunday, Jan. 3 and Monday, Jan. 4, a new record in the U.S. Day-of lift ticket purchasers do not need a reservation to ski, and ski reservations were indeed full most days throughout the holiday. For pass holders trying to access the slopes, Vail issued a reminder that if at first they don’t succeed, try again.
And more reservations did become available on a daily basis. Many guests who weren’t able to book ski reservations in advance were able to day-of.
But that didn’t stop some from thinking twice about visiting. Local ski rental shop owner Jay Lucas said while his business was busy, he did have cancellations due to the reservations system.
“I know one guy from Mexico City who didn’t come because his brother was having trouble getting a reservation,” Lucas said.
Lucas said his family-owned shop, Ski Base in Lionshead Village, had a lot of customers from the Midwest and Texas, and knew of a few regular customers from California who didn’t visit this year due to travel restrictions.
“It was busy, not as much as a normal Christmas, but still busy,” Lucas said.
Lucas’ son Halsey, who also works in the shop, said low-snow conditions, surprisingly, didn’t contribute to a lack of interest in skiing at Vail as much as he had assumed.
“Even with low snow before Christmas, people were still coming,” Halsey Lucas said.
Parking structures full
The town of Vail reported six days of full parking structures, with both the Vail and Lionshead structures filling every day from Dec. 29 to Jan. 3. On Dec. 29, 180 cars lined the road; 326 on Dec. 30; 242 on Dec. 31; 405 on Jan. 1; 388 on Jan. 2; and 289 cars lined the road on Jan. 3.
The 2019 holiday saw only two days of full parking structures – 171 cars were parked on the Frontage Road on Dec. 27, 2019, and on Jan. 2, 2020, the street was lined with 402 cars.
Ski rental shops reported steady business, and restaurants – operating at a limited capacity – were forced to turn away guests during peak hours.
Local resident Sam Otteson said dining out on New Year’s Eve, “during the peak times, everywhere was pretty much filled.”
Otteson was able to get a reservation at Yama Sushi, and said he watched person after person turned away at the door for not having a reservation. He said it was hard to watch, knowing the restaurants could use the business, but also was accepting of the fact that COVID-19 spread can be limited by preventing dense crowds at restaurants.
“Most people were fortunately understanding, but some people were confused or expecting, it seemed, to get seated,” he said.
Vail Mountain’s reservations calendar is currently showing full reservations for Saturday, Jan. 9.
“Always check back to see if more reservations become available,” said company spokesperson John Plack.