A sizzling September | AspenTimes.com

A sizzling September

Eben Harrell

Keep your fireworks, founding fathers and Main Street parade – Labor Day weekend will likely be the busiest summer weekend in Aspen this year, according to Aspen’s central reservation center.September on the whole will be busy, with promotions, events and fall foliage likely drawing more visitors to Aspen and Snowmass than in August. Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, said the last few days have seen a deluge of last-minute accommodations and flight bookings. More hotel, condominium and rental units will be filled this weekend than any other this summer.”The last couple of days have been the busiest we’ve seen at central reservations all summer,” Tomcich said. “Usually the Fourth of July is our busiest time in the summer, but I’d say this weekend is going to be bigger.”Stay Aspen Snowmass is the official reservations center for Aspen, Snowmass and the Aspen Skiing Company. It handles 7 percent of the town’s bookings, coordinating with most area hotels and lodging companies.Tomcich credits the MotherLode Volleyball Tournament plus a strong lineup at Jazz Aspen Snowmass as the two primary draws for this weekend. But he also said happenstance – in this case, Labor Day falling nearly a week into September – played a part.”The fact that it falls later in the calendar makes a difference,” Tomcich said. “Kids have been in school longer. Fall is that much closer. It seems like a more appropriate time to take a vacation.” Tomcich’s predictions are supported by AAA Colorado, which is expecting “potentially record high Labor Day holiday travel” across the country this year. According to a AAA press release, 34.1 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday weekend, a 2.2 percent increase from last year’s 33.4 million travelers, the highest number of travelers recorded since AAA began tracking in 1995. The AAA ranked Aspen seventh in the list of most popular destinations in Colorado this weekend; Glenwood Springs topped the list. The list is determined by the number of inquires for each destination in August on the AAA Web site, such as driving directions and hotel reservations,Tomcich said Labor Day will kick off a month in which visitor numbers will likely for the first time exceed pre-2001 levels. He said annual September events such as Ruggerfest and the Snowmass Balloon Festival consistently draw large crowds. But a new Aspen and Snowmass fall promotional campaign, “Fall in Love with Aspen and Snowmass,” that emphasis the early fall foliage and activities, had an impact.”I think that three years after Sept. 11, people are willing to travel again,” Tomcich said. “We will probably end up with a busier September than we did in August. August is very much driven by the Music Festival, but when that shuts down the middle of the month and school gets back in session, we see a couple of down weeks. Not so for September.”With the usual white dusting of the peaks, blue skies and yellow leaves, I think people are catching on to what a great month September is in Aspen.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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