Extended resort weekend buoys Summit County businesses
Ryan Summerlin April 18, 2013
At this time last week, many Summit County residents figured that the winter season had come to an end. Temperatures were warm and the resorts were gearing up for closing day.
Then the weekend hit, bringing with it a superstorm that piled more than a foot of snow on Copper Mountain and Breckenridge Ski Resort. Closing ceremonies, concerts and festivities continued, with Copper and Vail Mountain celebrating 40th and 50th anniversaries, respectively.
But the storm wasn’t finished yet. Both Copper and Breckenridge reported another foot-plus of snow each after closing day, with Vail reporting more than 2 feet.
In response to the sudden increase of snowfall and forecasts that it would continue throughout the week, the three resorts announced that they would briefly reopen for the weekend – April 19, 20 and 21 – giving skiers and riders three more days on the slopes.
The snow also meant the resort towns could expect an influx of visitors at a time when, traditionally, streets are emptying and seasonal staff are leaving the county. The short notice of the resort announcements meant they came too late for some and caused difficulties for others.
Peak Nine Restaurant, for example, closed its doors on Sunday and will not be reopening this season.
“Fortunately, it won’t be affecting me at all, because they’re just opening Peak 8,” said owner Kevin Brown, “which is good because I’d have a very difficult time. My staff, half of them were gone before we closed and the rest of them were leaving shortly thereafter, so I wouldn’t have had anybody to man the place.”
Also, at the end of the season the restaurant gets rid of the rest of its food and stops deliveries, Brown explained. “It would be real hard to start something up for a weekend.”
Restaurants aren’t the only businesses affected by the resorts’ decision to reopen for the weekend. Steve Lapinsohn owns Main Street Outlet, the North Face store and the Columbia store in Breckenridge.
“We have seasonal workers, but they’re done,” he said. He would have liked to give them the option to work additional hours, but there wasn’t enough advance notice.
Fortunately, he has enough year-round staff to keep his businesses open.
“We’re lucky that we haven’t let everybody go on vacation yet. We still have a number of people around. We let a lot of people go, but we do have people who can cover.”
Lapinsohn said his issue isn’t with the act of extending the season, which he believes is a good idea under the circumstances; it’s the lack of advance notice.
“I think it’s a good thing,” he said of the reopening, “but it would have been a better thing had we known about it.”
Nevertheless, Lapinsohn is expecting a “decent weekend” in terms of visitor numbers.
Jennifer Hopkins, owner of the Worldly Traveller, also on Breckenridge’s Main Street, said that she, too, is looking forward to a final push of visitors through town before the off-season.
“I’m glad, I’m definitely glad,” she said. “Any extra reason to give people to actually make the effort and come up is a good thing.”
For businesses catering directly to skiers and riders, like Precision Ski and Golf in Frisco, the extended season is a welcome opportunity.
“Maybe things will rev up over the weekend,” said owner Jim Deines. “That would be great. A little more energy right at the end of the season, that’s a stronger finish.”