Visitors feel the economic pinch |

Visitors feel the economic pinch

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson | kanderson@vaildaily.comLittleton resident Heather McGuire walks with her daughter Bella during the Holidays in Vail celebration Saturday in Lionshead. McGuire said they have a time share in the area that they plan to visit, but they will not spend as much money in town while here due to the economy.

VAIL, Colorado – Pat and Sheela Gallardo are still honoring their family tradition of spending Thanksgiving week in Vail, but they, like many American families these days, are doing things a little bit differently.

The family of six from Missouri is staying in a Vail condominium for a week to celebrate the holidays – that part of their vacation hasn’t changed. But they’ve made some adjustments to their budget as the nation as a whole has felt less and less comfortable spending discretionary dollars.

The Gallardos recognize, however, that they are lucky enough to still have discretionary dollars to spend.

The family bought Epic Passes and will come back to Colorado around spring break for another trip, likely to one of Vail Resorts’ Summit County mountains. Sheela Gallardo said she did the math and as long as the family gets 10 days of skiing in, the Epic Passes are the best deal.

The Gallardos are also packing their lunches now, rather than eating lunch at one of the on-mountain restaurants, Pat Gallardo said.

“And (the economy) is obviously why we’re driving, instead of flying,” he said.

Vail’s villages were lively Saturday for the first major weekend of the 2010-11 season, but parking garages were nowhere close to being full.

Early season snowfall has helped get people excited about the ski season, and hotel reservations are trending up from last year – both good signs for those watching the state of the local economy.

Skier Jace Glick, from Parker, thinks the economy will present more of the same for at least another year or two.

“Skiers who got 10 days, maybe now they’ll get six days,” Glick said.

Glick, who’s in the real estate business and has been watching economic indicators closely, said there are too many areas where the economy needs correcting before we can expect a rebound.

In the real estate industry, which has started to see some rebound, he expects it to take another two or three years before things turn around.

When it does turn around, though, Glick said it’s going to boom.

Ralf Garrison, director of the Mountain Travel Research Program, which studies resort industry trends, said in his most recent newsletter that no one can predict how 2011 will turn out.

“Instead, all we can do is decide how we will both pro-act and react,” Garrison wrote.

Vail Resorts has done both. The company introduced its Epic Pass 2 1/2 years ago – just before the economy crashed. The Epic Pass drummed up more business from the Front Range market just as destination business began to decline – it’s was the perfect formula for that particular economic storm.

Now with signs of recovery, Vail Resorts has refocused its marketing efforts to attract more destination business again.

Vail Marketing Director Adam Sutner has also said the resort wants to always offer the right offer to the right guest at the right time, without ever putting Vail “on sale.”

That kind of effort just might work for people like Elizabeth Owens, from Larkspur. She ended up in Vail at the last minute this weekend because her daughter was in town visiting from college and wanted to take a ski and snowboarding trip for the weekend.

If they didn’t find a deal through a family and friend discount at the Vail Cascade Resort, they might not have come to Vail at all.

And for Isabella Bolotsky, of Los Angeles, the right deal could mean all the difference because she said she has slowed down the frequency of her ski vacations since the economy crashed.

“It’s affected me – I’m definitely going less often,” Bolotsky said.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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