Aspen occupancy continued slide through January |

Aspen occupancy continued slide through January

ASPEN – Aspen’s tourist accommodations weren’t quite as busy in January as they were in 2009, and occupancies for the first half of winter didn’t keep pace with last winter’s numbers, according to a report released Wednesday.

The occupancy in Aspen was down 1.6 percent in January compared to the same month in 2009, stated the report by the Mountain Travel Research Program, which tracks business at several western resorts in North America.

For November through January, the occupancy level slipped nearly 6 percent, from 49.4 percent last season to 46.5 percent this year, the report stated.

The average daily rate charged by hotels, lodges and short-term condos is down 2 percent for the season-to-date.

MTRiP, as the research organization is called, based its report on data supplied by 15 properties representing 1,472 units in the Aspen area.

The organization found some silver lining in the data despite the decline in business.

“While overall occupancy during the month of January was down just 1.6 percent from last year, the month finished on a very strong note with occupancies peaking at 97 percent over X Games weekend,” the report stated.

Occupancy levels in February are being influenced by the Brazilian holiday of Carnival. President’s Week coincides this year with the Brazilian holiday so occupancies will peak above 80 percent and remain above 70 percent through most of next week, the report stated. “The final week of February is expected to be quieter than the same week last year when Carnival fell one week later,” the report added.

Occupancy for February as a whole was up 0.6 percent as of Jan. 31, the report stated.

The Aspen Skiing Co. and its marketing partners offered special discounts to spur business in March, particularly during spring break periods. It’s too early to tell how successful that effort has been.

“The first two weeks of March are now pacing just slightly ahead of last year,” MTRiP’s report stated. The last half of the month is more critical because of spring break. No data was available yet for those weeks.

MTRiP ended its report with a cautionary note. “It’s easy to see that the balance of the season is clouded in uncertainty as we gain and lose footing, and expectations are most easily met by realistically evaluating how we measure success this year,” the report stated.

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