Excellent skiing conditions help Aspen, Snowmass turn around December bookings | AspenTimes.com

Excellent skiing conditions help Aspen, Snowmass turn around December bookings

Crowds gather for lunch at the Sundeck on Aspen Mountain on Dec. 29.

The Aspen and Snowmass Village lodging industry turned what looked like certain disaster into near-record numbers in December, according to Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central reservations business owned by Aspen Skiing Co.

At one point, advance reservations for the month were pacing behind last December by 18 percent, according to a report from Stay Aspen Snowmass. Mother Nature gets main credit for the turnaround, with an assist from marketing staffs that trumpeted the word about the snowfall.

"Recorded snowfall through December was double last year, allowing Aspen Skiing Co. to create a stellar early-season ski experience," the report said. "As a result, mountain operations opened 21/2 times more terrain than (the) same time last year over the peak holiday window."

Paid occupancy in properties in Aspen and Snowmass Village was 57.1 percent in December, or up 2.4 percent from last season. "Aspen posted 60.6 percent, a change of +0.3 percent and Snowmass beat last year by +2.7 percent, achieving 51.3 percent," the report said.

Properties in Aspen salvaged December without sacrificing room rates. The average daily rate in Aspen for the month was $855 this year compared with $817 for December 2017.

In Snowmass Village, rates fell in December. The average daily rate was $479 this December compared with $523 for the month the prior year.

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Christmas week "fell short of last year despite this winter's exceptional conditions," the report continued. National school holiday calendars were the culprit. Many families took their holiday vacations in January rather than December this year.

Despite that boost, January was pacing down 1.7 percent from last year based on reservations on the books as of Dec. 31. January "is suffering from lower performances from some key international markets," according to the report.

The entire Roaring Fork Valley appeared to benefit from the X Games at Buttermilk Jan. 24 to 27. Aspen Skiing Co. vice president of communications Jeff Hanle said there were larger numbers of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes than typical during X Games.

"It was a big weekend, particularly Saturday," he said.

The crowds were spread across the ski areas. Some observers speculated that the new Ikon Pass, sold by Skico's sister resort company and good for up to five days on Skico's slopes, is making a difference. Hanle said that hasn't been analyzed yet.

"We'll try to do it down the line," he said.

Overall, the current level of bookings is on pace with last winter. A late Easter date and continued good skiing conditions have the tourist accommodation industry hopeful for solid performance in February, March and April.

"The winter months collectively are pacing +0.7 percent better than this time last year," the report said.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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