Business picking up in Vail as season begins
December 11, 2009
VAIL, Colo. – Snow Daze is kind of the unofficial kick-off to ski season in Vail and local businesses and hotels are welcoming it, although not necessarily reaping the benefits just yet.
Hotels and lodges in town are all across the board in terms of weekend occupancy rates. The Tivoli Lodge is completely full for the weekend, while Hotel Gasthof Gramshammer has about four rooms booked out of 39 for the weekend, according to a manager there.
The Roost Lodge, one of Vail’s more inexpensive lodging choices, is booked at about 40 percent this weekend. General Manager Juan Fregoso said things have been slower in general compared to last year.
“I blame it on the economy,” Fregoso said. “We remodeled most of our rooms and we have better service, we’re just waiting for people to come in.”
Marketing seemed to be key for the Tivoli, which is also the host hotel for two of the bands in town for Snow Daze, said reservations manager Kim Newbury.
“We were very aggressive in trying to book people into the hotel,” Newbury said.
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Jeanne Fritch, the general manager of the Sitzmark Lodge, said the Sitzmark has also been doing a lot of marketing and last-minute deals. It looks like it’s paying off, she said.
“This weekend we’re looking, finally, pretty good,” she said. “It’s been pretty slow up until this point.”
By the time Snow Daze came around last year, Vail had seen a lot more snowfall. Fritch suspects her business has been affected by a lack of snow this winter so far, but she’s hoping for a storm soon.
El Nino years, like this one, haven’t typically been too good for Vail, though, she said, so she’s watching and waiting for some storms to hit.
Jim Glendining, owner of The George, a Vail Village pub, is optimistic for weekend business. Wednesday night’s Snuggie Pub Crawl was a great way to kick off the festivities, as business was good, he said.
“This week has been a lot better,” Glendining said. “I’m expecting the whole weekend to be good – it’s our type of crowd that comes to Snow Daze, so we do pretty well with it.”
The Double Diamond Ski Shop in Lionshead is expecting larger crowds this weekend, too, said manager Matt Carroll. The shop has been steady, but this time of year is typically slower in terms of the rest of the winter, he said.
“With the [new] snow and getting more terrain open, I think we’re expecting things to pick up,” Carroll said.
Over at Buzz’s Boards in Vail Village, business is picking up “a little,” said manager Neil Conroy. There have been more rentals in the last two weeks, but skis and other merchandise sales are still flat, he said. Tuning has been steady because of all the rocks on the mountain right now, Conroy said.
“It definitely has not gotten busy yet,” Conroy said. “We’re hoping it picks up [this weekend with Snow Daze].”