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Vail pours money into ski season

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Vail Daily fileBooking bigger names at winter concerts like Snow Daze is part of the plan to keep the winter thriving in Vail, Colo.
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VAIL, Colo. ” Putting another half-million dollars toward promoting ski season in Vail could help offset the effects of a struggling economy, officials said Tuesday.

In a special meeting called to address Vail’s response to national economic woes, the Town Council gave a green light to spending up to $550,000 for mailers, ads and concerts.

“The reason we have (financial) reserves is for an emergency,” said Councilwoman Margaret Rogers. “I consider this an emergency.”

Under the plan, about 100,000 mailers would be sent to passholders in December to encourage them to come to Vail. About $50,000 in extra money would be thrown toward events such as Snow Daze and Street Beat to increase the number of concerts and book bigger names.

The goal is to see the same number of hotel stays in Vail this year as last year.

“These were the things that we thought we could do, in a short amount of time, to invest a relatively reasonable amount of money and generate a positive return,” said Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Chris Jarnot, who helped develop the proposal.

“There is no guarantee, especially under the circumstances we’re working with. We can’t sit here and guarantee that if you spend this money you’ll get the same amount of overnight stays you did last year,” Jarnot said.

Hotel reservations are lagging behind last year, and Vail Resorts isn’t sure if people are waiting longer to make reservations or if they’re not going to come at all. However, visits to Vail Resorts’ website continue to be as high as they were last year, Jarnot said.

“They’re just not booking at this point,” Jarnot said. “Are they going to, or are they just continuing to do the research and they might not pull the trigger given the economic situation? People appear to be waiting, either for the situation to change or some significant event ” like snow.”

Council members decided to go along with the recommendations.

“I like what I see, but I agree with Chris ” there’s no guarantee,” Councilman Farrow Hitt said.

The recommendations came after a meeting last week in which a citizens’ group ” which included former Councilman Kent Logan and local developer Harry Frampton ” pushed for the town to put more money toward winter marketing. They also suggested that the town get ready for the next wave of redevelopment after the downturn, which could include Ever Vail, the Lionshead parking structure and even a recreation center.

Local business owners said Tuesday they were pleased with the move toward increased marketing.

Susan Fritz of Sapphire, the restaurant in Vail Village, said she’s hopeful that increased marketing and special deals will bring more people to her restaurant.

“If you get people that were here for three nights and they’re going to get a free night and stay another night, they’ll spend money the whole time they’re here. That’s a great idea,” Fritz said.

Logan and Frampton also suggested last week that Vail and Vail Resorts patch up their at-times rocky relationship. To that end, Town Manager Stan Zemler said Tuesday a bowling night with Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and other officials is being considered.

estoner@vaildaily.com


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