Aspen’s holiday ski business up
ASPEN ” Aspen Skiing Co.’s lift ticket sales were up 2 percent over the holidays compared to last year, but business is down 10 percent for the season through Sunday, David Perry, senior vice president-mountain division, said Monday.
“The holiday period was a very strong one for business,” Perry said. “Skier days could have been higher with a break in the weather.”
Temperatures and wind chills made for brutally cold mornings during most of the stretch between Dec. 22 and Jan. 6. That kept all but the hard-core skiers off the slopes some days, as shopkeepers and restaurateurs in Aspen and Snowmass Village can attest.
Nevertheless, Perry said the Skico was pleased with the performance over the two-week holiday period. Last year was strong, despite numerous flight cancellations because of poor weather in Denver. Poor weather again this year forced cancellations or diversions of numerous flights into Aspen, but at least customers were able to make it into the state, then take ground transportation to the resorts.
This year during the holidays, the Skico logged about 5,000 more skier visits ” the industry standard for measurement. A skier visit is the purchase of a full- or half-day lift ticket.
The busiest day on the slopes was Saturday, Dec. 29, when about 19,700 skiers and riders visited the Skico’s four areas, Perry said. The following day was nearly that busy. Skico likely would have challenged its record for busiest single day with more than 20,000 visits had the weather been warm and sunny.
Perry said the company was able to increase holiday business, in large part, because of the great conditions. Snowmass Ski Area received record snowfall in December and Aspen Mountain was close to a record. The Skico took advantage of the conditions by dubbing the month DeepCember in marketing efforts. Aspen-Snowmass benefited because some key competitors didn’t enjoy as much snow earlier in December, Perry said.
Business also boomed over the holidays simply because of the time of year.
“Christmas and Christmas and Aspen-Snowmass will fill up for the holidays,” Perry said.
For the season so far, the numbers aren’t as rosy. The lack of snow in November sabotaged business from Thanksgiving through the first three weeks of December. The irony, of course, is that the poor conditions in November hurt business in December even though Aspen-Snowmass enjoyed one of its snowiest months ever.
Perry said he suspects the ski industry throughout the West experienced a tough start to the season with the warm, dry conditions. Colorado Ski Country USA, a state association, will release by mid-January the cumulative skier visits for its members through Dec. 31.
The good news for the Skico is it typically logs only about 20 percent of its skier visits by Jan. 6, so there is plenty of time to make up the 10 percent deficit.
“You don’t recover from a slow-start hangover immediately,” Perry said. “That’s a hangover that lasts for weeks.”
The extent of the hangover remains to be seen.
January looks “on par” with past seasons, Perry said, and early February is “quite good.” Business leaders are concerned about the current outlook for late February into the first week of March.
Perry said the Skico and its marketing partners ” the lodging industry, Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the town of Snowmass Village ” have put their efforts into “overdrive” to increase business for that period.
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