Bookings in West far ahead of last season |

Bookings in West far ahead of last season

Occupancy in the mountain lodging industry in the western U.S. is up 8.7 percent through April this year, according to Denver-based DestiMetrics, which tracks data from mountain lodging properties in six Western states, including Colorado.

Numbers show that 47 percent of all of last year’s total room nights are already on the books for the 2013-14 season, with a 7.1 percent occupancy increase for November.

Occupancy rates for Dec. 27 through 31 in Aspen-Snowmass are above 80 percent, pacing about 5 to 10 percentage points ahead of last year, said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass. But even with the solid numbers, Tomcich said he’s a bit surprised about occupancy after the new year.

Typically, when both Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Wednesdays, vacationers will extend their stays through the following weekend. That was the trend last year, when both holidays fell on Tuesdays. But Tomcich said the 2013-14 holiday is not shaping up that way.

“What’s kind of catching me by surprise is how quickly things are tapering off immediately after New Year’s,” Tomcich said. “So anyone who wants to come in on New Year’s Day through the following weekend, there’s quite plentiful availability.”

Tomcich said reservations between now and Christmas are also low, with occupancy rates on par with or slightly behind last year. To stimulate reservations, Aspen Skiing Co. is offering a deal where kids can ski, stay, rent and eat for free through Christmas night.

With Aspen Mountain reporting a 23-inch mountaintop base and Snowmass reporting a 32-inch mountaintop base, Tomcich said conditions bode well for February and March.

“I would say that the strong, early snow gives consumers a lot more confidence in committing to their trips early,” Tomcich said.

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