VR extends kids free promotion and drops fees for cancellations | SummitDaily.com

VR extends kids free promotion and drops fees for cancellations

SUMMIT COUNTY – With war anxiety on their minds, skiers considering making reservations for a ski vacation later this spring are balking because of penalties for cancellations – so Vail Resorts and other reservations-takers are dropping the fees.

Vail Resorts (VR) and Colorado-based RockResorts announced Wednesday they will waive cancellation fees for travel booked through June 1. VR also will suspend cancellation fees on advance purchases of lift tickets at all of its ski areas.

In addition, VR announced Friday it would extend the Kids Fly Free, Stay Free and Ski Free promotion through April 6. The marketing offer attracts families with children under 12, giving them free companion plane and lift tickets. The promotion is a partnership with American and United airlines.

“People have been specifically asking about the cancellation fees,” said VR spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga. “They’re interested, but they’re worried. And they’ve told us, if you take that one worry out, we’re much more willing to make a reservation.”

The announcement came as international leaders pressed closer to war Wednesday: Saddam Hussein urging Iraqis to dig trenches in their gardens if U.S. soldiers invade, United Nations chief weapons inspection leader Hans Blix saying Iraq could cooperate further after bombs were turned over and U.S. diplomats pressing the U.N. Security Council for a second resolution on acting against Iraq.

“The threat of war has paralyzed the economy for several months,” said Bill Wishowski, director of operations at the Breckenridge Resort Chamber. “And the recent snowfall hasn’t had the impact we’d like.”

Reservations-takers said bookings have been up and down this season, with some key holiday periods approaching average. But overall, numbers are down. Reservations company managers said, however, it’s more than war.

“Is the primary cause war? No, I don’t think so,” said Peter Schutz, Summit County ResortQuest president. “It’s the soft economy. With the feeder market and the drive-to business we still get in Summit, once somebody makes up their mind which way this (Iraq) thing’s going to go, they’ll still go on vacation. The bigger kick is people that don’t have jobs – there’s professional, white-collar people out their who just can’t go skiing like they did a couple years ago.”

Schutz said ResortQuest is dropping cancellation fees in its 38 companies nationwide to accommodate travelers worried about war.

Wishowski said the BRC, as an agent, is not waiving fees as a matter of policy, but the company is working with property managers to offer guests flexibility.

Anxiousness might be getting the better of Summit County residents, too. Some travel agents report fewer numbers of locals heading to sunny and sandy locales in the coming months than the same periods in years past. But economic – not military – factors are driving decisions.

“Personally, what I’m seeing, Summit County isn’t in jitters about the international scene,” said Carlson Wagonlit Travel manager Suzi Mirus, who added that many cruise lines she deals with are dropping cancellation fees, as well. “Half my business this time of year is people going to Mexico, and that’s way down. I don’t know – if I could go, I’d be there in a heartbeat.”

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or rwilliams@summitdaily.com.

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