Pandemic’s effects on Aspen-Snowmass lodging industry come into focus |

Pandemic’s effects on Aspen-Snowmass lodging industry come into focus

For the ski season months, cumulative occupancy is down 36%

Skiers spread and wait to alternate in line to load onto the Ajax Express Lift on mid-Aspen Mountain on Sunday, March 21, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The effects of the pandemic on Aspen’s ski season are starting to come into sharper focus as the winter winds down.

The combined winter occupancy for Aspen and Snowmass currently stands at 36% for November through April, according to a report released earlier this month by Aspen Skiing Co. and its central reservations agency, Stay Aspen Snowmass. That’s down 37% from last winter, which was cut short by the pandemic. Ski areas were closed by the state starting March 15, 2020.

Aspen Skiing Co. said earlier that skier and snowboarder visits at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk were down more than the 20% loss company officials estimated preseason.

Despite the rough start to the season, many resorts are starting to “claw back” and are hoping to end the winter on a positive note, said a company called DestiMetrics, which tracks lodging occupancy in numerous resorts, including Aspen-Snowmass.

“Short-term and last-minute bookings in February had a dramatic impact on February and March arrivals as travelers responded positively to news about declining COVID-19 cases and aggressive vaccination programs,” DestiMetrics said in its report.

Nevertheless, February was another tough month for Aspen-Snowmass and mountain destinations as a whole.

Aspen’s lodging industry posted a paid occupancy of 45.8% for February compared with 79.3% last year.

Snowmass Village properties posted occupancy of 47.3% compared with 81.9% last year. Both resorts were down about 42%.

The average daily rate fell to $536 from $650 in Aspen, a decline of 17.6%. In Snowmass, the average daily rate fell about 5% to $477 from $500.

DestiMetric’s report said occupancy was down a cumulative 18% for February from last year for the destinations it tracks.

Tourists are booking trips closer to times they want to travel this season — reflecting the need to constantly gauge factors such as vaccinations and snow conditions. Both DestiMetrics and Stay Aspen Snowmass reported the booking pace at the start of March was been much better than last year — reflecting the growing uncertainty a year ago and cautious optimism this year.

For March, Aspen and Snowmass Village had a combined occupancy of about 49%, as of Feb. 28.

“March was pacing down 30.7 percent, but with the booking pace we are currently experiencing, we should see an improved performance by month end,” said the report by Skico and Stay Aspen Snowmass. “Naturally, we closed March 14 last year so the reports will be quite skewed. We will look at March performance over 2019 at month end.”

The report by DestiMetrics looked at the bigger picture at 18 destinations across Colorado, California, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, encompassing about 30,000 lodging rooms.

“Aggregated occupancy for the full six-month season from November through April is down 21 percent compared to last year at this time but once again marks a significant improvement from last month when the season was down 33.1 percent,” DestiMetrics said.

DestiMetrics is the business intelligence division of a company called Inntopia.


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