Biz leaders bullish on holiday week
December 22, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Business leaders in Aspen remain optimistic that town will be filled to near capacity for the holidays next week despite travel woes for customers.Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen/Snowmass, a central reservations agency, said Aspen’s fate is largely in the hands of Denver International Airport.”How well DIA recovers is going to have a huge impact on how next week shapes up,” he said.The situation was bleak at the Denver airport Friday. DIA typically handles 120 flights per hour. The target for Friday was just 30 flights per hour, according to Tomcich. He expected flights into Denver to be delayed and canceled into the weekend.People who were flying from around the country to Colorado will have a “challenge” trying to book alternatives if their flights are canceled this weekend, Tomcich said. So it’s those flights into Denver that concern him rather than flights from Denver to Aspen.”Once they get to Colorado, they’ll get here,” Tomcich said. “It’s getting them to Colorado.”There were 27 flights scheduled into Aspen on Saturday. As of 2 p.m. Friday, all remained scheduled, according to Tomcich.The manager of an Aspen condominium complex took a brief time out Friday morning to explain he was “putting out fires” non-stop. He said the property was losing multiday bookings because guests had their flights canceled.Many properties have minimum stays of seven days or more during the holidays. However, as one manager said: How can you tell people who had their flights canceled because of a blizzard in Denver that they can’t have a lodging refund?Tomcich said different Aspen properties follow different policies. Stay Aspen/Snowmass has experienced only five cancellations, he said. Other guests who have had their flights canceled have flown into alternative cities and are driving in. One party flew into Las Vegas and will make the nine-hour drive to Aspen.”I’ve been hearing some extraordinary stories,” said Tomcich.He noted the peak time for vacations this holiday period is Dec. 26 through Jan. 2. He’s assuming air travel will be back to normal by the day after Christmas.Aspen Skiing Co. is still banking on booming business next week. “It might be slightly less,” said Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle. “It’s hard to tell at this point.”He noted that the number of people buying lift tickets wasn’t far off expectations on Thursday. Company officials had feared the numbers would drop due to the airline situation.Before the Denver blizzard struck, Skico President and CEO Mike Kaplan said the busiest day of the holiday week will fall on “the nicest day” between Thursday, Dec. 28 and Sunday, Dec. 31. Sunny, warm days bring out the most skiers and riders.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.