After November record, lodge bookings came tumbling down |

After November record, lodge bookings came tumbling down

Holidays won’t be as busy due to curse of coronavirus

Staff report

Aspen’s lodging industry set a record for occupancy in November despite the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report released Monday by Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings operation.

Occupancy in Aspen was 32%, beating 2018’s 31.5%. Snowmass was at 16.3%, similar to last year’s 16.6%, according to Stay Aspen Snowmass.

“We ended the month at 25.1%, (which was) 5.1% better than last year,” the report said of combined occupancy.

The picture changed this month.

“December has seen a very erratic booking pace with significant new bookings alongside significant cancellations,” Stay Aspen Snowmass said. “Our busy holiday weeks will be less so this year.”

Reservations on the books for December were down nearly 18% on Nov. 1 compared with the same point last year. By Nov. 30, reservations for December were down 27.5%.

“Part blessing and part curse to be behind that significantly,” the report said. “With adjusted services available, less visitors will allow us to better serve the needs of those who are here safely.”

For the winter overall, bookings are down 47% compared with the same time last year.

Aspen and Snowmass aren’t alone with sagging numbers. A company called DestiMetrics tracks reservations at 18 mountain destinations in seven Western states. It reported last week that bookings made in November for anytime during ski season fell 44 percent compared with the same time last year.

There was an abrupt change in the bookings pace when COVID-19 numbers started rising throughout the country this fall, DestiMetrics reported.

The steep decline in booking pace led to a sharp 34.9% decline in occupancy for the six-month winter season as of Nov. 30.

The decreasing occupancy numbers at Aspen-Snowmass come at a time when COVID-19 cases are increasing in Pitkin County. The county board of health voted Monday to set new limits on gatherings and business capacity while establishing new lodging rules. Ski operations were not part of the new limits.

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