Hotel bookings solid for holidays
With it’s global clientele, Eagle County’s winter resorts need just the right alignment of snow, economic and geopolitical factors to have a good season and at the official start of the season, things are looking good.
Advance reservations at area hotels are solid through the Thanksgiving holiday and looking better through the Christmas holiday, too, hoteliers said.
“Thanksgiving is better than last year, but still slower than we used to have – when we filled up,” said Stan Cope of the Lodge Tower in Vail. “Right now, Christmas is looking very good.” He suggested weather, economy and world affairs are in positive alignment.
That’s the consensus of many watching the level of their holiday reservations this season
“The day after Christmas is packed and we expect to be full,” said Rob LeVine of Antlers in Vail.
At the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, which handles townwide reservations, holiday bookings are 30 percent ahead of last year for Thanksgiving.
“We’re pretty optimistic,” said the bureau’s president, Frank Johnson. “Two weeks ago we had inventory in our reservations system. Now we have to check with properties. It’s tightened up quite a bit.”
In the 1990s holiday bookings in the Vail Valley were an entirely different game. It was more a question of getting in line. If you didn’t want to book rooms for a week or longer, you had a tougher time getting a place to stay. All that changed dramatically and it started with the recession that began in 2000 and continued with the terrorism of 2001 that deterred domestic and international travel. Hoteliers, finding they had unrented rooms, resorted to discounting and booking shorter stays to fill them.
“Back in the good old days, we were looking for two week stays,” said LeVine, who has been at Antlers for 25 years. “Now were not only willing to accept shorter stays but we’re discounting (rates) a bit.”
Johnson acknowledged the change, too. “The opportunity in the lodging business now not what they want to sell but more of what the customer is buying,” he said. “They’re buying shorter stays and booking closer to their arrival dates.”
Much of that, hotel industry officials said, is because of online bookings which allow instant reservations.
But there’s another opportunity that LeVine said he is hoping to tap. He’s looking to fill some of the empty rooms between the holiday periods with offers to Colorado’s Front Range skiers who typically drive up, ski and drive back.
Day skiers typically spend less than their destination counterparts. Last summer headlines appeared in Front Range newspapers after a business meeting here where it was suggested that the day skiers were less than welcome in Vail.
Since then the town and ski company have initiated a new program to embrace Front Range Skiers called “Vail Values,” which offers incentives to visiting Front Range Skiers to stay and enjoy the area.
Cliff Thompson can be reached at 970-949-0555 x450 or firstname.lastname@example.org