First glimpse of Aspen’s winter hotel reservations appears favorable
ASPEN – A very early glimpse at advance reservations at Aspen-Snowmass for next ski season shows a “mixed bag” that is generally favorable, said David Perry, Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president for mountain operations, on Tuesday.
Reservations on the books as of Sept. 15 showed there are a considerable number of beds to fill between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Perry said in a meeting between Skico brass and Pitkin County commissioners.
“It was behind last year’s pace,” he said.
The holiday period looks as busy as ever, Perry said. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is nearly full every year. The pleasant surprise comes after that period.
“From mid-January to late March looks positive,” Perry said.
Last winter, Skico and the lodging community had to scramble to fill in holes during the second half of the season.
This season, the challenge will be convincing travelers to book vacations before they know about snow conditions. Perry said the early season is likely running behind last year’s reservations pace because skiers and snowboarders want to wait to see if it snows.
Last season was tough on the ski industry. Snow conditions were poor across most of the country, with an exception in the Northwest. Nationwide, skier visits were down 15.7 percent from the previous season. Skier visits were at the lowest level since 1991-92.
Rocky Mountain region resorts were off 7.2 percent, and Colorado was down 11.4 percent, to the lowest level since 1980-81, according to Perry. Aspen-Snowmass fared better, with business slumping just 1.8 percent from the prior season.
Skico avoided a big dive despite weather-related horror stories. Snowfall was less than 50 percent of the annual average, Perry said. And Siberian-like conditions struck Dec. 31, traditionally Skico’s busiest day of the season. Winds reached 100 mph that day, shutting down almost all chairlifts.
To add insult, no snow fell after March 2, and the average 24-hour temperature for the month was 37 degrees. That brought a quick end to the season.
Perry said an early opening because of favorable snow conditions got last season off to a good start. The efforts of the snowmaking and grooming crews salvaged the season, he said.
Business also was boosted by favorable snow coverage and media coverage for the women’s World Cup ski races on the weekend after Thanksgiving and snowfall during a prime day of the Winter X Games in January.
Perry said many customers from overseas and elsewhere in the U.S. had a great time even in conditions that weren’t optimal for Roaring Fork Valley residents.
“Locals are toughest when conditions are hard,” he said.
Perry didn’t share with the commissioners if Skico expects an increase in skier visits this season.
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