Summer tourism hopping in Aspen |

Summer tourism hopping in Aspen

Sarah S. Chung

Roundabout construction may have slowed summer traffic down, but it hasn’t slowed the number of visitors who eventually make it into town.

So far, Aspen Central Reservations’ bookings reflect a summer holding its own compared to last year’s record-breaking season, which saw a 14 percent jump in reservations over summer 1997. This year, June and July were about equal with 1998 and so far, August is up by 8 percent.

“Construction hasn’t hurt our numbers,” said Bill Tomcich, president of central reservations. “Last year was absolutely record breaking and by all accounts, this year has been outstanding.”

“There’s been construction all over the state, so I don’t think it’s been too much of a factor,” said Nell Strijbos-Arthur, who tracks lodging statistics for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

“We have heard comments like, `Gosh, we really had a tough time getting here. But once when we got here, we really had a blast.’ “

While it’s easy to assume winter tourism figures surpass summer numbers in Aspen, summer sees about a 1,000 more visitors – at least based on the reservations that come through Aspen Central Reservations, said Tomcich.

For the winter of 1997-98, 3,400 nights of lodging were booked through the reservations agency during the ski season, but 4,500 reservations were made for 1998’s summer months, he said.

“With all the festivals and the season being kicked off by Food and Wine, there have been quite a few completely booked weekends,” Tomcich said. “For example, during the Harmony Festival, there was not a bed to be had from Twin Lakes to Glenwood Springs and there’s not much room for improvement on already full.”

People tend to stay longer and spend more money when they’re in town on a ski vacation, Tomcich noted. But in the last five years or so, Aspen has really made a name for itself as a summer hot spot.

“Aspen has reached a certain maturity as a major summer destination,” Tomcich said. “Almost as much as Cape Cod or Nantucket, Aspen’s just the place to be in the summer.

“No other resort in the West, with the possible exception of Jackson Hole, which is the gateway to Yellowstone, sees the kind of business we see.”

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