Vail sees hope for summer season |

Vail sees hope for summer season

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. ” For the first time in many years, some Vail, Colo. restaurants and hotels are closing their doors during “mud season,” when business slows down between the ski season and Memorial Day weekend.

Historically, many businesses tend to take breaks during that time, said Jason Peters of the Vail Chamber and Business Association. However, he suspects this year that list will be a bit longer, he said.

“I think more might close this year,” he said. “And I sense that more will be scaling back to skeleton hours and crew.

La Tour restaurant usually stays open after the mountain closes, but this year the restaurant will close at the end of the season and reopen June 1, said owner Lourdes Ferzacca.

“We usually we run a special, and we count on a lot of locals to support us, but with the economy this year, we don’t have the customers to bring in,” she said.

However, business is expected to pick up at Zacca Za!, the family-style Italian restaurant she and her husband own in Avon.

“With more locals moving downvalley, people just aren’t coming up to Vail as much,” she said. “But we really have the heart of the locals down there, and we’ll be running mud season specials everyday.”

As big group and corporate trips dwindle, some hotels will also temporarily be closing their doors.

Manor Vail near Golden Peak will closing for five weeks until Memorial Day weekend, said general manager Bob McCleary.

“We just don’t have a lot of groups coming, and it’s not really a busy time anyway,” he said. “It’s been a tough winter anyhow. Indications are that the summer’s looking pretty good, and that’s an encouragement.”

Other businesses say they aren’t sure what to expect after the mountain closes, but they plan to stay open.

Locals will still frequent the restaurants that are open, said Tap Room owner Steve Kaufman.

“We never really shut down,” he said “It’s the prime time for the locals with all the basketball and hockey playoffs. I think that the more businesses that are open, the better. That way there are more employees in town walking around and doing stuff.”

As one of the few restaurants that will be open for lunch, Sweet Basil owner Matt Morgan said he’s counting on some local business as well.

The restaurant will only close for a few days for its customary clean-up and maintenance, he said.

“Usually we also get some small group (vacations) that target the off-seasons,” Morgan said. “But in this economic environment, I’m not sure how many of those groups will be coming. We really don’t know what it will look like.”

Frank Johnson, general manager of Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa in the village, said the hotel, spa and Terra Bistro restaurant will all remain open, even though advance reservations for May are few.

“Our philosophy has been that we’re really a 365-day-a-year operation,” he said. “It’s very difficult to ratchet yourself down and then back up. It’s just better to be consistent and operate on a reduced scale than to actually physically close.”

Some worry that the post-season lull will have a bigger impact than usual. Ferzacca said she thinks some businesses may close for good this summer.

“We’re here for the long run, but I think some people will really think about it and see if it’s worth it to stay open,” she said.

Antlers general manager Rob LeVine agreed that some businesses may shut down permanently, and others will take breaks for the first time, but most Vail businesses will make it through.

“It used to be that the day after the mountain closed, if you saw a car moving, any sign of life, you noticed it,” he said. “But each year a few more businesses have stayed open and one or two will go out of business. It might be a few more this year, but you have to keep it in perspective.”

Buzz Schleper of Buzz’s Boards said he thinks local business would really benefit if the mountain stayed open a bit longer.

“If Vail wanted to keep the town alive, my suggestion would be to keep the Vista Bahn and Chairs 3, 4 and 11 open. There would be plenty of employees that would stay, and if not there are plenty of locals who need jobs,” he said.

He would definitely keep his store open, he said.

“Any business is better than no business, and no business is where we’re headed.”

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