Businesses expect short, busy holiday | AspenTimes.com

Businesses expect short, busy holiday

“Short but sweet” sums up expectations for holiday business in Aspen this year. Make that relatively short and very sweet.Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays this year, and when that happens, it compresses visits into a short and intense period, various business operators said Thursday.”People want to spend Christmas at home. They come on the 26th and stay a week,” said Lex Tarumianz, the reservations manager at The Gant condominiums.The peak week will be Dec. 26 through Jan. 2, with occupancy spiking on Dec. 27-29, said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen/Snowmass, a central reservations firm.Aspen Skiing Co. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Perry said the week between the holidays is always strong. It’s difficult to squeeze many more people in. The weeks before and after Christmas and New Year’s “are where you get the ups and downs” from one season to the next, he said. Often school vacations determine those variations.Tomcich said it’s best for business when Christmas falls on a Wednesday because it creates two strong weeks rather than one monster week and a couple of weaker ones.This year’s is going to be a lot different from last season, even though the holidays also fell on the weekend then. Many observers expect business to be slower before Christmas this year. The next occupancy forecast by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association is scheduled for release Sunday.”The week prior to Christmas is going to be a lot quieter than last year, and the week following New Year’s is going to end up being a lot busier,” Tomcich said.Perry said he’s warning people in the Skico not to prejudge holiday business based on its start in mid-December. The five or so days before Christmas won’t be very strong. “Don’t panic,” he said.There were no worries in the voice of Joe Raczak, general manager of the North of Nell condominiums. “I think it’s going to be one of the busiest [holiday] seasons ever,” he said.However, Raczak was kind of a maverick in his pre- and post-holiday predictions. He said the North of Nell will enjoy a solid pre-Christmas week thanks to its slopeside locations. Bookings are strong for the week of Dec. 18, he said, but that’s probably not the norm for town.He also discounted predictions that business will be strong after New Year’s. “Monday and Tuesday [Jan. 2 and 3] are going to be like a ghost town, in my opinion,” he said.Tarumianz said records from the past six years and bookings patterns for this year indicate to him that people will arrive in large numbers on Dec. 26 and 27, and leave on Jan. 3.Airline flight availability supports his theory. Flights into Aspen are sold out Dec. 26 and 27. Outbound flights are sold out Jan. 1, 2 and 3.Tomcich said there is still room and flight availability for people who arrive before Christmas and leave before New Year’s.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com