Aspen Thanksgiving bookings ahead of last year’s pace |

Aspen Thanksgiving bookings ahead of last year’s pace

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” Despite the economic downturn, lodging reservations in Aspen this week are outpacing last year’s Thanksgiving week.

On last year’s peak night (Friday) during Thanksgiving week, lodges were 40 percent full, according to central reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass. This year, they’re 50 percent full on the peak night, which is again Friday.

“It’s not a bad start, given the circumstances,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass.

Though historically a light week for Aspen hotels, Thanksgiving is the traditional beginning of the ski season.

Tomcich attributed the trend to Thanksgiving’s 2008 placement at the very end of November and women’s World Cup racing, which is slated for Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. The 2008 lodging numbers do include free rooms given to World Cup racers.

Throughout Aspen, hotels reported their bookings were down slightly or up.

At Aspen Square, Thanksgiving bookings are slightly down, said general manager Warren Klug. At the Hotel Aspen and Molly Gibson Lodge, general manager Scott Olpin called this year’s bookings “soft.”

But at the Sky Hotel, bookings are up nearly 80 percent over last year ” a trend Alan Cardenas, director of sales and marketing, attributed to Thanksgiving’s later date and several promotions at the hotel.

Even so, the rest of December does not look that good, Tomcich said.

After Thanksgiving, declines could be in the “strong double digits” over last year’s bookings, Tomcich noted.

But Olpin said he expected Aspen would still be popular during the holiday season, recession or not.

“Everybody is going to do well at Christmas and New Year’s,” he said.

And January remains ahead of last year at this point, though bookings have been losing pace for the last six weeks, Tomcich said.

But travelers are starting to bite at last-minute deals, according to Tomcich.

Certainly, any vacationers who have waited to book rooms for November or December have their choice of deals. Specials currently offered on the Stay Aspen Snowmass website include a Last Minute Special, a World Cup Special and a Recession Recovery package.

Aspen Square is offering value-oriented rates for November and December, “recognizing that people who come Thanksgiving and early in December are value-oriented customers,” said Klug.

At the Hotel Aspen and Molly Gibson Lodge, Olpin said he’s also offering lower rates ” by 15 or 20 percent ” during historically slower periods.

“More money in their pocket to do whatever they want with is, in my mind, the best mode to go with,” said Olpin. “If you give a bottle of champagne, that’s great, but what if they’re a non-drinking Mormon grandmother?”

The other good news for travelers, said Tomcich, is that travelers who haven’t yet booked lodging during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday still have the opportunity to do so.

By this time last year, lodging during the coveted period was scarce.

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