Western U.S. resorts hope to carry summer momentum into winter
Western U.S. resorts set a record this summer for lodging occupancy and revenue, but questions linger about the outlook for winter, according to DestiMetrics, a company that tracks trends in six states.
As of Aug. 31, the actual occupancies for May through August, combined with business on the books for September and October, showed reservations were already 103 percent of last year over the same period, DestiMetrics said in a statement. Revenue was already up 11 percent, the company reported.
This is the third consecutive year for a summer record, and this year’s performance will only get stronger, according to DestiMetrics. Oct. 31 is considered the end of the summer bookings season. September is shaping up as a very strong month, the company said.
DestiMetrics collects data from lodging properties at 19 Western destination resorts in Colorado, Utah, California, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming.
Aspen also is experiencing a strong summer. The paid occupancy for March through August was up 4.7 percent over last year, according to a recent report released by Stay Aspen Snowmass, a central bookings agency. August occupancy was up 2 percent.
DestiMetrics said winter bookings are starting to ramp up and the preliminary data “look promising.” DestiMetrics Director Ralf Garrison said there is both optimistic and cautionary information heading into winter. Garrison said that “geopolitical forces and global economic volatility may bring hesitancy to less committed winter vacationers, and we will be monitoring those indicators and consumers’ response closely.”
However, data indicate that “the highly sought-after destination guest that books earlier, stays longer and spends more money is already making winter reservations,” he said.
“We expect room rates will be strategic in many destinations as resorts bump up against capacity during peak periods since lodging inventory is currently experiencing limited growth,” Garrison said in a statement. “But between the uncertainties of snowfall and current economic fluctuations, challenges and opportunities may come in equal measure and appear quickly with the potential to define the season’s dynamics in a relatively short period of time.”
Stay Aspen Snowmass President Bill Tomcich said in an email to the local lodging industry that publicity about El Nino and the potential for heavier-than-average snow this year could help drive reservations. But there are challenges, as well.
“Between currency exchange rates and the recent volatility of the stock market, there’s no denying that we are facing some headwinds right now,” Tomcich wrote. “But I believe that these headwinds can be overcome especially if Mother Nature deals us some good cards as is now being predicted by so many experts.”
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Aspen Skiing Co. officials made a tag-team appeal to the Pitkin County Commissioners Wednesday urging approval for the proposed expansion of the Pandora’s terrain and other projects on Aspen Mountain. The commissioners continued the hearing until Aug. 28, when a vote is possible.