Busy four days in store at Aspen and Snowmass Village hotels | AspenTimes.com

Busy four days in store at Aspen and Snowmass Village hotels

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

There's some bad news and good news concerning the lodging situation on the eve of the seven-stage USA Pro Challenge bicycle race that kicks off Monday with a circuit race that loops between Aspen and the Snowmass area.

First, the negative item: Collectively, Aspen and Snowmass Village hotels are not sold out, and fewer people involved with the race have booked rooms than was expected.

Now, the positive one: Aspen and Snowmass Village hotels are not sold out — plenty of rooms are available for visitors who want to come to the area for pre-race festivities, two days of professional cycling and everything else the area has to offer.

Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, provided his observations about the current occupancy rates — and where they seem to be headed over the next few days — during an interview on Wednesday. He said area hotels stand to be extremely busy on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday — on par with a July weekend — and then business will drop off considerably until Labor Day weekend.

Hotel occupancy rates will be pushing the 90 percent mark in Aspen on Friday and Saturday, not because of the race, but because it's the last weekend of the Aspen Music Festival, Tomcich said.

On Sunday and Monday, occupancy rates for Aspen should fall back to between 60 percent and 70 percent, a range based on advanced bookings and Tomcich's own projections. That means there will be plenty of rooms for last-minute visitors who want to catch the cycling action on Monday and also on Tuesday, when the 16 racing teams leave downtown Aspen for Independence Pass on their route to Breckenridge.

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Because of the music festival, the vast majority of people associated with the event and the teams are staying in Snowmass Village, Tomcich said, which will aid occupancy rates there on Sunday and Monday night.

"There simply were not available rooms to host the race entourage in Aspen on Friday and Saturday, thus the decision was made to house everyone up in Snowmass Village," said Tomcich, who also serves as director of operations for the event's local organizing committee.

However, he pointed out, there is a significant gap between the room nights set aside for those who are involved with the race — 2,700 from today through Monday night — and the actual number of confirmations of room nights, which as of Wednesday afternoon stood at 2,000 — a 26 percent decrease.

"There's been a lot of last-minute attrition from the race organizers on the number of rooms they are actually filling up compared with those we needed to be prepared to offer," he said.

As Tomcich explains it, among the requirements for Aspen and Snowmass Village to be the host of the race's start was not only to provide a certain number of rooms at no cost to the cycling group on Sunday and Monday night, but also deeply discounted rooms in the days leading up to Sunday. The cost of those rooms runs up to $110 per night, inclusive of taxes and fees — still a big bargain for anyone needing to stay in Aspen or Snowmass Village during the busy summer season.

Put simply, fewer of the cycling folks will be in the area today, Friday and Saturday than organizers projected.

"It's mostly on the pre-Sunday night rooms that we have seen a lot of attrition from the numbers we were originally told to be prepared for," he said.

The factors: "One, that it was strictly a guess from last year's figures, when the overall start city was Durango. I would also suggest that the (racing teams and event entourage) had deliberate reasons to reduce their operating costs and they encouraged staff to come in later," Tomcich said.

Still, the booking figures keep changing hourly, and the 60 percent occupancy rate currently in place for Snowmass Village on Sunday and Monday should rise by Sunday.

"We're by no means at an overall sell-out, so the message I'm wanting to get out there is that we do have rooms available throughout both Aspen and Snowmass Village for anybody who still wants to come up here and watch what I think is going to be the most spectator-friendly stage of cycling in U.S. history," Tomcich said.

Though the two hotel markets aren't sold out overall, individually speaking, the Viceroy Snowmass hotel will be full on Saturday and the Westin and Wildwood in Snowmass Village (and their combined 400 rooms) are "fully committed" on Sunday, he added.

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