More flights, larger buildings

Publication: VailDaily.Com; Date: 08/16/2005

By Scott N. Miller

EAGLE COUNTY - A look in the valley's crystal ball reveals more flights into Eagle, bigger buildings in Vail, and even more intense marketing campaigns.

That's the view from a recent panel discussion about the valley's future held at the Cordillera Valley Club.

The discussion was hosted by the local chapter of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, and featured speakers who have their hands in several parts of the local economy.

Barring any national or international disasters that keep people off airplanes, the immediate to middle future looks bright, at least from the perspective of those on the panel. Here are their views:

Bob McNichols, developer of One Willow Bridge Road:
“This is a place in a constant state of change,” said McNichols, who has skied Vail since it opened in 1962.

“It’s a desirable place, but with the price of admission, we will probably see more big projects. The price of land in the village is too high now for any more straight (hotel) projects.”

But that clash between old and new shouldn’t be an excuse for letting older buildings deteriorate, he said.

“I think some people use ‘charm’ as a euphemism for deferred maintenance,” he said.

Vail's mayor says extensive construction in the village and Lionshead has not scared off tourists, but has hurt some merchants in the area. One developer expects larger buildings to be built at the resort.
Maisie Crow/Vail Daily file photo

• Darren Cole, director of travel and individual sales, Vail Resorts:
Summer flights, first from American Airlines, then from United Airlines, have “really spurred summer growth,” Cole said. “The future is only going to get better.”

Most of the summer passengers are second homeowners, Cole said.

While more people will come to the valley through Eagle, the majority will still come through Denver International Airport, Cole said.

There are simply more choices. That means state and local officials must find a solution to weekend congestion on Interstate 70.


• Ian Anderson, Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau:
Group business is finally, and slowly, coming back, and is almost at the levels seen before Sept. 11, 2001.

“We’re finally seeing bookings two and three years in advance,” Anderson said.

The fact Vail is dotted with large and small construction sites hasn’t seemed to affect reservations, Anderson said.

But, with the continued downvalley migration of full-time residents, Anderson said business in Vail Village may be a more seasonal than it’s ever been.

“Locals go to Edwards. It’s really happening now,” he said.

• Sybill Navas, director, Vail Commission on Special Events.
“Our special events funding at the town used to be at $20,000, and nobody used it,” Navas said. “Now the town puts $600,000 a year into special events.”

Put together with funding from the Vail Valley Foundation, the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, the Vail International Dance Festival and other sponsors, about $2 million a year is spent on events now.

What’s needed now is better places for events, she said.

“The redevelopment in Vail is an opportunity for better venues,” Navas said. “We’re missing an indoor performance facility now.”

One of the challenges to bringing events to the area is just what those events are.

“In a community like Vail it’s difficult to please everyone,” Navas said. “The challenge is to offer a diverse plate of things.”


• Rod Slifer, Vail mayor, founding partner of Slifer, Smith and Frampton Real Estate:
The real estate market isn’t just hot in Eagle County, Slifer said. It’s sizzling just about everywhere.

“There are some areas of the country where values are increasing faster than they are here,” he said.

While there’s plenty of new construction, in Vail “the name of the game is re-development,” Slifer said.

That construction is having an effect on other businesses, especially in Lionshead around the massive new Arrabelle at Vail Square project.

“The impact on the businesses there is very real,” Slifer said. “It’s difficult to get people to the west side there.”

Slifer, who was also Vail’s mayor from 1978 to 1985, said life on the town council is different now than it was then.

“It was easier then,” he said.

Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com