Report: Snowmass business on the mend | AspenTimes.com

Report: Snowmass business on the mend

Christine Ina Casillas
Snowmass Sun
Aspen, CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Although business activity appeared to be down in Snowmass Village this year, the numbers show that tourism is on the rebound.

Occupancy for the winter of 2010-11 increased 11 percent over the previous winter, with March boosting the largest revenue numbers in town, according to a report from the town’s Marketing and Special Events and Group Sales board.

The report also showed that sales tax revenue and hotel occupancy figures, which took a drastic dip in 2009, are slowly turning around in Snowmass Village.

“We’ve had the third-best year since 2002 [as far as tax revenue],” Susan Hamley, director of Snowmass Tourism, told members of the Snowmass Council at a Monday meeting.

At that meeting, Town Council members reviewed the report, which they were issued after requesting a financial plan for the summer of 2012 budget.

The council also requested how and where the board was spending town dollars and what plans and goals are in store for bringing more business and events into Snowmass Village.

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“The purpose of this is to look at summer, and when we look at summer, we have to ask, what’s the goal?” said Snowmass Village town manager Russell Forrest. “We had a pretty good summer as far as sales taxes go.”

Meanwhile, there was an improvement in overall performance in 2010, with sales tax revenue improving by almost 2 percent over 2009 and winter up 8 percent. Occupancy was up 1.5 percent for the year; adjusted it was up 2 percent, with the winter of 2010-11 up 6 percent.

The General Fund sales tax proves encouraging in 2011 with an increase of about 7 percent. Lodging sales tax is up almost 11 percent, and group-sales business is up about 53 percent as of midyear, the report showed.

“We tied for first ranking in March [compared to other resorts],” Hamley said.

“It’s a matter of getting the right balance of weekly travelers, family campers … the whole mix to fill up the summers,” Hamley added. “We do see a swing in occupancy in September and October, and those ups and downs are hard to handle.”

But there is still an imbalanced mix of residential and commercial in the mall and the base that continues to create an unsustainable environment for business, the report showed.

“The bed base and residential growth have not kept pace with the increase in commercial square footage,” the report stated. “A recent study conducted by the Snowmass Village Financial Advisory Board showed businesses in both nodes are operating at various degrees of sales per square footage that are below the $400 [per square foot] benchmark required to be successful.”

Other causes manifested in the marketplace such as the “overarching impacts of not being able to sell the Conference Center space for more than two years out” and the stalled Base Village and related foreclosures, generating negative implications, the report showed.

But that’s not deterring the board from tackling any further challenges from infrastructure or the recession.

“We need to start looking at the whole enchilada with what’s out there,” said Rick Griffin, director of the Snowmass Village Financial Advisory Board. “[During the winter], Skico focuses on selling their mountain, and they have to spread their money around four items, and we only focus on one.”

CCasillas@snowmasssun.com

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