In a typical year, Tracy Purdy helps people buy and sell homes and manages some 75 short and long-term rental properties in and around Leadville.
This year she became an IT specialist unexpectedly and practically overnight.
Throughout the summer and fall, Purdy has received calls from people seeking to book one of her company’s Lake County vacation rentals in the mountains. And they all have a specific question: what’s the wifi up there?
That’s how Purdy found herself running to vacation home after vacation, running internet speed tests, and texting screenshots of the exact upload and download speeds at each property to potential visitors.
“It’s a very direct and specific question – it’s not a question to get around,” said Purdy, who owns Independence Realty & Property Management with her husband Andrew and serves as chairman of the Leadville / Lake Chamber of Commerce. of the province.
Like it many parts of Colorado, Leadville is seeing a massive increase in the number of tourists staying for weeks and months at a time, taking advantage of their newfound freedom to work and study remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic. A special name has even been devised for this type of hybrid work-learn-play travel: flexcations.
Flexcations is one of the hottest travel trends spurred by the pandemic. Across Colorado, hotels, resorts, ranches, and campgrounds offer special packages in hopes of enticing itinerant professionals and their children.
Their pitch? If you can work and learn anywhere, why not do it here in beautiful Colorado?
For travelers, flexcations are part vacation, part mobile classroom, part satellite office. Families with young children can take advantage of Colorado’s many historical, artistic, cultural and outdoor offerings to complement virtual homework – it’s like one, long (and fun!) Excursion.
Working professionals can stare at Zoom all day and then take to the sun to take advantage of Colorado’s expansive wilderness and recreational opportunities.
Meanwhile, accommodation providers are getting a much-needed boost in business after a challenging summer, which is usually their best season. While Governor Jared Polis considered hotels essential during the pandemic, many closed for a period of time in the spring and summer because fewer people were traveling.
“It’s really a longer travel period,” said Abby Leeper, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Tourism Office. “Historically, summer has been the busiest travel season for Colorado. But now that travelers and their children are not constrained by a classroom, they do have the flexibility to move to another destination and continue that education. It makes for an elongated, not necessarily summer season, but it provides more options for those destinations that wouldn’t necessarily keep traveling during this time. “
As of March, the Colorado Tourist Office has stopped marketing travel in other states as usual, but that didn’t stop out-of-state visitors from taking flexcations here.
In Leadville, for example, there are so many new visitors that it is normal for people to mispronounce the town’s name as “Leed-ville,” Purdy said.
A luxury hotel at the base of Snowmass Mountain, Viceroy Snowmass sees many visitors from Texas, Florida, Arizona, and other states staying for one to two months. Many of these guests are working professionals and couples who want more privacy and space than what’s available in downtown Aspen.
To this end, the Viceroy offers an extended stay package that includes no taxes (a 12% discount), discount on parking and resort fees, and access to exclusive offers and the hotel’s VIP experience manager.
“A big driving factor is that they leave their home after they are closed, but in an area that offers many activities that allow for natural social distance,” said Elizabeth Smith, leisure sales manager at Viceroy Snowmass. “Most of the guests work here during the week and then enjoy all that the area has to offer on weekends.”
Coloradans also book extended stays at the state’s hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals. The Colorado Tourism Office is putting together a series of curriculum-based itineraries for families with kindergarten through fifth grade children who may be looking for an educational boost on their road trip; Likewise, Boulder’s Convention and Visitors Bureau created a list of excursion ideas organized by educational themes such as aerospace, geology, physics, art, and social justice.
The YMCA of the Rockies and Snow Mountain Ranch began marketing their cabins as the perfect place to work and learn remotely, including for extended families, groups, and learning pods. (Note: Both the Rockies YMCA and Snow Mountain Ranch were closed due to the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires and are reopening with limited services. Make sure to call ahead for the most up-to-date information .)
Snow Mountain Ranch also began offering family adventure packages, which included 15 to 30-minute self-guided activities that families could complete on-site while learning about topics like orienteering, tree health, and diversity.
The YMCA of the Rockies, meanwhile, created an outdoor education curriculum with free science and ecology kits for students in the fourth through eighth grades. These self-guided classes are in line with Colorado state standards and cover topics such as moose ecology, outdoors, forest ecology. The Y also offers staff-led educational classes and classes for families.
For a more luxurious experience, Hotel Jerome in Aspen and Madeline Hotel & Residences in Telluride offer personal and virtual tutoring services through a partnership with Advantage Testing (tutoring rates start at $ 195 per hour). Students can work one-on-one with a tutor from their suite or participate in small group learning sessions.
The resorts also offer adult education courses from computer science to literature. Guests can take advantage of a dedicated corporate concierge who will assist them in setting up a work-from-hotel office complete with a computer monitor, wireless mouse, keyboard, charging station and whiteboard. The concierge is available 24/7 for IT questions and to assist with printing and office supplies.
The resorts are also creating gourmet lunch boxes for daily delivery, built around each guest’s work or school schedule.
“We are seeing an increase in longer stay bookings for guests seeking a balance between working and learning from a distance and discovering and reconnecting the outdoors,” said John Volponi, regional vice president of the Auberge Resorts Collection . “It is a real joy and renewed inspiration to be in a new environment, and we are honored to be a welcoming home, office and classroom away from home for our guests.”
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