Aspen lodging forecast still uncertain |

Aspen lodging forecast still uncertain

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado – If the crystal ball placed on the table at Tuesday’s Aspen Chamber Resort Association board meeting was cloudy, resort officials hope it portends a snowy winter.

Resort officials and representatives of the lodging industry aren’t sure what to expect in terms of ski season business, but sometimes the unexpected exceeds expectations.

Last-minute bookings for Labor Day weekend produced the highest occupancy rates the resort has seen since last winter’s X Games, reported ACRA board member Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.

As of Aug. 31, occupancy for the holiday weekend stood at 81 percent, Tomcich said. He didn’t yet have the final tally, but Stay Aspen Snowmass took 167 reservations in the final two weeks before the weekend.

“Labor Day weekend caught us by surprise. They all waited until the last minute, but they came,” said Tomcich, who produced a small crystal ball from a box and called the coming winter one of “unknowns and uncertainties.”

David Perry, senior vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., predicted the first half of the winter, in particular, would be a struggle and said the company will have to work hard just to equal last season’s numbers, when the Skico logged a 7.6 percent drop in skier visits, compared to the prior winter.

“Everybody asks us, what’s going to happen this winter? We just don’t know,” said Warren Klug, general manager of the Aspen Square Condominium Hotel and chairman of the ACRA board. “There’s a lot of space to sell. The phones are ringing, we’re getting calls, but they’re not coming in as fast as we’d like.”

Bookings will pick up once the snow starts falling, Tomcich predicted, though business has already picked up at the reservations agency in the past week.

Incidentally, snow is in the forecast tonight and Thursday in Aspen.

Last-minute bookings will continue to be the norm for vacationers, Tomcich added.

That has been the story at the Limelight Lodge, said co-owner Dale Paas, a lodging representative on the ACRA board.

“If we’re empty for three days, one of those days, we’ll fill up to the max. The other two days, we’re empty,” he said. “Don’t ask me.”

Visitors are looking for deals, Tomcich added. Stay Aspen Snowmass has seen record visits to its website as consumers shop for lodging and travel packages, but they haven’t necessarily booked their stays through the agency, he said.

So, Stay Aspen Snowmass is now guaranteeing it will match the price consumers find elsewhere for an Aspen/Snowmass vacation, Tomcich said.

Support Local Journalism