Mountain News: Breckenridge tops Vail 

By Allen Best

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – For the third time in the last quarter-century, Breckenridge has led the United States in skier visits.

Breckenridge this past season registered 1.65 million skier visits, compared to 1.60 million for Vail. After surpassing Mammoth Mountain in the 1970s, Vail has mostly held the title of most-visited resort.

Vail’s skier numbers have not increased markedly in 15 years — despite the largest ski area expansion ever in North American history. Breckenridge, in contrast, has gained significantly, and so has Beaver Creek, which this past season reported 890,000 skier days.

The big story this season was the growth in destination skiers, which in turn allowed Vail Resorts to increase profits 15 per cent for February, March, and April, as compared to the same quarter last year. The company also reports an increase of lift ticket and pass sales from September through April of 9.1 per cent.


Aspen homes getting bigger

ASPEN, Colo. – Average home prices in Pitkin County, where Aspen and Snowmass are located, are about 25 years ahead of the rest of the country.

While the average size of a new house built in the United States topped 2,400 square feet in 2005, Pitkin County topped that level 25 years ago, reports The Aspen Times.

The average house size as of 2005 was 5,203 square feet.

Real-estate agents tell the newspaper there are several reasons. One, with lot prices now running $400,000 or more, homebuilders putting up spec homes often construct as big a house as government regulations will allow, to justify the investment. Also, increasing numbers of people are retiring to their vacation homes, and as such want more space.

Elsewhere in the Roaring Fork Valley, the same phenomenon of upsizing is also noted in the mid-valley area, where homes being built this year are nearly 800 square feet larger than they were just a year ago.

If the general trend remains larger, there is also a greater awareness of sustainable issues. Michael Ernemann, an architect in Aspen for 35 years, says more clients want to take advantage of solar-orientation and some even have asked for solar photovoltaic and micro-hydroelectric energy.


E-mails questionable

PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. – Was the environmental review of a road across Forest Service to service a real estate development near the Wolf Creek Ski Area prejudiced to the outcome?

That’s the suggestion in e-mail communications released this past week by Colorado Wild, a watchdog group that opposes the project for 2,200 housing units being planned by billionaire B.J. “Red” McCombs.

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