Vail Valley doesn’t quite match lodging records set across mountain resorts | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley doesn’t quite match lodging records set across mountain resorts

The valley still had a very good lodging season, and may have set a visitation record

The Four Seasons in Vail is one of the lodges that have increased Vail's bed base over the past decade-plus. Those properties are likely the only reason that Vail didn't set a new record for lodging occupancy in the most recent ski season.
Daily file photo
By the numbers:
  • 8.7%: Increase in town of Vail lodging tax collections through March compared to the same period in 2018.
  • 5.6%: Increase from the 2017-2018 ski season in occupancy across the mountain resorts surveyed by DestiMetrics by Inntopia.
  • .7%: Season-long increase in average daily rate among the surveyed resorts for the same period.

Resorts across the mountain resort region set a new ski season record for lodging occupancy, rate and revenue. Vail Valley lodging had a very good season, just not a record-setter.

Denver-based DestiMetrics by Inntopia researches lodging data across a number of mountain resorts. According to that firm, the season from November of 2018 to April of this year showed gains in average daily rate, occupancy and revenue.

The company reports that a cool, snowy spring had skiers and snowboarders making late decisions to visit mountain resorts. Across the region, bookings made in April for arrivals in April were up 19.4% compared to 2018.

“Conditions throughout the season and across the country were ideal for record-setting,” said Tom Foley, senior vice president of Business Operations and Analytics for Inntopia. “A strong, although occasionally erratic financial marketplace, supported skiers and riders wanting to take full advantage of abundant snowfall throughout the season, and to spend more liberally than in past seasons.”

Why it’s hard to set a record

The Vail Valley’s lodging picture was similar.

The Vail Valley Partnership — along with the towns of Vail and Avon — are DestiMetrics clients. Partnership President Chris Romer said the Vail Valley’s results for the just-completed ski season were very good. But, he added, occupancy rates may not have set a record.

The difference, Romer said, is that valley’s bed base has increased over the past decade, and previous occupancy rate records were set before the national economic slump that began in 2008.

Since then, several properties have either opened or expanded. That makes it hard to set an occupancy record.

On the other hand, Romer said the ski season just past was “likely a record year in terms of visitation.”

Reflecting the regional trend, Romer said average daily rate in the valley did decline slightly, adding that rates during peak times didn’t affect occupancy.

At the Sitzmark Lodge in Vail Village, general manager Jeanne Fritch said that hotel had a good, but not record-breaking season.

Fritch said November and December at the lodge were “terrible.” Snow came, but guests didn’t, she said.

On the other hand, Fritch said the Sitzmark did see some strong months during the season, particularly in February and March. January was “flat, but pretty busy,” Fritch said, adding that the hotel was booked at a 96% percent rate that month.

“I don’t know how you grow that,” she said.

Room for improvement

More broadly, Romer said he sees room for growth during weekdays and non-peak weekends.

Romer said the data from the season indicates there is an “opportunity to steal market share… by being aggressive on rate,” Romer said. Besides rate, Romer said there’s a chance to capture some market share through events. The Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships this year provided a 10% boost in occupancy over the previous year.

One way hotels measure success is by a metric called “revenue per available room.” Romer said the way area hotels can boost that metric is through a combination of pushing rates in peak times, dropping them during slow periods and aggressively seeking group business.

And, Romer said, Vail Resorts’ work to expand snowmaking at Vail and Beaver Creek provides another way to capture guests in traditionally soft periods.

“That has the potential, as we grow into it, to give us a really solid product at the beginning of the season,” he said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2930.