Winter lodging numbers looking up, official says | AspenTimes.com

Winter lodging numbers looking up, official says

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Winter bookings in Aspen are already off to a promising start, according to a travel official.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall on Thursdays this year, encouraging visitors to come to the Roaring Fork Valley for two extended weekends, or maybe even two weeks.

Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, told the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors Tuesday morning that he has already seen a lot of demand for lodging during the December holidays.

“Ski-in, ski-out condos are very popular – it’s a demand pattern that reflects the old days when the holidays were sold out months in advance,” Tomcich said.

Bookings have been mixed for September, and Tomcich said the travel industry in general is seeing a downturn in people making reservations.

Stay Aspen Snowmass has continued to assist smaller lodges with getting online booking options, so visitors who want to shop around and book online have all of the local lodges at their fingertips.

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When it comes to air service in and out of Aspen, Tomcich said that flights this winter so far will include the same number of seats as last year. The winter schedule goes into effect on Dec. 15.

But overall, Tomcich pointed to changes in the airline industry that he’s been keeping an eye on, including an increasing trend toward “small jet providers” that serve smaller communities from major airports.

Last week United Airlines announced plans to add a low-cost carrier to its service out of Denver International Airport, in order to compete with no-frills airlines like Southwest, Frontier and JetBlue. According to an article in last week’s Denver Post, the service will begin in February with flights to leisure destinations such as Tampa, Fla., Las Vegas and New Orleans.

Tomcich said that although less than 7 percent of Aspen’s visitor traffic originates from those cities, and it won’t mean a huge boon for Aspen, he considers this an important sign that United is completely committed to the future of its Denver hub.

United Express is the primary air carrier at the Aspen airport, connecting the town to all of the airlines that fly in and out of DIA.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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