Solid summer nearly in the books
By the numbers
3 percent: Gain in summer bookings across the mountain resort region
11 percent: Increase in revenue for the same competitive set.
4 percent: Increase in mountain resort winter bookings as of Aug. 31.
9.4 percent: Increase in lodging revenue.
EAGLE COUNTY — Summer lodging continues to set records across the mountain resort region. Locally, lodging may not set a record this year, but it will be close.
The latest data from Destimetrics, a Denver-area market research and analysis firm, shows that lodging across the mountain resort region will set a record for both occupancy and revenue for the third consecutive summer. September bookings play a big role in those records, with occupancy and daily rates both up by double-digit amounts over 2014.
‘It will be darned Close’
Vail Valley lodging may not set a record, but it’s going to be close. The Vail Valley Partnership — the area’s chamber of commerce and a major reservation and group business service — tracks the valley’s entire lodging picture in Vail, Beaver Creek and Avon.
Partnership CEO Chris Romer said the summer lodging picture looks “very solid.” With September bookings yet to be fully recorded, it’s this month that will determine whether summer lodging exceeds last year’s record numbers.
“If it’s not a record (this year), it will be darned close,” Romer said. “We’re about flat with (2014).” which was a record year.)
Romer said at this point, valley lodges are showing strong weekend occupancy from June through the end of September.
Wet Weather and Weddings
That strong September occupancy is reflected at business seen at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Hotel general manager Robert Purdy said September’s bookings include everything from wedding parties — a growing part of the business — to leisure travelers and groups.
But while Purdy said the Park Hyatt had a strong summer, the 2015 season probably won’t set any records.
“We started out a little bit weaker; the weather was very impactful because of all the rain,” Purdy said. “But the number of weddings has just skyrocketed.”
At The Sebastian hotel in Vail, sales and marketing director Anne Lynch said that property also saw a strong summer, with some subtle changes in where guests came from and how long they stayed.
“We were about flat on guests from the Front Range, but they stayed longer,” Lynch said, adding that the hotel saw big increases in visits from “destination” guests — people coming to the valley from out of state. International visitors also came in greater numbers.
The Sebastian is a smaller hotel than the Park Hyatt, and caters to a somewhat different guest. Lynch said the international travelers coming in pairs seem to still be eager to travel.
The story is a little different at the Park Hyatt.
Noting that the hotel attracts a lot of family business, Purdy said that the current strength of the dollar means it’s now 25 percent more expensive to come to the U.S. from Australia than it was a year ago. That’s had an impact on January reservations.
“Beaver Creek is really built around families,” Lynch said. “But our international business is strong and growing.”
At the moment, international business is mostly what’s on the books for winter, since those guests tend to book well in advance. Many destination guests make their reservations months in advance, too.
Destimetrics is tracking those early bookings for the coming ski season, and business looks good so far.
Prime Winter Booking Time
We’re heading into the prime winter booking season riding the wave of our third consecutive record summer with some expectation that momentum will carry into ski season,” Destimetrics director Ralf Garrison said in an email.
Planning for those guests has lodge managers already planning for ski season, and they’re keeping a close eye on trends.
On the other hand, much of the winter’s lodging business won’t be booked for several weeks to come.
Romer said looking at winter right now is interesting, but doesn’t really reflect what kind of season we’ll have moving into 2016. That’s going to depend in large part on broad economic trends. And, of course, the amount of snow the valley gets.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.
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