Aspen gains ground in skier visits but still lags last season’s pace | AspenTimes.com

Aspen gains ground in skier visits but still lags last season’s pace

Superb snow conditions helped Aspen Skiing Co. gain ground in skier visits during January and February, but the company still lags behind the pace set last season, spokesman Jeff Hanle said Friday.

Season-pass use and lift-ticket sales soared in January, when Aspen approached its record snow level, Hanle said. But there were tougher times in February, particularly because of a lull after the Winter X Games in late January.

"We're down a little less than 1 percent" in January and February, Hanle said.

The deficit is greater for the season to date, but Hanle said the figure wasn't available Friday. Skico's business was down 10 percent in November and December compared with the prior season. Slopes opened late because of lack of snow.

“We’re definitely making up ground from that slow start.”

— Jeff Hanle, Aspen Skiing Co.

"We're definitely making up ground from that slow start," Hanle said.

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Colorado Ski Country USA reported that cumulative skier visits for its 22 member resorts were up 1 percent in January and February. For the season to date, skier visits are down 2 percent from last season's pace through the same point, Colorado Ski Country reported. Last season set a record for visits, so the industry's performance is still strong this year.

"After a warm fall, which kept many guests out of the high country, the snowstorms in late December and early January created great skiing conditions across Colorado," Colorado Ski Country USA president and CEO Melanie Mills said in a statement. "Martin Luther King Day and President's Day weekends were some of the busiest of the year, driving visitation numbers up for the period."

Colorado Ski Country resorts are still well above the five-year average, the trade association said.

Aspen Skiing Co. and Colorado Ski Country said they are optimistic about strong numbers for the remainder of the season. Hanle said Aspen occupancy climbed this week because of the World Cup Finals and the start of the spring break, and is projected to remain strong through March.

However, data-analytics company DestiMetrics reported this week that the pace of bookings slowed significantly in February for 19 western mountain resorts. DestiMetrics monitors occupancy and reservation data for the resorts. Bookings made in February for vacations from February through July were down 12.1 percent compared with February 2016.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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