Report: Western resorts tracking ahead of last season’s pace for hotel bookings
The Aspen Times
No early snow? No problem for western U.S. ski resorts.
Advanced reservations for November through May are up 6.6 percent and revenues are up 13.3 percent compared to the same time last year at 19 mountain destinations tracked by DestiMetrics, a Denver research firm. Its clients include Aspen Snowmass.
Occupancy is currently showing increases in five of the six months of winter. The heart of ski season — December, January and February — are all showing occupancy and revenue increases from last season, according to the report.
DestiMetrics noted that warm, dry weather in October throughout the West didn’t deter people from booking trips. The pace was 4 percent better than last year for bookings made during the month.
“We are in an interesting period right now as we wait to see how the outcome of the presidential election and weather patterns influence bookings in the coming weeks and months,” said Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “Lodging operators at western mountain resorts are getting somewhat concerned about the recent warm conditions and lack of snow but as of Oct. 31, there is no evidence that the booking pace is slowing down or that winter occupancy or revenues are being affected.”
Garrison said “positive snow equity” from last season is helping drive early bookings. Many people who hit the slopes last season experienced good snow conditions, so that made them more confident in a good return trip. Western mountain destination resorts are “well-positioned for another very good start to the season,” Garrison concluded in DestiMetric’s report.
Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservations business, reported that paid occupancies for November are pacing ahead of last year at Aspen and Snowmass Village. Like DestiMetrics, he reported that lack of pre-season snow hasn’t scared off prospective customers.
“No matter how you slice it, advance bookings for this winter look really strong,” Tomcich wrote in his report on Nov. 15. “Stay Aspen Snowmass continues on a record pace since 2008 by every measure, and it seems that our demand has been virtually up-phased by either last week’s election results or this unusually prolonged Indian Summer we are currently experiencing.”
Indian Summer came to an abrupt half and snow started falling Thursday, a week before the scheduled start of ski season. Colder temperatures give a renewed hope that enough snowmaking can occur to complement whatever natural falls to allow some terrain to open.
Aspen Skiing Co. reported Thursday that a Thanksgiving Day opening for Aspen Mountain was unlikely given the snow conditions (see related story on page A1).