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October 16, 2012
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Summer occupancy finishes down from 2011

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Lodging properties in Snowmass Village were 23 percent full in September, a 29.4 percent drop from the occupancy rate from the same month in 2011.

That means the period from May to September finished with an occupancy rate of 25.9 percent, down 13.8 percent from the previous summer.

However, the average daily rate charged by properties was up for both. September saw an average daily rate of $129, a 17.3 percent increase, and the summer saw an average of $124 overall, up 13.5 percent.

It is important to note that with the Wildwood and Westin Snowmass properties closed for renovations all summer, almost a quarter of available rooms in Snowmass Village were unavailable. The Mountain Travel Research Program, which reports the data, decided earlier this summer to restate the information to include those rooms as if they were available, in order to more accurately represent year over year change in the future.

Occupancy rates for October were down slightly as of Sept. 30. That is contrary to the bookings in other western mountain destinations, including Aspen, which were up going into the month.

However, Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, said that last-minute bookings have been strong this month.

The pace of bookings made in September for the winter period was up just slightly from the same month last year.

"While the pace of winter bookings continues to build, I wouldn't necessarily describe them as off-the-hook just yet," Tomcich said. "But when comparing against last year at this time, it's important to understand that last year started out really strong but later lost momentum."

According to MTRiP, the booking pace across mountain destinations in the West was down 3.9 percent. Booked occupancy for October through March is up just 0.5 percent from last year across the region.

Tomcich said the calendar is working in favor of lodges this winter season, with both Christmas and New Year's Day falling on Tuesdays.

"While pre-Christmas bookings are looking pretty soft right now, post-New Year's bookings are looking especially strong as a lot of folks appear willing to extend their holiday stays through the following weekend," Tomcich said.

Easter Sunday falls early this year on March 31.

"Not only should this bring a strong end to the month of March, but this also means that Fat Tuesday falls on Feb. 12 this year, meaning the popular Brazilian holiday of Carnival will take place the week prior to the popular President's week instead of right on top of it as it did last year," Tomcich said.

Tomcich said one factor working against the lodging industry here this year would be decreased airline capacity at both Aspen-Pitkin County Airport and Eagle County Airport. However, he said that United Airlines has changed its schedule to be able to carry more passengers this winter.

"Of course, the one wild card at this point, as it is every year around this time, is the one that has yet to be dealt by Mother Nature," Tomcich said.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Oct 23, 2012 04:39PM Published Oct 16, 2012 07:42PM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.