Five days of sold-out hotels and lodges in Aspen-Snowmass imminent |

Five days of sold-out hotels and lodges in Aspen-Snowmass imminent

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Think it’s been busy in the Aspen-Snowmass area the past few days, with shoppers filling up downtown stores and motorists scrambling for parking spaces?

It’s about to get even more crowded, as area hotels and lodges are expected to sell out from Saturday night through Wednesday night, which is New Year’s Eve.

“It’s going to be rock solid,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass.

Limited availability in the days leading up to Jan. 1 is typical, according to Tomcich. Advance bookings for this week and next — as measured Dec. 15 by Denver-based DestiMetrics LLC, a company that tracks resort activity — are pacing about even with or slightly above last year’s reservations rates, he said. That comparison takes into account the calendar shift between this year and last year.

Occupancy rates of 95 percent or higher are generally considered a sell-out, Tomcich said.

“The 27th through the 31st are going to be the five peak nights of the holidays,” he said. “The peak night right now is looking to be Tuesday the 30th. It’s going to be busy.”

Comparatively, DestiMetric’s mid-month snapshot of advance bookings puts yesterday’s rate at 77 percent. The actual figure for Wednesday (Dec. 24) will end up higher because of reservations activity since Dec. 15 and walk-in business on Christmas Eve and the days preceding it.

Weather permitting, the three commercial airlines serving the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport will be bringing in a massive influx of visitors over the coming days. Business starts to taper off dramatically after New Year’s Day, Tomcich said.

The airport’s schedule includes 23 inbound flights today, 28 on Friday, 33 on Saturday and 31 on Sunday. All of the flights are full, Tomcich said.

Thirty-three packed flights would deliver an estimated 2,300 visitors into the Aspen-Snowmass area, he said.

Average occupancy rates are expected to surpass the 90 percent mark on Friday night, just prior to the five-night string of official sell-outs. Those seeking a room during the five-night busy stretch might have some luck if they pounce sooner rather than later.

“Pretty much all that is left are a handful of rooms in Snowmass Village,” he said. “Every once in a while we get a cancellation notice from a property. We fill them as we learn of them.”

The Dec. 15 snapshot of advance bookings shows a steady decline in occupancy beginning New Year’s Day. The occupancy rates fall from 85 percent on Jan. 1 to 55 percent on Jan. 4, according to the mid-month data.

Again, those rates are expected to end up higher because of late bookings, and also could improve if more snow falls at the end of December.

By Jan. 5, “It’s going to feel like the quiet season again,” he said.

Tomcich said that because occupancy rates just before New Year’s Day hit the sell-out point last year and are expected to do the same this year he could not say whether business is going to better or slightly behind last year’s figures.

“Full is full,” he said.

It’s difficult to pinpoint any trends concerning the geographic origins of the travelers, Tomcich said. Most of them will be coming from five states — California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas — but a sizable percentage will be international visitors, he said.

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