Aspen feeling a bit full for the holiday season
December 27, 2011
ASPEN – Private jets crowd the ramp at the airport, and parking spaces in downtown Aspen are getting harder to find than a baby sitter on New Year’s Eve. By Thursday night, town will be fuller than it has been since the holiday season of 2007-08.
Aspen will feel busier Wednesday than it did Tuesday but not as packed as it will feel Thursday, which is shaping up to be the peak night for holiday crowds, according to Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass.
“Pretty much every inbound flight now through Thursday is sold out and has been for some time,” he said Tuesday. “This is shaping up to be the busiest holiday in Aspen, as well as Snowmass, since the 2007-08 season.”
According to the most recent occupancy report available, from Dec. 15, Aspen was to be 90 percent full on Thursday night, while lodging in Snowmass Village was 80 percent booked. Reservations continue to come in, though, so just how full the resort gets this week won’t be known until the final numbers are tallied in early January.
While some establishments are completely booked this week, Tomcich’s staff isn’t turning anyone away. There’s still lodging to be had through New Year’s weekend, and people are calling. Six reservations came in on Monday morning for stays of five nights or more, with the vacationers arriving on Tuesday, he said.
Why Thursday is shaping up to be the peak night is anybody’s guess. It happens to be the night of overlap between departing Christmas guests and arriving New Year’s guests, according to Tomcich.
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“Every year, there’s one night that’s a peak. This year, it happens to be the 29th,” he said.
Last year, Dec. 30 was the peak night in Aspen, with 90 percent of its accommodations filled. That included the last-minute bookings that haven’t yet been tallied this year. This week’s peak will eclipse the 2010 mark. Snowmass occupancy hit 78 percent on Dec. 28 last year, Tomcich said.
In 2009, occupancy hit 89 percent in Aspen on Dec. 30 and 78 percent in Snowmass on Dec. 29.
In 2008, as the Great Recession took hold, occupancy peaked at 84 percent in Aspen and 75 percent in Snowmass Village.
“We did have a lot of cancellations that year,” Tomcich said.
But for the 2007 holidays, before the economic downturn, Aspen saw occupancy of 96 percent or more for four straight nights.
“That was the busiest holiday that I can ever recall here,” Tomcich said. “We turned away a lot of business. That hasn’t happened since.”