Vail winter lodging sets new record
By the numbers
12 percent: Vail’s increase in “revenue per available room” from 2012-13 season to 2013-14 season.
10 percent: National increase in revenue per available room for the 2013-14 ski season.
12 percent: Increase in summer reservations booked as of April 30.
8.5 percent: Increase in 2013-14 seasonal lodging tax from the 2007-08 season.
VAIL — While there are plenty of lingering effects from the financial slump that began in 2008, resort lodging has fully recovered. Summer reservations have started off strong, too.
Those are the main points of a continuing survey of the lodging market in resort areas conducted by Destimetrics, a Denver-area-based consulting firm.
Destimetrics director Ralf Garrison recently provided a joint meeting of the Vail Town Council and the Vail Economic Advisory Council with a look at lodging numbers from the just-completed ski season and early numbers from the summer to come.
Garrison’s company has established the 2007-08 season — the previous high-water mark for resort lodging — as a baseline for his company’s current work. Viewed in that light, the economic slump is officially in the rear-view mirror, at least in Vail.
Vail — not the entire valley — is currently out-performing both the nation and other resorts in the Rockies in terms of lodging occupancy, average room rate and revenue per available room.
After several years of growth following a significant dip in the 2008-09 season, Vail has fully recovered, with lodging numbers now above the 2007-08 season.
While the increases are good news, Garrison said Vail is starting to see the beginnings of “supply constraint.”
“Starting in 2008, you had a drop in demand and an increase in high-end supply,” Garrison said. During the past few years, occupancy has been on the rise at Vail’s newer, high-end lodging properties. With that inventory filling, Garrison said further increases are going to be harder to find.
“It’s harder to get occupancy from 85 to 90 percent than from 60 to 70 (percent),” Garrison said.
That’s ski season, though. While summer lodging has surpassed 2007-08 levels, Garrison said summer occupancy and revenue still account for only about 30 percent of the resort’s lodging revenue pie.
Still, Garrison said, Vail is still outperforming both the nation and region for summer reservations.
While the summer lodging picture looks promising, Garrison’s most recent snapshot of reservations ended April 30. Since summer visitors generally book rooms far closer to their travel dates, there’s still plenty that could go right — or wrong — with the summer lodging picture.
Vail Mayor Andy Daly asked Garrison if Vail’s overall position in the summer-resort firmament has slipped in the past year or two. The numbers are about static with last year, Garrison said.
Michael Kurz, a member of the Economic Advisory Council, said summer business is a much bigger arena for Vail to operate in.
“We’re starting to pull some business from elsewhere,” Kurz said. “People have thousands of (summer) options.”
Kurz said what Vail needs to do is lead, not follow, trends in seeking new summer business.
“I worry about homogenization of the product in the summer, whereas the winter is totally different. A coaster is a coaster,” he said.
Even given the old-as-Vail effort to grow summer business, Garrison said the resort is in a pretty good place right now.
“Carry on would be my advice,” he said.