SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Hotels in Snowmass Village and Aspen were more than 90 percent full over New Year's weekend, according to Stay Aspen Snowmass president Bill Tomcich, and those numbers seem to have translated into dollars at local restaurants, stores and businesses.
Retail stores on the Snowmass Village Mall experienced a spike in business during the Christmas to New Year's period. Michelle McCuiston, owner of N.J. Boutique, which just opened next to the Daly Bottle Shop, said business over the holiday period was "amazing."
"It was like angels fell from heaven with sacks of gold," she said.
McCuiston said her fur pieces were high sellers, as were a line of handmade hats she sells.
"I did well with just, like, everything," she said.
Steve Atkinson, of Sidewinder Sports, said the ski rental and retail shop had its best holiday season of the past two or three years.
"It's easily up a thousand (dollars) a day from the numbers last year," Atkinson said. "It's been up every day."
Atkinson said the improved business was in rentals and retail at the shop.
In Base Village, Ned Rafajlovic, manager of Slice pizzeria, said the new restaurant was packed "three times a day."
"It was the same thing at Base Camp, mainly downstairs," he said. "But the live music upstairs helps a lot."
Rafajlovic said the new restaurant has gotten a lot of positive feedback and has had many returning customers already.
"We had people staying here for seven days and have, like, four lunches here," he said.
A monthly report released by the Mountain Travel Research Program showed that occupancy in December was down 12.5 percent from the same month last year, despite the strong finish. However, the average daily rate at lodges in Snowmass Village was up 10.4 percent.
"I would observe that this was primarily a function of strong bookings during the last week of December when rates were high, but very weak bookings during the first half of the month when rates were low," said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.
Jeff Hanle, spokesperson for Aspen Skiing Co., said the slow start to the season was reflected in skier numbers too. He said the holiday traffic was good, although having Christmas and New Year's Day fall on Tuesdays shortens the peak period for tourism.
Hanle said having good snow conditions during the holidays was key, not only for skiing and snowboarding but for the festive atmosphere in town. Visitors have that experience and want to return, or they refer Aspen/Snowmass to others, he said.
"That's a very positive benefit of having great snow over the holiday weekend," Hanle said.