Aspen bookings strong through Presidents Day weekend, then questions begin | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen bookings strong through Presidents Day weekend, then questions begin

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Aspen and Snowmass are starting to pay the price for lower-than-average snowpack though not nearly as severely as other resorts, according to an organization that tracks business trends for several western U.S. ski resorts.

The Mountain Travel Research Program, known as MTRiP, reported that reservations made in January for trips in January through June were down 24 percent compared to the same period in 2011 for resorts as a whole. In Aspen, bookings made in January for trips during the first half of the year were down nearly 4 percent, and in Snowmass Village they fell almost 9 percent.

MTRiP’s report said it is unclear whether the return of winter in the last few weeks has the potential to boost business enough to make up for the losses.

“It must be said that the weather cooperated in most destinations over the past few weeks, but whether it is ‘too little, too late’ or an opportunity for a strong spring season will need to be played out,” wrote Tom Foley, director of operations for the research organization.

So far this year, Aspen and Snowmass Village have been in good shape. Aspen’s occupancy was 74.4 percent in January, up 4.3 percent from the prior year. The average daily rate dipped slightly from $414 to $409.

Snowmass fared even better in terms of growth from last year. Occupancy for January was 66.6 percent, up 8.8 percent from the same month last year. The average daily rate in Snowmass Village nudged up from $352 last year to $355 this year in January.

Cumulatively, the resorts examined by MTRiP were 3.7 percent behind in occupancy in January compared to last year, so Aspen and Snowmass performed better.

Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency, reported this month also is starting strong for the two towns. As of Jan. 31, February’s overall occupancy was pacing 3.9 percent ahead of last year for Aspen and 12.2 percent ahead for Snowmass Village.

“Next weekend is certain to be a very busy one with occupancies peaking in excess of 85 percent in both Aspen and Snowmass,” Tomcich wrote to the resorts’ tourism accommodations industry. “This is partially the result of President’s Week coinciding with the Brazilian holiday, Carnival. Beyond that week, occupancies for the last week of February and the first week of March are pacing behind last year.”

Foley of MTRiP said decent economic news in recent weeks might not be enough to spur a surge in destination travel business to ski resorts.

“In recent years we’ve had epic snow to carry us through tough economic times and now we look to the economy to carry us through tough snow times,” Foley wrote. “However, it seems that ‘good economy/bad snow’ scenario may not be as supportive as ‘bad economy/good snow’ was.”


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