March business a mixed bag in Aspen |

March business a mixed bag in Aspen

Scott CondonVail, CO, Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen Skiing Co. is heading into the heart of the ski season the time that determines success or failure with a mixed bag of business prospects.Last week was slower on the slopes than usual, but the rest of February is shaping up to be a monster, said Skico Mountain Division Senior Vice President David Perry.Presidents Day weekend slid right into Mardi Gras, providing a very busy one-two punch that will linger through the end of February, Perry said.As it stands now, March will come in like a lamb and go out like a lion at least from a business perspective.The first half of March is slower than expected, Perry said. The second half looks strong, and the flurry of activity should carry into the first week of April, according to hotel occupancy reports and other business indicators.Overall, reservations for March are on pace with historical levels, Perry said. Thats important because March is so important to the bottom line of a ski area.As former Skico President and Chief Executive Officer Pat ODonnell used to explain it, the company typically toils away from Thanksgiving to March to cover its costs. In an average year, March determines how much profit the company makes.Perry agreed. March will make or break your year, he said.March is so busy during the last half of the month because spring break falls later than usual for many schools this year, Perry said.The Skico and its marketing partners in the lodging industry havent given up on the first half of the month. They mounted a special campaign in several cities to hustle up additional business. They targeted key markets for destination skiers, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Phoenix. There is direct air service between Aspen and each of those cities.For the season, Perry said the Skicos skier and snowboarder visits are lagging slightly behind last seasons solid performance. The Skico would be logging better numbers than last year if not for two big snowstorms that paralyzed Denver International Airport in December and hampered travel and a rash of flight cancellations at the Aspen airport.Scott Condons e-mail address is

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