Skier visits up 6 percent – and so much more |

Skier visits up 6 percent – and so much more

The Aspen Skiing Co. saw its skier and snowboard visits soar by more than 6 percent this season, but vice president David Perry said that’s only a small part of the story.He said the 2005-06 winter will go down as a “momentous time” that cannot be measured solely by skier visits – the standard for the ski industry.”I’ve heard from so many people that call it the best [season] ever,” said Perry.Some of that is because of intangible factors. There were more than 20 powder days with 6 or more inches of snow throughout the season. It brought the locals out in big numbers, boosted morale and set a strong tone for the season. Another successful X Games further boosted spirits.Perry also pointed to cooperation in the business community above and beyond the norm. When it became apparent in January that there were “holes” to fill in March, the Skico teamed with the lodging community, airlines and other partners to create attractive packages to lure more business. It worked. March turned out to be a strong month, Perry said.Early signs indicate the lodging community enjoyed an even better season than the Skico. Perry said it looks like occupancy was up about 10 percent over the prior season.Each of the Skico’s four mountains posted gains over last season. It was the fourth consecutive winter that the company posted an overall gain.An exact count of skier visits wasn’t available Monday. Last year the company logged 1,367,210 visits at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. A 6 percent increase would mean roughly 82,000 more visits, pushing the Skico up to about 1.45 million.Preliminary data indicates there were increases in the Skico’s four major market segments: international business, national business from outside Colorado, in-state business outside the Roaring Fork Valley and local business, Perry said.The Skico budgeted for only a 2.5 percent gain before the season started. Chief Operating Officer Mike Kaplan, the company’s second in command, predicted the Skico could double that if everything fell into place just right.Perry said the season exceeded expectations: “Yes, absolutely. We always enter the season with some degree of pessimism,” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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