Following a minor lull in visitors and sales since the Winter X Games in late January, the Valentine’s Day/Presidents Day weekend gave Aspen and Snowmass Village a much needed shot in the arm, with hotel occupancy rates hitting or exceeding the 80 percent mark, local tourism sources say.
A recent lack of fresh powder did not deter skiers and snowboarders from Aspen Skiing Co.’s four mountains on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle said that combined, more than 15,000 people hit the ski areas each day.
“It’s been strong,” he said. “We’re happy with where we are. It’s pushing ahead of what was expected a little bit. I think had we had the sunny weather over Saturday and Sunday, it would have been even stronger. You can look around and see that town is busy, and the mountains have certainly been busy, even (on Monday).”
Presidents Day weekend doesn’t generate the same visitor numbers as the Christmas-to-New-Year’s-Day period, but it rates as one of the next highest weekends, Hanle said.
In Snowmass Village, the Westin Snowmass Resort was nearly filled to capacity on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, according to Tim Johnson, director of sales and marketing at the resort. The occupancy percentage rate at Wildwood Snowmass, which is part of the same complex, ran in the mid-80s, he added.
On Jan. 31, DestiMetrics, a Denver firm that tracks resort activity, had tracked average Presidents Day weekend occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass at slightly less than 80 percent. Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, said that with more bookings since the beginning of February, overall occupancy rates in both markets likely exceeded 80 percent on the weekend.
Tomcich said the Presidents Day weekend ranks as the third busiest of the season, falling short of the weekend just prior to New Year’s Eve and the weekend of the X Games.
“I’m sure we will end up well north of 80 percent for the three-day weekend,” Tomcich said.
Sunday night was the busiest night, he said, adding that though there have been a few lulls in visitor activity since the X Games, the rest of February and the month of March are shaping up to be strong.
Mardi Gras falls on March 4 this year — later than usual — which will give the Snowmass Village market a big boost to start the month, Tomcich noted. Every year, Snowmass Village hosts a parade and other festivities associated with Mardi Gras, a day of revelry in South Louisiana and many French and Latin countries around the world.
But, he said, the remaining 10 days of February look to be solid in both markets in terms of hotel stays.
“Even though we’ve had some warm weather in the last few days, the snowpack is absolutely phenomenal,” Tomcich said. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand, the phones are ringing, and we’ve got a bunch of special packages in the marketplace. We’ve got all the ingredients for a really strong finish to the season.”
March will be a busier month than it was last year, he said, pointing out that March 2013 was weaker than usual.
“We are headed in the right direction for March, but it’s too early to tell if it’s going to be back to where it was in years gone by,” Tomcich said.