Early season hotel bookings a reason for optimism
The start of the ski season in Aspen and Snowmass kicks off what some local hotel operators expect will be a better winter than last year, bookings-wise. And last winter was pretty good.Several properties are reporting strong early season reservations and expected sellouts during the resort’s busiest periods – the week between Christmas and New Year’s, the Winter X Games in January and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in March, for example. Others are less certain about how the winter will shape up.”We look absolutely great,” said John Curnow, general manager at the Sky Hotel. “We’re pacing well ahead of last year in every month, December through March.”And last winter was “fantastic,” he added.Bookings at the 90-room Sky are up 70 percent for the month of January, compared with the reservations that had been made by this time last year, according to Curnow. March is up 43 percent, and February is tracking 31 percent ahead of last year, he said.The St. Moritz Lodge is also ahead of last year’s numbers – by 20 percent or more, according to general manager David Slack.But for another small lodge, the Chalet Lisl, things look good, not great, so far.”For us, it looks like a good year. I don’t think it’s booming yet,” said owner Carol Blomquist, whose guests are mostly repeat customers who are loyal to the Lisl.The Annabelle Inn, which opened last January in place of the old Christmas Inn on Main Street, but then wasn’t really available again until March, is still trying to build up its clientele.”Every year, people come to their favorite place. I haven’t had time to make mine the favorite place yet,” innkeeper Charlie Case said.Winter bookings, he said, are “fair, but not off the charts.””In a nutshell, things are just a little bit better than last year, and last year was a very strong start,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass. The local reservations agency handles about 6 percent of overall bookings.So far, demand for condos has been stronger than the call for hotel rooms, Tomcich said.At The Gant, with 120 condos available to rent, overall reservations are up about 6 percent for the winter, including November, according to Molly Campbell, general manager.”Bookings look great,” she said. “They are really, for all months, up over last year at this time, except April.”December and February numbers at The Gant are currently up 8 percent and March is up 12 percent, compared with what the complex had on the books last Thanksgiving.In Snowmass Village, where ongoing construction of a new Base Village may or may not impact business, reservations so far are up for The Silvertree Hotel’s 260 rooms and 210 condo properties. “Probably, the Silvertree will exceed last year, which was our best year in probably four or five years,” said John Quigley, vice president of sales and marketing. “The important thing is, we’re pacing ahead of where we were last year and last year was a great year.”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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