Hotels, lodges seeing brisk business for holiday season | AspenTimes.com

Hotels, lodges seeing brisk business for holiday season

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Local reservationists and lodges are reporting strong bookings for the upcoming Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks.

In some cases, this year’s occupancy rates are a stark contrast with last year’s numbers when the travel industry was left reeling after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

According to an occupancy report prepared by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association that polls 17 lodges, bookings for this week are at 49 percent versus 31 percent at this time last year. For the week of Christmas, the report says Aspen will be roughly 72 percent full, versus 66 percent last year.

Reservations over New Year’s, from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, are at 69 percent this year, compared to 66 percent last year, with a couple of weeks left for people to keep making reservations, noted Bill Tomcich, president of Stay Aspen Snowmass.

“New Year’s week this year is tremendous ? everyone is coming in for New Year’s and staying through the following weekend,” he said. “That’s why we love it when the holidays fall in the middle of the week.”

The Hotel Jerome is reporting a record-breaking month of December. Steven Holt, the Jerome’s sales and public relations manager, said the majority of rooms are already sold out during the holiday weeks.

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“I think it’s the early snow and people are traveling domestically this year,” Holt said. “In domestic travel, Aspen is on the radar.”

Stay Aspen Snowmass only books about 7 percent of the reservations available in both resort towns, but Tomcich said their numbers for December bookings are already “off the charts.” Bookings have even surpassed the totals from December 2000, before Aspen and Snowmass Central Reservations were combined into one agency.

“I think it’s efficient advertising and promotional messages, and the combination of the fact that our Web site is rocking right now with its seamless booking,” he said. “We’ve had sales training at our call center, and it’s been a really strong early season with snow.”

Molly Campbell, general manager at The Gant, said reservations for December are flat compared to last year, but the condos will still be 98 to 99 percent full during the holidays.

She said she’s seen a general trend of visitors booking their trips closer to their anticipated time of travel, since December bookings just picked up in the past two months.

“This snow we’re having now doesn’t hurt anything,” Campbell said of Tuesday’s storm. “It might even have an impact on this weekend’s bookings.”

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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