This year’s Comedy Festival has Aspen Skiing Co. smiling |

This year’s Comedy Festival has Aspen Skiing Co. smiling

Aspen Skiing Co. officials are yukking it up with the rest of town this year during the annual U.S. Comedy Arts Festival.

Last year, Skico officials said it was no laughing matter that the festival was filling up the town’s tourist accommodations with people who didn’t ski at a time that was traditionally busy. The festival was held in March last year – the busiest month of ski season.

The complaints sparked debates about whether what’s bad for the Skico is necessarily bad for Aspen. Plus, Comedy Fest organizers acted like they took a pie to the face and muttered about taking their laughs elsewhere.

But now that the festival has moved to the middle of February, everybody’s happy.

“I’m grateful and happy that the Comedy Festival changed their schedule,” said Skico Chief Operating Officer John Norton, who himself likes a good laugh. “It’s much better to have them now than in March.”

It’s no joke that the festival’s rescheduling has boosted Aspen’s business for the month of February. The projected occupancy for the week of Feb. 6-13 was 82 percent, compared to 75 percent for the same week last year, according to the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s latest report.

“Clearly having Comedy Festival here made February, no question,” said Bill Tomcich, president of Aspen Central Reservations. “We’re going to be close to a sell-out [this weekend] – not quite 100 percent.”

The town benefits from the Comedy Fest’s new schedule in two ways, Tomcich said. First, festival attendees will have an easier time finding accommodations now than in March. Second, it leaves more rooms available for skier and snowboard riders in March – a time when vacancies can be filled with late-booking business.

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