EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - In dog-bites-man news, the Vail Valley is just about booked up for the Presidents Day weekend. But rooms seem to be going fast for the rest of the season, too.
At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, sales and marketing manager Scott Gubrud said right now might be the best time to book a trip the third week of March, but rooms will be scarce the rest of the month.
Presidents Day always books up well in advance, but snow seems to be driving reservations for the rest of the season.
Gubrud said the Hyatt's reservations were running "way behind" the previous season's pace in November, due no doubt to a bad snow season in 2011-12 and scarce snow on the ground last fall. Some well-timed storms in January and this month have made up for that early-season slump, Gubrud said.
Now, "other than some little mid-week pockets," Gubrud said the Hyatt is full for much of the rest of the season.
At The Sebastian in Vail, general manager Lance Thompson told much the same story - a full house for the holiday, and strong reservations through the end of March.
Thompson said the hotel lobby was swamped on Valentines Day, shortly after the daily American Airlines flight from Dallas had touched down at the Eagle County Regional Airport. Many of those guest were first-timers to Vail.
Thompson said a lot of reservations at The Sebastian these days are from returning guests, adding that many of those reservations were made before the well-timed snowstorms of the past several weeks.
On the other hand, plenty of people started booking rooms close to their travel dates when the national economy fell apart in 2008. That trend hasn't gone away.
For proof, look to the weekend of Feb. 9 and 10. The weekend before Presidents Day isn't generally considered a big one, but both Vail and Beaver Creek were packed, thanks to some timely snow.
"We're really snow farming," Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said. "(Feb. 9) had to be one of the busiest days of the year. The days when it snows, we're seeing it."
Those last-minute reservations have started to fill in the week after the Monday holiday. Romer said Tuesday through Saturday bookings were up over the same period last year.
"The fact that we've had snow at the right times, plus the fact that guests are here is creating a buzz," Gubrud said.
That buzz may be adding up to a strong finish for February, Thompson said.
"I think it's going to be a very, very, good month," Thompson said.
Everyone expects March bookings to be strong, thanks to spring break and Easter, but reservations often drop off after that first "spring" holiday, when many thoughts turn to golf and other warm-weather pursuits.
But, Thompson said, don't be surprised if the ski season finishes stronger than expected - if the weather cooperates.
"The first couple of weeks in April aren't bad," he said. "If we get any kind of significant snow, we'll do well."
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.