Vail bookings slip amid Wall Street woes
Aspen, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colo. ” With the economy in turmoil and travel prices rising, hotel bookings are slowing down, local lodges say.
Bookings were slower in September than they usually are, said Rob LeVine, general manager of the Antlers in Lionshead. The hotel was expecting about 10 percent of its winter budget to be booked in September, but it only saw half that, he said.
“Recession in general, concerns about gas prices, concerns about travel prices,” LeVine said. “All that stuff adds up.”
LeVine added that bookings were strong until Sept. 1, and then tailed off. People may be simply waiting later to book vacations, LeVine said, adding that he remains optimistic about the coming season.
Matthew Martinucci, regional director of sales and marketing for the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa, said the 292-room hotel isn’t meeting its expectations for the coming winter.
“We’re definitely not where we’d like to be, but we seem to be a little better than where the market as a whole is,” he said.
The hotel is running promotions ” such as a fourth night free when you book three nights ” to attract Front Range visitors, Martinucci said.
Out-of-state guests who fly to the resort may be waiting longer to make reservations, while others may decide not to come at all, Martinucci said. And some might come for a shorter period of time, looking to still take a vacation but trim a few dollars off the price, he said.
But there’s one variable in determining how lucrative the winter is that’s still completely up in the air.
“Of course, we need good snow to even have a good winter,” Martinucci said.
Bookings for Vail Resorts-owned and managed hotels are down 17.7 percent in terms of room nights for the season, compared to the same time last year, said CEO Rob Katz in an earnings report last week. But, to date, those bookings are only 15 to 20 percent of the total bookings for the season, based on historical trends, Katz added.
“What we don’t know is whether people are not actually going to book or whether they’re going to be booking closer in to when they take their vacations,” Katz said Monday in an appearance on CNBC’s “Mad Money” with Jim Cramer. “Typically, in tough economic times, people make their decisions much closer in, so it’s hard to tell exactly how it’ll play out now, but we’re actually feeling pretty good given the circumstances we’re dealing with.”
Katz said the economic situation is “obviously a little treacherous.”
Vail Resorts owns and operates local hotels such as the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the Lodge at Vail, the Pines Lodge and the Osprey in Beaver Creek.
The company is introducing an unlimited ski rental program, starting at $359, partly in response to added airline baggage costs.
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