Summer snapshot: Tourism director optimistic about strong season in Snowmass
September could be “best ever;” meeting July 2019 numbers “a stretch”
Summer 2021 is shaping up to be a strong tourism season in Snowmass Village: People are making their booking earlier and the summer months are pacing to be significantly busier, according to Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello.
Plus, all the do-it-yourself activities that the tourism department planned to operate regardless of COVID restrictions will now operate in addition to a stacked calendar of confirmed events like free concerts on Fanny Hill and the Snowmass Rodeo, Abello noted. With a busy summer right around the corner, the Snowmass Sun checked in with Abello on the outlook.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Snowmass Sun: Last time we talked to recap the winter season (“Reflecting on a one-of-a-kind tourism season in Snowmass Village,” April 28) you mentioned that last summer — while strong — had a slow start. But you were hopeful that we would get back closer to those 2019 summer numbers (this year). Does that hope still hold true now?
Rose Abello: I am certain that this summer’s early June will be better than last summer’s early June. I think hotels opened the 28th of May last year, and there wasn’t a ton of lead time leading up to that opening. So getting people here in early June was not easy, in the sense that they didn’t have a ton of lead time to plan it.
I just pulled up the May 15 stats, which is the most recent one that I have. We are already well above where we were — where we finished last summer — in terms of occupancy for early June. So from that perspective, yes, we are right now, on all dates, through June — we already have more business on the books than we had in June last year where we finished. … June will be stronger — not surprising — and I’m optimistic that we will be able to continue that strength throughout the summer. And I have predicted and will predict that we will probably have our strongest September ever.
SS: I think that we can deductively reason that when hotels were closed, there were less people in Snowmass. But you had mentioned you were hopeful that we could get a little bit closer to 2019 which was a really strong summer. Based on what you’re looking at now, is that still a goal that’s within reach?
RA: I think so. It’s a little bit of a stretch goal because we have some units out of inventory this summer (like the Westin Snowmass Resort and the Wildwood Snowmass lodge, which are currently closed for renovations). … September for sure, we’ll have our best September ever. July and August could be — July would be our biggest stretch to make that happen right now.
SS: Town Council has officially rescinded the outdoor mandatory mask zones in the Snowmass Mall, Base Village and the Snowmass Center (to align with county public guidance, which will create more consistency across the area). Do you think that decision is going to impact tourism attitudes at all? Is it changing how you’re marketing Snowmass Village?
RA: It’s not really changing how we’re marketing Snowmass Village. I think we’ve said this a lot: We’re fortunate that our key marketing messages were really relevant throughout COVID, because we have always talked about the wide open spaces and the vastness and the trails and all the activities that you can do outdoors. …
But you started with the mask zones, and there are a couple places you still have to wear masks (like on public transportation and in businesses that choose to retain the indoor mask requirement). … Another message is that there is this huge spectrum of comfort.
There are some people who are zero (percent) COVID-cautious, and there are people who are 100% COVID-cautious for reasons that you don’t even have to worry about. … We just need people to be considerate and kind and understand that people are coming at this with different backgrounds, with different perspectives, and if somebody wants their space, give them some space.
SS: As you’ve been gearing up for summer and talking with businesses and stakeholders, what are the biggest questions, comments and concerns that you’re hearing?
RA: Staffing — staffing is huge. We’re doing a job fair; getting everybody staffed is definitely a concern that we’re hearing among businesses, and making sure that we’re ready to welcome people. That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve heard from businesses; I think everybody’s looking forward to a successful summer.
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