Colorado ski resorts rally

Staff report
The Aspen TImes
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Like Aspen Skiing Co., Colorado Ski Country USA members partially rebounded from an early-season deficit in skier visits.

The 21 member resorts in the state trade association were collectively down 4.2 percent for the season to date through the end of February, Colorado Ski Country USA recently announced. During January and February, the resorts posted an increase of 1.3 percent, according to the organization.

Aspen Skiing Co. was down 2 percent in skier visits as of the end of February compared with the same point last season, according to spokesman Jeff Hanle. The deficit had been 8 percent as of the end of December, so the company is making up ground.

Both Skico and Colorado Ski Country credited improving snow conditions in January and February for the improving business numbers.

“There was lots of pent-up demand after a dry start to the season, and all three holidays during the second period – New Year’s, MLK weekend and Presidents weekend – performed well,” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA.

The decrease in skier visits doesn’t necessarily equate to poorer business performance. Mills said many of the trade association’s members have experienced increases in visitor spending.

“While season-to-date numbers haven’t caught up with last year yet, guests are visiting resorts and taking advantage of all they have to offer as resorts are seeing increased spending in restaurants, ski school, shops and other ancillary businesses.”

The Colorado ski industry is hoping that snowstorms already experienced in March will lure skiers for the final weeks of the season. Thus far, the state’s resorts aren’t faring as well as the national ski industry as a whole. Michael Berry, president of the Lakewood-based National Ski Areas Association, recently said he expects national skier visits to increase by about 5 million or roughly 10 percent for the season over last year, which was down because of lack of snowfall.