Vail Valley’s summer lodging isn’t great, but it’s ‘not bad’ | VailDaily.com
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Vail Valley’s summer lodging isn’t great, but it’s ‘not bad’

Business is down throughout the mountain lodging business, but not as bad as expected locally

Vail and other mountain resorts aren't seeing as much summer business, but people are still coming to the mountains.
John LaConte | The Vail Daily |
By the numbers
  • 37 days: Average time between booking and arrival across the mountain resort region.
  • 55.3%: Year over year decline in occupancy across the mountain resort region.
  • 21%: Year over year decline in the June Consumer Confidence Index.
  • 74.2%: Year over year increase in booking pace in June across the mountain resort region.
Source: DestiMetrics.

Considering the valley’s clearout in mid-March, summer business is down, but perhaps better than expected.

The latest data from DestiMetrics of 290 lodging properties in the mountain resort region shows some serious declines in occupancy and revenue, as expected. On the other hand, June’s booking pace was significantly higher than the same month in 2019.

The story is much the same in the Vail Valley.

At the Sitzmark hotel in Vail, owner Jeane Fritch said business is “not bad,” considering the circumstances.

“It’s different in so many ways,” Fritch said. “It’s really kind of hard to plan. A lot of people are doing last-minute trips, and coming in on different days of the week.”

Thursdays are generally pretty busy, Fritch said. But sometimes Wednesdays, or Mondays, can get busy, too.

“A lot of times it appears to be people on road trips; there are a lot of one-night stays,” Fritch said.

While many past guests are staying home these days, Fritch noted that many of those guests are older, and at higher risk for the COVID-19 virus.

Fritch, who grew up at the Sitzmark, said in many ways Vail feels as it did in the 1980s — slower, and more relaxed than a resort that had become nearly as busy in summer as in the winter.

More life than expected

Matt Morgan, owner of Vail’s Sweet Basil and Mountain Standard restaurants, said the pace there is slower, but there’s more life in the village than in April and the second half of March.

“We’re doing better than we expected,” Morgan said. “But you never know from week to week what could happen. It’s a little nerve-wracking.”

Not knowing what the next week or month holds has become normal this summer.

Tom Foley is a senior vice president at Inntopia, a market research firm. Foley runs DestiMetrics, an Inntopia subsidiary.

The latest data from Destimetrics is showing about what you’d expect: lower occupancy, and revenue declines at lodging properties across the mountain resort region in the western U.S.

Foley said people are booking rooms much closer to their arrival dates. Those short booking windows indicate people are traveling within comfort zones, Foley said. People are traveling when they believe the “coast is clear” and they’re aware of conditions in the mountains.

Hotels, condos are different

While the entire lodging industry is down from 2019, Foley said non-hotel properties — condos and homes with separate outdoor entries — are doing somewhat better than hotels.

“The unknown is mitigated by the isolation that type of (non-hotel) property offers,” Foley said.

Still, occupancy and rate differ from property to property in the same community, Foley said.

But the industry as a whole seems to have picked up some momentum in June and July, he added.

Short lead times between booking and arrival are the norm at the Comfort Inn in Avon.

“We’re holding our own,” general manager Rich ten Braak said. And, while revenue is down significantly, the hotel is seeing a “steady stream” of customers.

There are more single-night stays that usual, ten Braak said, adding that the hotel’s parking lot — like much of Avon right now — has vehicles from a number of different states.

“It’s not just Texas,” he said. “There are a lot of people moving around on (Interstate 70).”

While the valley’s pace is slower this summer, people are looking forward to the day when the virus isn’t such a hindrance to business.

“What we really need is people to follow (social distancing and mask-wearing) rules,” Fritch said. “We’re really trying to get to the winter. If we all behave, this is a good time to practice.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com.


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