Aspen ski business pulls even with 2006-07 season
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Solid business over the last couple of months has salvaged the Aspen Skiing Co.’s season.
The Skico stumbled out of the lifts this season because November was so warm and dry. Even after a respectable holiday period, its skier visits were down 10 percent compared to last season.
But the company whittled the deficit down to 3 percent by the end of January and wiped it out completely by the end of February, said David Perry, senior vice president ” mountain division, on Wednesday.
“We’ve regained that early season loss,” Perry said. “We’ve pulled even with last season.”
Total skier visits were down less than 1 percent as of Monday, he said. Skier visits is a measure of lift ticket sales and season pass use.
Business for January and February was up about 8 percent compared to the same months last season. That reflects strong business, Perry said, because that was a strong period last season as well.
He attributed the increase to an influx of international travelers during both months, the lure of the ESPN Winter X Games in January and a lucky break with the calendar in February. Mardi Gras and Presidents Day weekend were separated this year, creating two strong bookings periods. They often fall on the same weekend, filling Aspen and Snowmass to capacity and forcing lodges to turn people away.
As good as the skiing conditions have been with record and near-record amounts of snowfall in December and January and on-going bounty in February, Perry said he couldn’t credit that with driving business. The winter has been cold and snowy across the country and most ski areas are in good shape, he said. The Skico has promoted its abundant snow ” it can’t hurt ” but virtually every resort is on equal footing, Perry said.
The business outlook for the last month of the season is mixed. Occupancy surveys of the lodging industry in Aspen and Snowmass indicate bookings will be down this week, up next week, down the week of March 24 and up the week beginning March 31.
That reflects the challenge of this winter overall.
“It has not been an easy winter,” Perry said. “It’s been hard work to generate the business we needed to keep pace this winter.”
One of the biggest challenges for the Skico is maintaining or increasing skier visits while the number of beds decreases, he said. It logged about 1.44 million skier visits for each of the last two seasons.
“My prediction is we’ll do at least as much business [this season],” Perry said.
A report from Colorado Ski Country USA, an industry trade group, is soon expected on the performance of the state’s resorts through the end of March. At the end of December, business at its 26 member resorts was down 12.5 percent compared to the prior season.
The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a limited-liability company has proper standing to sue the city of Aspen over its affordable-housing fees.