Brazilians help create strong March for Aspen
ASPEN – March is the month that makes or breaks ski seasons and right now it’s looking like Aspen is set up for a strong showing, tourism officials said this week.
Skico Senior Vice President David Perry said the Skico has experienced “slow and steady improvement” this ski season, “sometimes a little too slow.” The Skico had a 7 percent increase in skier visits through December compared to the same point last season. January was weaker than hoped, Skico officials said. February was “slower than last year,” Perry said, so Skico is clinging to a slight advantage over last season.
That could change this month. The shift of some important events later in the calendar this year is creating a stronger March to offset the weaker February. For example, there are 2,000 Brazilians in Aspen and Snowmass Village this week on vacation during Carnival, Perry said.
Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, the central bookings agency, said in an e-mail that March looks “considerably stronger” in Aspen and “dramatically stronger” in Snowmass Village this year.
“The calendar shift of Mardi Gras and Carnival from the third week of February to the second week of March is responsible for this noticeable shift in Snowmass business during this very popular Brazilian holiday,” he wrote.
The current week will be the busiest of March, Tomcich said. The next two will be less busy than the current week – but stronger than last season.
Easter fell on April 4 last season, so that created a strong end of March and beginning of April that won’t be equaled this season.
March is important because it often determines if businesses will be profitable for the winter and by how much.
An occupancy report released Thursday by the Mountain Travel Research Program, MTRiP, shows that actual occupancy in Aspen was up from 66.2 percent last season to 68.9 percent this season.
MTRiP reported that occupancy for March, based on advance reservations through Feb. 28, is up from 51.3 percent last season to 56.3 percent this season. Both figures will rise because of bookings made after MTRiP prepared its report.
Aspen’s occupancy for November through February was unchanged from last season. The average daily rate over that period is up from $421 to $427.
In Snowmass Village, February occupancy fell from 58.4 percent last season to 54.1 percent this season, MTRiP reported.
Occupancy in March is drastically higher in the village. It was at 50.9 percent last season, as of Feb. 28, and 66.7 percent this season.
For November through February, occupancy in Snowmass Village is up 5.4 percent. The average daily rate climbed from $328 to $351.
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