Summer biz ‘flat’ but ‘acceptable’ at Glenwood Springs pool and caverns |

Summer biz ‘flat’ but ‘acceptable’ at Glenwood Springs pool and caverns

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox/Post IndependentThe Hot Springs Pool and Spa of the Rockies in Glenwood Springs didn't fare too badly this summer considering the recession.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Two of the town’s signature businesses these days are the venerable Glenwood Hot Springs and a relative newcomer, the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

The management of each business says that the summer of 2009 was not their best but that it was not a disaster, either.

Between them during the height of the summer season, the businesses employ some 400 people, and both said they kept their full roster of employees last summer.

Phrases such as “flat” and “acceptable” peppered conversations between the businessmen and the Post Independent this week. Along with that, though, came the occasional use of the word “optimistic.”

“Pool visitation this last summer, this last year, was basically flat, which we consider a success based on the kind of economy that we’ve had,” said Kjell Mitchell, a Glenwood Springs native who has been general manager at the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool since 1989.

The business, located along I-70 to the east of the Grand Avenue Bridge, boasts the world’s largest hot springs pool, an athletic club and an almost new spa, along with shops and a small restaurant. It employs approximately 250 people, some 50 of whom work at the new spa.

Although he declined to reveal exactly how many people visited the complex of businesses he oversees, Mitchell said that room revenues were “flat with a slight increase,” the vacancy rate in the rooms was “flat as well,” and retail sales in the facility’s shops were “down around 15 percent, which sort of follows a national trend.”

This fall, when things typically slow down, he said there has been no sign of an economic recovery that might bring more people to town.

“We are not off substantially, a few percentage points, but … the tide has not turned yet,” he said.

While the business did not change its marketing much for the summer trade, or adjust its room rates or admission to the pool, Mitchell noted that most of the marketing effort had to do with the opening in October 2008 of the new Spa of the Rockies.

Situated in the historic sandstone building at the pool’s western end, the spa was five years in the planning stages and 14 months under construction.

“This summer was the first opportunity to … communicate the presence of the spa to our many long-standing guests that come here for the summer,” Mitchell said, adding that special “launching package” deals were offered, including meals, pool time and different spa treatments.

As for the target audience, he said, “We have always focused our marketing on the Denver metropolitan area and the rest of Colorado,” adding later that some 75 to 80 percent of the facility’s business comes from the Front Range.

Concerning last summer, he said, “Strategically, Glenwood Springs specifically, and our property as well, benefited to some degree from the close proximity to the Denver metropolitan area.”

Surveys of Hot Springs guests, Mitchell explained, revealed that even if they had been planning to vacation, say, in the Black Hills of South Dakota or the theme parks of Disney World in Florida, “Our results showed that there are enough travelers that decided to take the three-hour trip to Glenwood Springs … versus going elsewhere.”

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