Mountain resorts headed for another lodging record
DENVER — Along with a steady march toward a fifth consecutive record for aggregated lodging occupancy and revenues at western mountain resorts this summer, the 19 destinations participating in the Denver-based DestiMetrics program are also approaching occupancy figures that rival winter levels. Those destinations include Vail and Beaver Creek.
“Occupancy rates for summer 2015 reached 92.5 percent of occupancy rates for the winter of 2015-’16, indicating nearly identical room utilization between the two seasons,” said Tom Foley, operations director for DestiMetrics. “As we track occupancy figures that are likely to set another record in the summer of 2016, we’ll look for that gap between summer and winter occupancy to get even closer. But, although summer occupancy figures are strong and growing steadily, the average daily rate for summer compared to winter is not at the same level.”
Summer average daily rates are about 57 percent of winter levels.
Bump in Occupancy
While the summer calendar had only reached the halfway point as of July 31, the booking season is almost entirely complete, with 96.8 percent of all revenue booked for summer 2016 now already on the books for this summer, with three months to go.
In a year-over-year comparison to 2015, overall occupancy for this summer is up 7.4 percent and revenues are up 14.3 percent. The months of May and September are seeing the biggest bump in occupancy while both of those months, along with July, are enjoying the largest increases in revenues.
Figures for July alone made a solid contribution to the summer scorecard with occupancy up 5 percent and revenues up 11.6 percent compared to the same time last year.
“As we watch yet another summer season shape up for the record books, we’re delighted to see that the ‘season of opportunity’ that we first discussed in depth (in) 2013 is materializing with consistent growth and strength,” DestiMetrics director Ralf Garrison said. “The summer and shoulder season months have clearly emerged as destination periods in their own right and these mountain resort communities are now positioned as bona fide year-round destinations when not so long ago they were viewed almost solely as ski towns.”
However, the pace of bookings during the month of July for reservations for arrival in all upcoming months declined 7.9 percent compared to July of 2015. Part of that dip is attributed to longer lead-times for vacationers who booked their mountain holidays earlier than in recent years, leaving less availability and fewer opportunities for last-minute reservations.
Partial credit for the robust summer lodging activity was also given to the performance of the U.S. domestic economy in July. The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high and was up 2.8 percent from June, while employers added 285,000 new jobs during the month. The Consumer Confidence Index, which has waffled up and down for the past 12 months, was essentially flat, declining a slight 0.1 point and revealing that consumers continue to feel positive about current economic conditions.
“Mountain resort communities have been working hard to grow the summer and fall season and are being rewarded with a much greater level of interest and visits to these communities,” Garrison said. “Their efforts are proving to be very successful and we expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.”
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.