Aspen lodges see September bump |

Aspen lodges see September bump

Staff report
Lodges in Aspen, as seen from the west side of Aspen Mountain, had a paid occupancy of 60.5% in September, according to a report issued last week.
Rick Carroll/The Aspen Times

Aspen lodges, for the first time this year since February, saw an uptick in monthly business with paid occupancy of 60.5% in September.

That was enough to give last month a 3% lift over September 2019, according to a monthly summary published Friday by Stay Aspen Snowmass, the central reservations firm owned by Aspen Skiing Co.

“Fueled by beautiful fall foliage and ideal September weather, Aspen and Snowmass saw tremendous growth in last minute occupancy,” said the summary, which noted September bookings were pacing behind last year in late August.

The summary, which gleans data tracked by DestiMetrics, which examines visitor data at American ski resorts, reported that Snowmass ended the month with a 43.2% occupancy rate, down 8.9% from September. Aspen and Snowmass were collectively 1.6% behind September 2019.

For the summer months in Aspen and Snowmass, defined by the report as May through October, paid occupancy is 37.6% compared with 55% in the summer of 2019.

This October is expected to see more overnight guests than October 2019, which had a 39.4% occupancy rate.

“Due to strong last-minute demand, we have seen the year over year variance drop month by month,” the report said. “We anticipate to see the gap close further by the end of October.”

And moving into the ski season, one that will have a number of on-mountain restrictions because of the pandemic, “the Thanksgiving holiday is pacing very nicely ahead of last winter. Overall, winter occupancy is starting to build. And while we are experiencing a much slower winter booking pace than normal, we are seeing a recent uptick in reservations,” the report said.

The clouds of political uncertainty during a presidential election year also are factors for bookings, the report said.

“Not only are we seeing the effects of COVID-19 and the economy contributing to a slow pace, but every four years during a presidential election, winter pace lags behind an average year,” the report said. “This trend is seen across the industry.”

Aspen retail sales also are down for the year. From January through August, Aspen retailers generated $491.4 million in sales, which is 12% behind the first eight months of 2018, according to the city.