Aspen lodging occupancy slides in February
The rockfall in Glenwood Canyon and a dearth of new snow combined to make a rough February for the lodging industry in Aspen and Snowmass Village.
An occupancy report released Monday by Stay Aspen Snowmass President Bill Tomcich said travelers faced daunting challenges during the last half of February.
The Feb. 15 rockslide in the canyon closed Interstate 70 for several days and then hampered travel. In addition, high winds affected equipment at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport and forced several cancellations of flights.
“Now that the numbers are in, it’s clear that the prolonged I-70 closure through Glenwood Canyon had a very pronounced impact on business in the Roaring Fork Valley throughout late February,” Tomcich wrote in his monthly occupancy report to the lodging industry.
He also noted that it appeared heading into February that Mother Nature was setting conditions up for an epic month. Aspen saw one of its biggest storm cycles in several seasons at the end of January and beginning of February. In addition, there was a special sale going on during high exposure for Aspen Snowmass during the Winter X Games.
Stay Aspen Snowmass, the central reservations agency, “saw its single biggest booking week in more than two years,” Tomcich wrote. “But when that promotion expired and all that snow suddenly stopped, the booking pace seemed to come to a screeching halt, as well.”
The overall paid occupancy for Aspen properties was 75.8 percent for February, the report said. That was down 2.7 percent from last year.
The overall paid occupancy in Snowmass Village was 77.7 percent, or 6.1 percent behind last year. Snowmass was harmed from a drop in business from Brazil due to the strong U.S. dollar.
“But no matter how you slice it, our destination’s last-minute business booked in the month for the month was way down,” Tomcich wrote. In-state business in particular took a dive during the last half of February.
Skiers are adept at following snow conditions and adjusting plans accordingly.
“One trend that has been clear this winter industrywide is that business has tended to follow changes in snowfall patterns with a near magnetic attraction (and repulsion),” Tomcich wrote.
March looks better than February, based on reservations on the books. As of Feb. 29, March was pacing 8.6 percent ahead of Aspen compared with reservations at the same time the year prior. Snowmass was pacing ahead 6.2 percent.
“Having Easter Sunday fall on March 27 this year certainly helps,” Tomcich said.
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