SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Snowmass Village occupancy rates were down 12.8 percent in August from the same month last year, according to a report from the Mountain Travel Research Program. However, Labor Day weekend was another strong one for Snowmass, with rooms in the Wildwood Snowmass and Westin Snowmass, still closed for renovation, the only ones left unsold, according to Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.
The closure of the Westin and Wildwood puts almost 25 percent of rooms in Snowmass out of commission. So while there were fewer overnight guests this August compared to last, the closures boosted occupancy - and average daily rate, by 15.6 percent - in properties remaining open.
"While Snowmass' numbers were reported to be down nearly 13 percent, this is actually an impressive number in light of the fact that nearly 25 percent of Snowmass' rooms weren't available for sale this summer," Tomcich said.
Tomcich called Labor Day weekend a "virtual sellout for both Aspen and Snowmass this year, with the only rooms remaining unsold being those in Snowmass that were closed for renovations along with a number of high-end condos and private homes."
Jazz Aspen Snowmass CEO Jim Horowitz told the Town Council earlier this summer that his nonprofit was working to push the Labor Day Festival as a three-day event and encourage more overnight stays on Friday of that weekend.
Snowmass Tourism director Susan Hamley said because the Westin and Wildwood are reporting zero occupancy, it's impossible to know for sure if more guests stayed in town on Friday night this year than last.
"While we likely did the same or better, it isn't conclusive," Hamley said. "It is, however, accurate to say Friday performed the same as Sunday ... Saturday performed the best."
Occupancy rates for the summer to date in Snowmass Village are down 9.3 percent. Hotels remaining open have been fuller, however, according to Tomcich, and the average daily rate for the summer is up 12.7 percent.
The MTRiP occupancy report for Snowmass Village shows that occupancy is down 32.4 percent for September.
"The balance of September doesn't look so good on paper, and it's actually next weekend (Sept. 22-23) which seems to be pacing considerably behind last year," Tomcich said. "But we have seen a nice surge of last-minute bookings since Aug. 31. Also contributing to August's strength and September's weakness is the fact that Friday of Labor Day weekend fell on Aug. 31 this year while it fell on Sept. 2 last year."
Western mountain destinations saw an increase of 5.4 percent in actual occupancy for the month of August, according to MTRiP. Average daily rate was up 6.1 percent.
The MTRiP report on mountain lodging, based on data gathered from properties in 16 western mountain destinations, said that at this point in the winter booking season, occupancy is up 5.6 percent for the next six months, while average daily rate is down a slim 0.3 percent.