Vail’s great snow is boosting lodging business |

Vail’s great snow is boosting lodging business

Reservations jump in January; many are for March and April

Great snow at Beaver Creek, shown here, and Vail has driven a January surge in lodging reservations.
Ben Roof/Vail Daily archive

No matter the promotion, or the on-mountain amenities, ski resorts ultimately depend on the weather. January’s weather produced in a big way.

The Vail Valley Partnership, the valley’s chamber of commerce, seeks out group business for the valley, and keeps a close eye on booking trends. Partnership President and CEO Chris Romer said January was a “great” booking month, with guests booking closer to their arrival times.

By the (national) numbers
  • 6.5%: National inflation rate in December, 2022.
  • 9.1%: National inflation rate in June, 2022.
  • 51.2 days: Lead times in January for ski resort lodging reservations.
  • 40.2 days: Lead times in January for ski resort lodging reservations.

Romer said new snow is especially important in uncertain economic times. People waiting to decide whether to travel can be influenced by favorable conditions at their favorite mountains.

“Snowfall can move us from having a good year to a great year,” Romer said.

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek General Manager Herb Rackliff said the winter so far has been a good one.

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“We had a really good January,” Rackliff said, noting that the month just past was “significantly” better than the same month in 2022. January of this year has actually been one of the better ones in the hotel’s history, Rackliff added.

A good January was preceded by strong business in the last weeks of 2022, Rackliff said. The Christmas holidays, known as the “festive season” in lodging industry parlance, was “sensational,” he said.

The strong business during the first part of the season has the hotel set up well for the coming months.

While great snow can spur close-in bookings, that’s not the only benefit of a — so far — good snow year.

Tom Foley is the senior vice president of business process and analytics for Inntopia, a lodging technology firm.

Foley said while short lead time reservations have been impressive, current booking lead times are longer than they’ve been in the past four years.

“People aren’t saying ‘We’ve got to get out there,’” Foley said. Instead, many travelers are taking note of the large amount of the snow on the ground now and believe that snow, and perhaps more, will be in place in March and April.

Still, all that lodging reservation activity still leaves the mountain resort region a bit behind last season’s numbers.

Foley said this season’s occupancy numbers — as a percentage of rooms available — is likely to equal or surpass last season. But, he added, that doesn’t mean resorts will see the same number of room nights as last season.

Foley noted a number of condos and other non-hotel properties aren’t on the market this season. Other factors are also at work.

Foley also noted that people aren’t staying as long as they have in the past few years. Length of stay is down almost to levels seen in 2019. Room rates may play a role in shorter stays, given that rates remain high. In addition, a number of travelers are going back to working in offices. That can also cut stays shorter than they were.

Fewer room nights may not be a bad thing from a management perspective, Foley added, noting that many lodging properties are still struggling with staffing.

Still, it’s been snowing and people are coming. That’s a formula that only hasn’t worked once — in the depths of the Great Recession, which began in 2008.

“Everybody was, metaphorically, hunkered down,” Foley said. “But that had rebounded by 2011.”

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