X factor gives winter bump to Glenwood, Carbondale
The Rockstar, Monster and Red Bull energy drink banners are flying full force in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, which can mean only one thing: It’s Winter X Games time, as those and other key athlete sponsors roll out the colors at gas station convenience stores up and down the Roaring Fork Valley.
As the annual winter extreme sports extravaganza that’s held in late January or early February has grown over the years since it first came to Aspen’s Buttermilk Mountain in 2002, the event’s impact on Glenwood and other downvalley communities has grown, as well.
“It’s become a huge weekend for us, with all the people coming through for X Games and many of them choosing to stay here,” said Lisa Langer, tourism marketing director for Glenwood Springs.
“It all happens organically, too; there’s no real marketing push for it on our part,” she said. “We tend to get the business naturally because of our more reasonable room rates and some of the attractions that we have.”
X Games still isn’t the biggest winter weekend of the season for Glenwood Springs in terms of lodging numbers and tourism. That distinction usually goes to New Year’s Eve or the combined Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day weekend in February, Langer said.
The spring break stretch from mid-March to early April is also big, but X Games is certainly competitive as far as the wintertime lineup of revenue-producing events goes for Glenwood.
“We’re booked solid and have been for a few weeks now,” said Barbara Hille, manager at the Caravan Inn located on Grand Avenue toward the south end of town, providing a convenient base camp for spectators and relatives of some of the athletes.
“It’s fun to talk to them and get to know them,” Hille said. “We’ve had one family that’s been staying with us for 10 years now.
“Aside from summer, this is our biggest weekend and it really creates a nice spike in occupancy and revenues for the winter season,” she said.
John Miernicki, operations manager at the Days Inn Carbondale, said that X Games in the past has drawn a lot of the advance team that is in town to set up for the event for several weeks ahead of time.
“Starting yesterday, we were getting a lot of the snowmobilers coming in early to go up and ride the course,” he said. “We’re pretty much sold out, and it’s easily the biggest winter weekend for us economically.”
That stands to reason when comparing room rates in Aspen for X Games weekend that can top $3,000 or $4,000 a night to the Days Inn rate of $279.
“Once people see that they start working their way downvalley,” Miernicki said, adding that the $279 rate is a lot higher than the lodge’s usual rate, plus customers can get a minimum length of stay.
Renowned X Gamers who’ve stayed at the Carbondale lodge include freestyle skier Tanner Hall and snowmobile racer Daniel Bodin.
“They party all night in Aspen and show up in the morning with a gold medal around their neck,” Miernicki said.
The party lifestyle of some of the athletes and their entourage has resulted in some security changes in recent years for the Days Inn, he added.
“It’s a boom for us, but it’s also kind of scary because you have all these kids coming here unsupervised with beer and drugs,” Miernicki said.
These days, he said he and his brothers who co-own the lodge hire a security guard and have Carbondale police close at hand in case there are any problems.
“It’s worth the expense to not find 30 kids in a torn up room in the morning,” he said.
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